December 08, 2022
It’s no secret that we love sewing with knit fabrics. Almost half of Forget-me-not Patterns are patterns made for knits! Whether you’re sewing up a chic Viola, cosy Kirsi or an everyday Iris, this post has lots of tips and tricks to take your knits for sewing beautiful, long lasting knit garments.
Knits are versatile, comfortable and easy to wear. And with the right tools and techniques, they’re easy and quick to sew too! Today, we’ll be chatting about my favourite tips for sewing knit fabrics, as well as some handy tools to make sewing a little easier.
Now, I’ll be honest that some of these tips are not the kind of advice I like hearing. Why? It’s almost always about the prep work. I’ve found that most of the tips and techniques that have helped me level up my knit garment sewing game, don’t actually take place at my sewing machine. It may not be exciting, but it does make all the difference. So much of sewing beautiful, long-lasting knits happens in the preparatory phase. So let’s dive in!
Possibly the most important factor in matching patterns to fabric for knit projects is making sure the stretch of the fabric is compatible with the pattern. Most importantly, the amount of stretch is going to determine if the finished garment will go around your body. Many, but not all, knit patterns have negative ease and rely on the stretch in the fabric, so check finished garment measurements too.
The other important factor with stretch is how the garment goes in the body. Since many knit garments don’t have closures, knit patterns are drafted with a specific amount of stretch in order to get the garment on over the head, hands, hips, etc.
Here are a couple things to check when determining if a knit fabric is right for the pattern in question:
There are several formulas for calculating stretch percentage. This one is my favourite.
Cut a 10 cm square of fabric exclusive of the selvedge. Hold one end at your ruler and stretch the other end as far as it will go. If the fabric stretches 11 cm, the fabric has 10% stretch (12 cm = 20%, 13 cm=30%, and so on).
Horizontal stretch is usually most important for tops and dresses. Check the horizontal stretch buy placing the ribs of the jersey (those tiny lines on the right side of the fabric) perpendicular to your measuring tool. To find the vertical stretch, which is often necessary for bodysuits, leggings and trousers, simply turn your square 90 degrees so the ribs and your measuring tool are parallel.
Checking for recovery is slightly less scientific, but still very helpful in determining of a fabric is going to be a suitable match for you pattern.
Start with the same 10 cm square stretch it as far as it can go along the crossgrain. Then let go and remeasure the square. A fabric that returns sharply to 10 cm is going to be great for most patterns. If your fabric measures over 14 cm, it may be better suited to looser fitting knit patterns, rather than something drafted with negative ease where it would likely end up bagging out.
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