Tips and Tricks How to Sew with Knit Fabrics

Tips and Tricks How to Sew with Knit Fabrics

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Hey folks, it’s time to talk about knit fabrics and I’m gonna be totally honest with you: my first sewing project with a knit fabric ended up being a disaster🙄

I simply wasn’t aware that there are a few things that need to be considered when sewing with this type of fabric, so the results were skipped stitches and a damaged fabric. Of course, I started my knit dress-to-be with the front darts, so the mistakes were nearly impossible to cover up🙈

Pile of Clothes on Chair
Pile of Knit Fabrics. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash.

As I don’t want you to have the same frustrating experience, I will share my 5 tips and tricks with you for sewing with knit fabrics. And then it’s not as difficult as you might think😊 Let’s dive into it!

The Right Needle

First of all, be aware that you need special needles when sewing with knit fabric! There are the following categories (at least to my knowledge):

Ballpoint Needles

The difference to a normal needle is that it has a rounded tip which means that the needle can pass through the weave of the fabric without cutting into the fibre of the fabric and therefore without causing any damages. It’s probably the most common needle to use when sewing with knit fabrics.

Stretch Needles

This is also a needle with a ballpoint tip but specially designed to work with super stretchy fabric. I personally haven’t used stretch needles yet but will let you know once I do. Maybe in a future swimsuit project?😉

Twin Needles

A twin needle has a single shaft to insert into the machine but then two needles that come out of the shaft. This gives you two parallel lines when sewing that you can use for cover stitches, for example when doing a hem. Have a look at your t-shirt, for example, your hem probably has two rows of parallel stitches.

Sewing Machine Needle
Photo by Ilya lix on Unsplash

Side note💡: If you are unsure about how to change the needle on your sewing machine, stay tuned, a separate blog post about this will follow soon. Don’t want to wait? Have a look at your instruction booklet. A description of how to change the needle should be in there.

The Right Stitch

The second important point is that you need to choose the right stitch when sewing with knit fabrics. Think about it: when you sew with a stretchy material – such as a knit fabric – you also need a stitch that stretches, right? We don’t want burst stitches when we put on our garments. The solution here is to choose a stitch from the zigzag selection as they have the “stretchiness” we’re looking for.

Sewing Machine Stitches
Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

In my first and so far only knit-fabric-project, I’ve chosen a very small zigzag stitch that you barely notice. And I’ve been very happy with the result. However, most sewing machines have various zigzag stitches available so just choose the one you like most.

Side note💡: it’s always good to test your machine settings including your stitch on a separate piece of spare fabric before you start with your project. As you will mostly sew on two fabric layers, you might also want to fold your test piece in half.

The Right Sewing Technique

While sewing, it is important that you don’t stretch your fabric out, so don’t pull on the fabric as you go. Also, make sure that your knit fabric doesn’t hang off your sewing machine as this might cause a stretch as well.

Person sewing on machine
Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash

Side note💡: depending on how stretchy your fabric is and what you are about to create, you might also need to buy some additional products such as clear elastic or stay tape. Such details will give your finished garments the final touches.

The Overlocker Solution

The above tips are all for sewing on a regular sewing machine. However, if you have an overlocker, first of all, lucky you, and secondly, use that as it is supposed to be easier for sewing with knit fabrics. I can neither confirm nor decline this as I don’t have an overlocker – or let’s rephrase this to “as I don’t have an overlocker YET”😉

The (Online) Course Solution

After my failed first project, I didn’t want to take another risk and decided to participate in the Intro to Sewing with Knit Fabrics online class from Sew Over It. In the course, you learn some techniques for sewing with knit fabrics and build up your skills stitch by stitch. Plus lots of best tips are shared about how to sew with this type of fabrics.

Intro to Sewing with Knit Fabrics Banner
Intro to Sewing with Knit Fabrics class from Sew Over It (source:https://sewoverit.co.uk/)

Also included are two patterns: the Emma Dress and the Alice Top. So if all goes well, you end up having two lovely and handmade garments ready to wear😃👗

I hope this blog post was helpful and that you came across it before starting your first knit fabric project!

Happy sewing,

Yvonne

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