The Great Knit Fabric Experiment {Sewing With Knits}

Last week I alluded to some great knit fabric that I was working with. Well here is the post I've been working on for the past month! 

I was contacted by Stitch Simple a few months ago about working with some fabulous organic cotton knit fabrics. I didn't have to think twice about saying yes. It's no secret I like to sew with knits and I'm always looking for great suppliers of quality knit fabrics.

I chose fabrics from the color palette above (Solstice, Apricot, Lime Green interlock) plus a lovely cream interlock. The best part about the fabric is that when you order through Stitch Simple (they also carry quilting cottons), it arrives pre-washed! It also means no shrinkage (and did you know some knits can shrink up to 12%). Yes, that also means no more fabric added to the "please wash and press me" pile. 

 ~They are starting to mumble and grumble in there, I'm worried a mutiny is on the horizon~

The Challenge ~

I've chosen three patterns that are designed to be sewn with woven fabric so I can show you how well they actually work with knit fabric with little or no alterations. All the patterns are from independent pattern companies (I love you guys) and can be purchased and downloaded as a PDF which is nice because there is no tracing, just print and cut your size. I'll also show you how to add a simple knit cuff to almost any knit fabric garment.

{I'm not going to go into too many techniques and tips here because seriously there are a zillion blog posts with pretty much everything you need to know to get started. You Tube is also a great resource for you visual folks. What I really want to show you here is that not only are knits not scary to sew with, but that you also don't need a special sewing machine or "knit specific" patterns. Although I use a serger for my seam work, the beauty of sewing with knits is that they don't ravel so a straight stitch machine really is all you need}

Here are the three patterns I chose to work with. The Relaxed Beach Shirt by DMKeasywear. Heidi and Finn Sweet Wrap Dress. And of course I couldn't leave out the pant pattern that I use most often. Carla from the Scientific Seamstress designed the Easy Fit Pant which although designed for wovens looks pretty darned cute made with knits and adding a narrow cuff.

Here are my versions all made from organic cotton interlock...

Don't you just love the leaf fabric (Solstice). It is really a gorgeous print. I was excited to find a green button in a leaf shape to add to my pleat detail.

I finally tried using a twin needle (I know, where have I been). I'm not sure why I haven't before, but I found this video helpful for threading my machine when using twin needles. I've done tons of knit sewing without one so don't worry if your not ready to try it out just yet. When sewing with knits you want to use a knit specific needle or a ballpoint needle. You'll also want to set your stitch length longer. On my machine I generally adjust to either 2.8 - 3.0. I test on a scrap piece of the knit I am sewing with.

The Harmony Art knits are really easy to work with and I didn't have to change too much in the patterns when working with these knits. For a true beginner sewing with knits, using interlock is definitely the way to start. If you are new to sewing with knits, Oliver + S has some great information about the different kind of knits.

Don't get discouraged when sewing with knits. Sometimes as you are sewing, things can seem to go awry (look at that hemline above). When pressing your knit garment make sure that you don't drag your iron across the fabric. With a steam setting you want to do more of a dab and press motion.

Interlock knits have less stretch than other knits and therefore translate very well when using patterns designed for woven fabric. In many cases when using a pattern intended for wovens you may want to adjust the sizing down because of the stretch. When I made these garments I did not adjust the size, but I did adjust the seam allowances to make them smaller. I believe all three garments are pretty true to size when made with the knits I used.

If a pattern calls for bias tape made from woven fabric (like the neckline of the Relaxed Beach Shirt) you will not cut knit fabric on the bias as you would for bias tape made from a woven fabric. Using either the same knit fabric as the garment or a rib knit, you will cut your binding across the grain or across the stretch. Kitschy Coo does a fabulous job of showing you the many different ways you can achieve this look with knit binding.

Below are two different tutorials  I created for this knit challenge. The Box Pleat Cuff as shown in the Easy Fit Pants uses my cuff pattern that can be downloaded by clicking the second photo.

Box Pleat Cuff: Tutorial ~click on  photo~

Knit Cuff:Tutorial with pattern size 12 mo-6yr~ 
click on  photo for pattern link~

I'll be making a few more things this week with different knit fabrics from Stitch Simple.

Here's a list of patterns and tutorials for patterns using knit fabrics. Obviously there are many more out there, these are just some of the patterns I've used and would like to use in the near future. If you have other favorites leave them in the comments section so other readers can find them too!

OTTOBRE design magazine
Sewing Clothes Kids Love I love the IMKE top (hope to make this in the next week)
 90 Minute Shirt by MADE (tutorial to make a pattern)
Snow Pixie Hat (free pattern)
Modkid Sewing Patterns
Oliver + S Sewing Patterns
Lil Blue Boo Patterns
Hipster Hoodie Pattern by Running With Scissors



oversewn said...

Sascha - AWESOME!! I was just thinking last night about trying out some Oliver&S patterns in knit, just to see what would happen. I love that you have done this!! And pre-washed knits - I am so all over that! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Love the post!!
Pop over and visit ours if you have the time. :)

Harmony said...

Great informative post. Thanks for being a part of The Experiment. Lovely!

Clover said...

Very cool thanks. Do you thing the sweet wrap dress could handle woven on one side and knit on the other?? I have had this pattern for a bit and really want to sew but havent decided on fabric yet.

badlandsquilts said...

Your ribbing looks so perfect, cute garments!

Sascha said...

Clover, I do think you can "line" the dress with a knit. Although it is reversible, if you choose knit as one of the fabrics it will seem more like the lining. Since I used two fabrics of exact weight and body I did not change anything during cutting, but if I did it again with two different fabrics I would cut the lining a teensy bit smaller so that when the dress is turned right side out and pressed, the lining fabric will slightly pull the outer fabric in. Does that make sense? That way the lining doesn't peep through. I'm not good at describing it.

sam lamb said...

Sascha - what a great post and those fabrics look wonderful. And I LOVE the hipster hoodie pattern...hmm. Must. Go. Sew. Now.

Kimberly said...

Dude this must have taken you ages to write. It's the KNIT MOTHERLOAD! Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is bookmarked and archived for future reference.

Meg said...

Great post! Thanks for all the info. I am still nervous working with knits.

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