Sewing with Knits: Tips for Working with Stretchy Fabrics

a person holding a needle with yarn

sewing with knits: tips for working with stretchy fabrics

Knit fabrics are a great choice for comfortable garments that move with the body. They are often used for t-shirts, activewear, and loungewear. However, sewing knits requires some adjustments from sewing woven fabrics.

Here are some of the differences between sewing knits and wovens:

  • Knits stretch. This means that you need to use a different type of needle and thread, and you need to adjust your sewing techniques.
  • Knits are less stable. This means that you need to be careful when cutting and sewing them, and you may need to use stabilizers to help them hold their shape.
  • Knits have more drape. This means that they will hang differently than woven fabrics, and you need to adjust your pattern choices and seam allowances accordingly.

Despite these differences, sewing knits can be a rewarding experience. With a little practice, you can learn how to sew knits like a pro.

Here are some tips for sewing knits:

  • Use a stretch needle and thread. This will help to prevent the fabric from puckering or raveling.
  • Adjust your sewing techniques. When sewing knits, you need to use a shorter stitch length and a slower sewing speed.
  • Be careful when cutting and sewing. Knits are more delicate than woven fabrics, so you need to be careful not to stretch or tear them.
  • Use stabilizers. Stabilizers can help to keep knits from stretching out of shape.
  • Choose the right pattern. When choosing a pattern for knits, make sure that it is designed for knit fabrics.
  • Adjust the seam allowances. Seam allowances for knits are typically smaller than seam allowances for woven fabrics.

With a little practice, you can learn how to sew knits like a pro. Once you have mastered the basics, you can start to explore the many possibilities that knit fabrics offer. You can create comfortable garments that move with your body, dresses, tops, loungewear, and more suited to your style.

Here are some additional tips for sewing knits:

Why Sew with Knits?

  • Provides unparalleled comfort for wearing – stretchy, soft, and fluid on the body
  • Allows versatility working with woven or knit pattern pieces to mix media
  • Suits beginner sewing with forgiveness of fit and easy construction
  • Makes customization of everyday athleisure and t-shirts affordable
  • Teaches skills for handling stretch and drape well adapted to various figure types
  • Provides flexibility to design your own knit pieces adapted to favorite woven patterns
  • Allows testing unique fabric textures like plush sweater knits and textured interlocks.

Preparing to Sew Knits

  • Select needle types designed for knits – ballpoint avoids holes
  • Use polyester or woolly nylon thread for stretch rather than cotton
  • Opt for serger or zigzag stitches to allow stretching seams
  • Cut pieces on the cross-grain for optimal give
  • Interface stretched areas like necklines to stabilize them
  • Use tissue paper when pressing to avoid impressions
  • Try on muslins frequently to perfect fitting

Sewing Best Practices for Knits

  • Use stretch or narrow zigzag stitch length 1.5-2.5 for seams
  • Serge seam allowances together for professional flexible finishes
  • Stabilize shoulders and necklines with stay tape or light interfacing
  • Grade enclosed seams to reduce bulk, especially at curves
  • Set sleeve caps in carefully easing fullness and stretching slightly
  • Attach cuffs and bands to allow slight stretch outward

Common Knit Projects

T-shirts – Master neckline finishes, sleeve insertion, and neckbands

Hoodies – Practice soft drapes and inset pockets

LeggingsPerfect fit through elastic, ribbing, and contouring seams

Slip dresses – Learn to handle delicate thin knits and notions well

ActivewearWork with performance fabrics on high-stretch styles

Undergarments – Craft soft elasticized intimates with custom sizing

Sweaters – Handle bulky knits and openings with stability and stretch

Sewing knitwear can be a great way to express your personal style and to create comfortable garments that move with your body. With the right strategies, you can open up unlimited potential for creating incredible wearables.

Here are some final thoughts on the benefits of sewing knitwear:

  • It is a versatile fabric. Knits can be used to create a wide variety of garments, from simple t-shirts to complex dresses.
  • It is comfortable to wear. Knits are designed to stretch and move with your body, so they are perfect for activewear or everyday wear.
  • It is easy to sew. Once you learn the basics, sewing knits is relatively easy.
  • It is a relatively inexpensive fabric. Knits are often less expensive than other types of fabrics, making them a great option for budget-minded sewers.

So if you are looking for a versatile, comfortable, and easy-to-sew fabric, knits are a great option. With a little practice, you can learn how to sew knits like a pro and create incredible wearables that express your personal style.

Here are some additional tips for sewing knitwear:

  • Choose the right fabric. Not all knit fabrics are created equal. Choose a fabric that is appropriate for the garment you are making and that will hold up well to wear and tear.
  • Use the right tools. There are a few specialized tools that can be helpful when sewing knits, such as a serger and a ballpoint needle.
  • Take your time. Sewing knits can be a little tricky at first, so take your time and be patient.
  • Have fun! Sewing knits can be a lot of fun. Experiment with different fabrics and patterns to create garments that you love.
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