Are you ready to take your sewing skills to the next level and work with knit fabrics? Knits can be tricky to sew with, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be creating comfortable and stylish knit garments in no time.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the basics of sewing with knits, from understanding different types of knit fabrics to finishing techniques.
First, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of knit fabrics, each with their own unique properties and characteristics. From jersey to rib knit, each fabric behaves differently and requires specific techniques for successful sewing.
Once you’ve chosen your knit fabric, you’ll need to prepare your sewing machine for the task at hand. With the right tools and settings, you’ll be able to sew with ease and avoid common issues like stretching or puckering.
So let’s dive in and learn how to sew with knits!
Table of Contents
Understanding Different Types of Knit Fabrics
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of knit fabrics you’ll encounter when sewing with stretchy materials. Knit fabrics are made by looping yarns together, creating a stretchy and comfortable fabric.
There are many different types of knit fabrics, each with their own unique characteristics. One type of knit fabric is jersey knit, which is a lightweight, stretchy fabric with a smooth surface. It’s commonly used for t-shirts, dresses, and other apparel items.
Another type is interlock knit, which is a double-knit fabric that’s thicker and more stable than jersey knit. It’s often used for activewear and other garments that require more support. There’s also rib knit, which is a textured knit fabric with raised ribs or ridges. It’s commonly used for cuffs, collars, and waistbands, as it stretches well and holds its shape.
Understanding the different types of knit fabrics is important when selecting the right fabric for your project, as each type has its own unique properties and characteristics.
Preparing Your Sewing Machine
Before diving into sewing with knit fabrics, it’s important to prepare your sewing machine. This means choosing the right needle, setting the correct stitch length, and adjusting the tension as needed.
By taking the time to properly prepare your machine, you’ll ensure that your stitches are clean and even, and that your finished project turns out just as you envisioned it.
Choosing the Right Needle
To ensure your knit fabric doesn’t become damaged, you’ll want to use a ballpoint or stretch needle when sewing. These needles are specially designed to push the fibers of your knit fabric aside instead of piercing through them, which can cause runs or holes.
The ballpoint needle has a rounded tip that gently slides between the knit fibers, while the stretch needle has a slightly longer and more flexible shaft that can handle the tension and elasticity of stretchy fabrics.
When choosing the right needle for your knit project, consider the weight and composition of your fabric. Thicker knits may require a larger needle size, while delicate or thin knits may need a smaller one. You can also experiment with different needle types to achieve different effects, such as a twin needle for hemming or a metallic needle for embellishment.
Always test your needle on a scrap of fabric before starting your project to ensure the stitches look neat and the fabric doesn’t pucker or stretch out of shape.
Setting the Correct Stitch Length and Tension
Getting the right stitch length and tension can be tricky, but it’s important for achieving a polished final product when working with knit fabrics. Here are some tips to help you set the correct stitch length and tension:
Use a longer stitch length: When working with knits, it’s best to use a longer stitch length than you would with woven fabrics. This is because the longer stitches will allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the thread.
Adjust your tension: Knit fabrics require a different tension than woven fabrics. You may need to adjust your machine’s tension settings to achieve the perfect stitch. Start with a lower tension setting and gradually increase it until you find the perfect balance.
Test on scrap fabric: Before you start sewing your actual garment, test your stitch length and tension on a scrap piece of the same fabric. This will allow you to make any necessary adjustments without ruining your project.
Consider using a stretch needle: If you’re having trouble with skipped stitches or your thread breaking, try using a stretch needle. These needles are designed specifically for knit fabrics and will help prevent these issues.
Don’t pull on the fabric: Finally, when sewing with knits, it’s important to let the fabric feed through the machine on its own. Don’t pull or stretch the fabric as you sew, as this can cause puckering or distortion in the final product.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to set the correct stitch length and tension for your knit fabric project and achieve a polished and professional finish.
Cutting Out Your Pattern Pieces
Now that you’ve prepared your sewing machine, it’s time to move on to cutting out your pattern pieces. When working with stretchy fabrics, it’s important to handle them carefully to avoid distorting the shape.
To ensure accurate cutting, try using a rotary cutter and mat, and make sure to mark any notches or darts clearly.
Handling Stretchy Fabrics
When working with stretchy fabrics, you’ll want to make sure your machine has a stretch needle and you’re using the correct stitch setting to prevent the fabric from puckering or stretching out.
A stretch needle has a slightly rounded point and is designed to slide between the fibers of the knit fabric without breaking or damaging them. Using a regular needle can cause skipped stitches, thread breakage, and uneven seams.
In addition to using a stretch needle, you’ll want to choose the right stitch setting for your fabric. A zigzag stitch or a stretch stitch is ideal for stretchy fabrics because it allows the seams to stretch with the fabric. You can also use a twin needle for a professional-looking finish.
It’s important to test your stitch on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing your actual garment to ensure that the stitch is the right tension and won’t cause the fabric to pucker or stretch out.
With the right needle and stitch setting, you’ll be able to sew with knits confidently and create comfortable and stylish garments.
Tips for Accurate Cutting
To ensure precise cutting, you’ll need to invest in sharp fabric scissors and a rotary cutter with a cutting mat. The rotary cutter is particularly helpful for cutting through multiple layers of fabric, while the scissors are great for trimming and shaping.
Here are some additional tips to help you achieve accurate cuts:
Use pattern weights or heavy objects to hold your fabric in place while cutting.
Cut along the grainline to ensure that your knit fabric stretches properly.
Pull your fabric taut while cutting to prevent it from shifting and distorting the shape.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to cut your knit fabric with precision and confidence. Remember, accuracy in cutting is the foundation of a successful sewing project, so don’t rush the process. Happy sewing!
Sewing Your Knit Garment
When it comes to sewing your knit garment, it’s crucial to manage stretch and seam allowances. You don’t want your garment to be too tight or too loose, so make sure to use a stretch stitch and test the fit before sewing the final seams.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid puckering and skipped stitches. This can be prevented by using a ballpoint needle and adjusting the tension on your machine.
Managing Stretch and Seam Allowances
You’ll want to make sure that your seam allowances are consistent and not too tight when sewing with knits, as they can easily stretch and distort the fabric. When sewing with knits, it’s important to choose the right stitch and needle. A straight stitch can be too rigid and cause the fabric to pucker, so using a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch is recommended. A ballpoint needle is also essential when sewing with knits, as it won’t cut through the fabric fibers and will help prevent runs or holes in the fabric.
Another important tip when working with knits is to manage the stretch of the fabric. You can do this by using a walking foot or a stretch needle to help guide the fabric through the machine evenly. Additionally, you can adjust the pressure foot tension to make sure it’s not too tight, which can cause the fabric to stretch out of shape. The following table provides some guidance on how to manage the stretch and seam allowances when sewing with knits:
|Type of knit
|Stretch stitch or serger stitch
By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be able to sew with knits confidently and create beautiful, comfortable garments. Just remember to take your time and practice, as sewing with knits can be a little tricky at first. With a little patience and perseverance, you’ll soon be able to sew a whole wardrobe of knit garments!
Avoiding Puckering and Skipped Stitches
Avoiding puckering and skipped stitches is crucial when working with knit fabrics to ensure a professional and polished finish. One of the main reasons for these issues is the tension of the thread. It’s important to adjust the tension of your sewing machine to match the stretch of the fabric. This can be done by testing on a scrap piece of fabric before starting to sew.
Another way to avoid puckering and skipped stitches is to use the correct needle and thread. Knit fabrics require a ballpoint needle, which has a rounded point that slides between the threads instead of piercing them. The thread should also be stretchy to match the fabric. A good option is a polyester or nylon thread.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your knit clothing will look professional and polished.
Now that you’ve sewn your knit garment, it’s time to focus on finishing techniques.
Hemming and binding are essential to the overall look and durability of your garment.
You can also use a serger to create a clean, professional finish on the edges of your knit fabric.
Hemming and Binding
Hemming and binding knit fabrics can be tricky, but using a double needle and stretchy binding tape can make it easier and give your project a professional finish. When hemming a knit fabric, it’s important to use a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch to allow for the fabric’s natural stretch. Start by folding the hem up to the desired length, then pin it in place. Sew along the hemline, using a double needle to create a polished look. Be sure to use a ballpoint needle to prevent the knit fabric from snagging or tearing.
Binding is another option for finishing edges on knit fabrics. Stretchy binding tape is a great choice because it allows the fabric to stretch and move freely. To apply binding tape, start by cutting a strip of tape that’s slightly longer than the edge you want to bind. Pin the tape to the edge of the fabric, stretching it slightly as you go. Sew along the edge of the tape using a zigzag stitch, making sure to catch both sides of the tape. Once the tape is sewn on, fold it over to the wrong side of the fabric and sew it in place using a straight stitch. With these tips, hemming and binding knit fabrics can be a breeze!
|Pros of Hemming with Double Needle
|Cons of Hemming with Double Needle
|Clean, polished finish
|Quick and easy
|Limited needle sizes available
|Can be used on a variety of fabrics
|May cause skipped stitches on thicker fabrics
|Pros of Binding with Stretchy Binding Tape
|Cons of Binding with Stretchy Binding Tape
|Allows for natural stretch of knit fabrics
|Requires extra time and effort
|Provides a neat, finished look
|May be visible on the right side of the fabric
|Comes in a variety of colors
|Limited in width options
|May not be as durable as other binding methods
Using a Serger
If you’re looking to take your garment-making skills to the next level, using a serger can help you achieve professional-looking finishes on your projects. A serger, also known as an overlocker, is a specialized sewing machine that trims the raw edges of the fabric while stitching it together, creating a neat and clean finish.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Make sure to use the right needle and thread for the type of knit fabric you’re working with. A ballpoint needle and stretchy thread are recommended for most knits.
- Adjust the tension settings on your serger to ensure that the stitches are tight and secure. Test on a scrap piece of fabric before starting on your actual project.
- Keep the fabric flat and taut as you feed it through the serger. This will help prevent stretching or puckering of the fabric.
With a little practice, using a serger can become a valuable tool in your sewing arsenal. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and settings to achieve the perfect finish for your project.
Tips for Troubleshooting Common Issues
If you’ve ever experienced stretchy knit fabrics that stretch out of shape or uneven seams, don’t fret. Here are some tips to troubleshoot these common issues.
You can ensure that your knit projects look neat and professional by following these simple solutions.
Stretching Out of Shape
Don’t worry about stretching out your knit fabric while sewing, because you can easily avoid this by using a stretch stitch and handling the fabric gently.
A stretch stitch is specifically designed for knit fabrics, as it allows the seam to stretch with the fabric. This stitch is available on most sewing machines and looks like a lightning bolt. Be sure to test the stretch stitch on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing your actual project to ensure it’s the right stitch for your fabric.
In addition to using a stretch stitch, it’s important to handle the fabric gently to avoid stretching it out of shape. This means not pulling or tugging on the fabric while sewing, and avoiding ironing or pressing the fabric too hard.
It’s also important to use the correct size needle and thread for your fabric, as using a needle that’s too small or thread that’s too thin can cause the fabric to stretch or even break. By taking these precautions, you can easily avoid stretching out your knit fabric while sewing and create beautiful, well-fitting garments.
Uneven seams can ruin the look of your garment and leave you feeling frustrated with your sewing project. However, there are some tips and tricks you can follow to ensure your seams are even and polished.
Firstly, make sure you’re using the correct needle size and type for your knit fabric. Using a ballpoint needle can help prevent skipped stitches and uneven seams.
Secondly, use a stretch stitch or narrow zigzag stitch to allow the fabric to stretch and prevent puckering.
Thirdly, use a walking foot or dual-feed foot to help keep the fabric moving evenly through the machine.
Lastly, take your time and sew slowly, making sure the fabric isn’t bunching or stretching as you sew.
By following these tips, you can avoid uneven seams and create a professional-looking garment.
Advanced Techniques for Working with Knits
Now that you’ve mastered the basics of sewing with knits, it’s time to take your skills to the next level with some advanced techniques.
One key skill is sewing with stripes or prints, which requires some careful planning and attention to detail to ensure that the pattern lines up correctly.
Another useful technique is adding elastic to knit garments, which can help create a more comfortable and flattering fit.
Finally, you might also want to consider adding zippers to knit garments, which can add some extra flair and functionality to your creations.
Sewing with Stripes or Prints
You’ll love how easy it is to create fun and playful garments when you learn how to sew with stripes or prints! These fabrics can add texture and dimension to any project, but they can also be tricky to work with. Here are a few tips to help you sew with stripes or prints:
First, make sure to match the pattern or stripe at the seams. This can be done by pinning the fabric together at the seam and adjusting it until the pattern matches up perfectly. You can also use a guide, such as a ruler or a piece of cardboard, to help you line up the fabric. Second, consider cutting your fabric pieces in a single layer. This will allow you to see the pattern or stripe more clearly and ensure that each piece is cut to match. Finally, be sure to use a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch when sewing knits to prevent the seams from popping.
Here is a table summarizing the key tips for working with stripes or prints:
|Match patterns at seams
|Pin fabric together or use a guide to ensure pattern or stripe aligns
|Cut fabric in a single layer
|Allows for clearer pattern matching
|Use stretch stitch or narrow zigzag stitch
|Prevents seams from popping on knits
|Press seams open
|Reduces bulk and creates a neater finish
Adding Elastic or Zippers to Knit Garments
To easily add elastic or zippers to your knit garments, it’s important to follow a few simple steps. First, choose the right type of elastic. Look for elastic that’s specifically designed for knit fabrics, as it’ll stretch and move with the fabric. Avoid using regular woven elastic, as it may not provide enough stretch and can cause the fabric to pucker.
When adding elastic to your knit garment, be sure to measure the elastic to fit snugly but not too tightly. You don’t want the elastic to cut into your skin or create unsightly bulges. Pin the elastic in place before sewing, and use a zigzag stitch to attach it to the fabric.
For zippers, choose a stretchy or invisible zipper to prevent the fabric from bunching or pulling. Sew it in place using a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch, and be sure to reinforce the ends of the zipper with a few extra stitches to prevent it from coming loose.
With these simple tips, you can easily add elastic or zippers to your knit garments and create a comfortable, wearable piece that’ll last for years to come.
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