Sewing with Knits
Today we're playing along with Rae of Made by Rae. I love her blog! It's where I found my idea for the slippers I made here and here. She's in SE Michigan too, so I'll be keeping an eye out for future crafting meetups!
Made by Rae readers, I want to warn you, my pictures aren't as pretty as Rae's yet. I'm still working to figure my photography out, but please take a look around and let me know what you think!
A lot of seamstresses are kind of freaked out by knits. I know I was! There are a billion different ways you can work with them, and it can be hard to know where to start. Rae has put together a list of questions she has been asked (or would like to know) about working with knits, and as somebody who has become a complete knit convert, I'm going to try my best to answer them!
1. Did you ever fear knits? 2. If so, do you remember a specific turning point?
I was absolutely terrified of knits. They stretch when you cut, they stretch when you pin, they stretch when you sew...I didn't even want to try. Luckily for me, my overpriced sewing lessons (ie, my college degree) forced me to. My instructor walked us through the different ways of working with knits, I made this dress for an assignment and I was hooked.
Woo...I def don't look like THAT in this dress anymore.
3. What types of projects do you typically sew with knits?
Usually I make clothing for myself when I'm working with knits. I have an abnormally long torso and so it's incredibly difficult for me to find off-the-rack shirts that cover my stomach. Because I'm so long waisted, dresses almost always have the "hips" in the wrong place. If I want something that fits correctly, I almost have to make it myself.
I do some sewing with knits for G, but mostly just to experiment with putting in snaps for onesies, or to reuse old garments. His grandmas keep him pretty well clothed, so he doesn't tend to need me to make him much.
My bitsy baby in a sweater made from Daddy's old pull over.
4. Do you prefer sewing with knits or wovens?
It's no contest! Knits every time! I was silly to be afraid of them, knits are so much more forgiving than wovens! Plus, it's much easier to get a "store quality" look from a knit if you're in a rush than it is with a woven. And lets be honest, with a toddler, I'm always in a rush.
5. Do you have a favorite type of knit?
So far jersey is my favorite knit to work with. I've found interlock to not have enough stretch for most of the patterns I want to work with, and I just love the tshirt feeling my clothes have when I make them from jersey. Ribbed knit and I don't get along. I don't like it and it doesn't like me. We're considering couple's therapy in the hope I'll be able to one day make a ribbed turtleneck.
6. Where do you usually buy your knits?
Honestly, a lot of my knits are reclaimed. I always check the linen section of my local Salvation Army for knit sheets and snatch up any good sets I find. Other than that, I just keep an eye out whenever I'm in any fabric store. It can be tough to find inspiring stuff in the mainstream stores, but every once in a while you'll luck out. I'm a horrible fabric hoarder and grab 2 or 3 yards of any knit I see that I like...even if I don't have a plan for it. That way when inspiration strikes, I can usually work from my stash.
7. Any hints for buying knits online?
I don't buy my fabric online yet. I've been super tempted by Spoonflower, but until I get my hoard of fabric down to a reasonable level, I just can't justify giving myself a new way to indulge my textile habit.
8. What brand/model machine do you use primarily for sewing knits?
I fairly exclusively use my Janome 1110 DX serger for sewing anything anymore. What can I say, I've gotten addicted to one-step finished edges.
9. Do you use a serger? More/less/same amount as your machine when sewing knits?
As I said, I use my serger almost exclusively, but that's true of when I'm working with wovens too. You certainly don't have to use a serger. My first black dress (shown above) was done entirely on an old Kenmore sewing machine from the 70's and it is still in perfectly good shape almost a decade later.
10. What's your "default setting" on your machine? (Stitch type, length, width)
I don't really mess with the settings on my serger when I change from woven to knit (and back again). My stitch length stays around 4 and I just use the usual, two needle overlocking stitch.
11. Walking foot? Yay or nay?
I actually got my serger before I got my current sewing machine. As I mentioned before, the machine I had been working with was older than me and I really doubt I'd have been able to find a walking foot for it...if it ever would have supported one in the first place! I haven't looked for one with my new machine because up until recently I've been able to do everything I wanted to with the serger. I might look into it soon as there are some new techniques I want to try!
12. Double needle: your thoughts?
Same basic answer...haven't tried one, yet.
13. Do you have any tips or tricks for sewing knits you've found helpful?
Using wooly nylon for thread. That's the stuff above. See how the thread is a little fluffy? It gives your seams more stretch than normal thread does and makes them less likely to bunch. I love it in my serger and just got my sewing machine set up so I can try it on there.
I hope this helps anyone with hesitations about trying to sew with knits. Try it! I think you'll be surprised how easy they are to work with. And of course, if you have any other questions, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email.