Sewing with knits

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What’s that saying about when you are afraid of something, just dive right in? I feel that way about sewing with knits.

For a long time, I avoided it.

Or I’d do a project here and there and put my projects away after each attempt because of mistakes and poor fit.

For a while now, most of my summer sewing projects have been with knits. I’m literally trying to dive right in and immerse myself in learning which are the proper stitches to use, which weight of fabric works best for which project, which machine foot to use, and of course – understanding fabric grain (VERY important when sewing with knit fabrics).

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Enter my 7 month old daughter. First of all, clothes with give are a little easier to get on a squirmy baby. And, sewing clothes for her offer quick results, often with minimal fabric requirements (i.e. a dress for her might require between .5 meter to 1 meter versus a dress for me that requires… well, we don’t need to calculate those meters right this moment!).

I’ve been working on adding to her wardrobe. These pants/tights are a fun project because I can get the sizing right and then work on several pairs in an afternoon. There are many patterns available either at your local fabric store or online.

SIDE NOTE: How to you organize your thread? I found these containers at my local fabric store a while ago and they are perfect! I can put thread AND bobbin in each compartment so I am never searching for matching sets.

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Back to sewing with knits!

DSC_5365There are several stitches you can use to sew with knit fabrics. Generally you want something that gives with the stretch of the fabric which is why a basic stitch (like my go to 01 stitch won’t work). You can use twin needles to finish your sewing, and the lightening stitch, number 06, is a popular one. But I like to use stitch number 13 in the Utility menu in the above pic. If you have never used this stitch for knits, try it. It almost makes me feel like I have a serger the way it finishes the edge and provides enough give so the stitches don’t pop when the fabric stretches.

And it provides a nice finish on the right side of the fabric due to the straight stitch component of the stitch.

I have also started using my Janome Acufeed flex walking foot regularly when I’m sewing with knits. Because the fabric is so stretchy, I find having the upper feed dogs on the walking foot guiding the fabric, along with the teeth under the needle plate/on the bottom, it makes the fabric not stretch as much when I’m sewing.

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The final struggle I’ve been having with sewing with knit fabrics is understand grain of fabric. There are lots of tutorials on the web to help you understand this better and it is worth taking the time to learn this as it will take the finish on many of your projects up to the next level.

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These basic pants/tights are perfect for a growing baby. My final tip is with a one piece waist band, I like to put the seam at the very back. Why? Because then I know which way the pants should go without having to resort to adding a tag.

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These fit my girl perfectly – with lots of room to get us through a few more months!

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Do you do a lot of sewing with knits? What are your favourite things to sew with knits? I know there is a lot more to learn about sewing with knit fabrics. What are your tips and tricks?

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7 Responses to Sewing with knits

  1. Olga says:

    Your little daughter is simply adorable in her new knitted outfit. I like the idea of having the spool and matching bobbin in the same compartmental box. I’m presently using Aurifil boxes but as you know they don’t fit both. Can you tell me more about the box in the above photo? Thank you. Happy Canada Day!

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  2. Belinda Boncaro says:

    I use stay strip for the neck and shoulders. I use steam-a-seam 2 to fold my hem up and them sew.

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  3. OMG your daughter is too cute for words! Thanks for the info, Trina. Liz, Trina and company: are you allowed to list brands and names of stay tape that works with knits? After the Janome Education Summit I did some research, and thought using the stay tape that dissolves to hold the hem in place which stitching with a twin needle to hem it would be the bee’s knees! Just need to know what I should google up!

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    • lizafrica says:

      Hi
      Yes, we can use brand names – I use fusible Sewkeyse tapes. She is based in Florida but her website might give retailer info. I luckily have a few Janome dealers in Canada who stock it. If you can’t find, let me know and I’ll give you the dealer store names. I don’t use wash away as I want the stability to remain in my garment.

      Liz

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  4. Susie says:

    Wow! How sweet is your little one! There is a joy in sewing for our children!

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  5. Knit interfacing and tapes are my friend. They help stabilize without taking away the beauty of the stretch 🙂 – I always use these on my shoulder seams and hems and sometimes if the fabric is very wiggly (rayon & spandex) I use the tape down all the side seams well. Clear elastic is another good friend with knits and I use that often on shoulder seams especially if I’m going to hang it up like a dress.

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    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      Me too…..good point. I have rolls of fusible (as it is SO much easier) stay tape in a variety of colours and widths and I use them liberally in my knit sewing. Always gives much more professional results. Thanks for the tip for our blog viewers.

      Liz
      JANOME CANADA

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