Working with knit fabrics

In my last post on the Janome Life Blog of 2020, I said that one of the things I really wanted to spend more sewing time on this year was apparel sewing.

Well, I’m making good on that goal and here I am, two toddler-sized tunics done and more in the works.

I’ve long been a little hesitant of sewing with knit fabric. I’ve dabbled in it a bit here and there but different aspects of the process always make me wonder if I’m doing things right.

I’ve also wondered whether I *have* to have a serger to properly work with knit fabrics. Well they are wonderful machines (and I do want to add one to my sewing room), but for someone who is still dabbling in knit fabrics, my Janome Skyline S9 continues to show me how versatile it is and that it works great for my knit projects.

One of the things that has made all the difference for me, is to find good knit fabric. Find something you are going to love wearing. And find something that is a good quality. You will notice the difference right away when you start to work with it. I love a knit that has a bit of a weight to it and doesn’t curl up at the ends. It’s so much easier to work with and sew.

For my daughter’s favourite new tunic top, I used this pattern here.

Six pieces cut out and I was ready to sew.

There are several stitches you can use when working with knit fabrics. Consult your sewing machine machine to see what options you have on your machine.

The Janome Skyline S9 has several stitch options, including one that is similar to a serger stitch which I have used – depending on how I want to finish my seams.

When working with knit fabric, you want a stitch that will stretch with the fabric. I have started using a zigzag stitch and adjusting the width and length. So that I don’t have to play around each time I set up to do some sewing with knit fabric, I have placed a note in with my machine accessories as a reminder!

The Janome Skyline S9 screen makes it easy to adjust.

And of course I practice on a small piece of fabric before I start sewing my pattern pieces together. You want a zigzag stitch with enough stretch that it moves with your fabric and won’t break if the fabric is stretched. And tight enough that your seams are secure.

And once I am happy with my zigzag stitch, it is time to get sewing.

Ideally when sewing with knit fabric, you want to use a ballpoint or stretch needle especially made for knit fabrics. The rounded tip allows it to glide between the fabric threads rather than piercing through the fabric threads and breaking them. This is also why I just clips instead of pins when securing fabric pieces together. Although you can find straight pins with a ballpoint finish, as well.

This pattern comes together quickly and easily.

Depending on what kind of knit fabric you are sewing with, you may also wish to use the Janome AcuFeed Foot. This is particularly helpful for slippery or bulky knit fabrics.

I used my regular foot and just paid special attention to guide my fabric.

My daughter has been going through several growth spurts lately and I’m so excited to add these two new tunic tops to her rotation of tops/dresses and leggings.

Can you even?? They make this pattern in adult size and I feel like I really need to make one for myself.

What sewing goal have you set for yourself in 2021?

Do you do a lot of sewing with knits?

Should I make a matching tunic top and be a twinsie with my three year old? Yay or nay?

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4 Responses to Working with knit fabrics

  1. Lucy says:

    Most appreciative of this tutorial sewing with knits fabrics. Thank you!


  2. Mary Jo SheedyDawson says:

    This post is so timely for me! I have 5 granddaughters who would all love a beautiful tunic…and so would their moms! Excited to get started.


  3. Jan L Johnson says:

    thank you for sharing all this info, your daughter in her top looks so cute!! I might look into this as an adult myself!!


  4. petalcup says:

    Love the fabrics. Quality makes all the difference. My mother owned a fabric store and I’m very hands on when purchasing fabric. I really want to feel it. Cuter than those tunics is your 3 yr old. Big smile, hands on hips, perfect model. Thanks for the post and knit tips.


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