12 Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabrics

Bolts of knit fabrics

If you’re like me, you probably started learning to sew using only woven fabrics. Sewing with knits is very different because all knits have a degree of natural stretch to them which changes the way the they behave during sewing. So, if you’re just starting to learn how to sew with knits or if you just want some tips read on below.

Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabrics

1. How to find the right side:

  • Knits tend to curl at the selvage edge toward the right side of the fabric
  • The right side often has visible V-shaped knit stitches along the grain while the wrong side has cross-grain loop

2. If you’re not sure where the selvage edge is, look for either a tailor’s tac or ink markings along the edge. Manufacturers usually do one of these two so you can spot the selvage edge easier.

3. When sewing with knits, do not use pins for cutting out pattern pieces. Knits generally do not heal from pin holes. Pins can even cause a run in the fabric. If you feel like you need something to hold the paper pattern pieces steady, try using little pattern weights or wonder clips.

4. For finer knits, use stabilizing tape or paper to keep seams in place during sewing. It’s also a good idea to place some pattern (or tracing) paper underneath your knit fabric both at the beginning and at the end of sewing your seams. This helps prevent your sewing machine from ‘eating’ your fabric and you can simply tear the paper away when you’re done.

5. Another thing I’ve found helpful is to use a walking foot. While these are usually used in quilting, they actually help move your knit fabric layers along more evenly while sewing which helps create more straight and clean-looking seams.

6. Use stabilizing tape if you need to attach a zipper. Otherwise, your zipper may end up looking like a roller coaster ride.

7. Knits that roll in at the edges do not require hems and can actually be left ‘raw'(and leaving a raw edge is actually trendy trendy right now). Note: if it’s a knit that rolls-up a lot, leave a little larger hem allowance to compensate

8. If you’re having trouble sewing because the fabric is curling, try spraying it with some starch. This will just help ensure the fabric lays flat while sewing and will wash out in a washing machine.

9. if you’re using interfacing, make sure you use one with stretch. Otherwise, it could create a more stiff/heavy garment than what you had in mind.

10. Use a ball-point needle as they prevent tearing (these needles are designed for working with knits). There are also stretch needles you can use if you’re sewing a knit that has a lot of stretch (due to lycra or spandex) such as swimwear fabrics.

11. Use synthetic thread (such as polyester) because it is less likely to snap when being stretched.

12. And, my last tip, use a thin strip of clear elastic to stabilize shoulder seams. You can cut it to match the length of your shoulder seams, and just sew it onto your seam allowance.


Photo by Azamat Zhanisov on Unsplash

Mood Guide to Fabrics.

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