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Sewing- Knit Pattern Prep

March 30, 2011

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My April Blog theme is Spring Wardrobe and I am prepping for a few knit pieces. As I have been preparing, I thought it might be a good idea to post my progress and some of my short cuts as well as tools that I have found handy for successful knit sewing on a conventional machine. If you could have seen some of my first knit projects, you would only laugh. You would probably pull out something similar from your project archives- filed under "Never to see the light of day again/Failure". My first knit projects were copies of t shirts that I loved and my instructions were a few tutorials here and there from blogland. Like a teenager with out of context instructions I was sure I knew it all and jumped in with both feet. I was aghast at my outcome. A few years, a few more tutorials and a few knit sewing books (read from cover to cover several times) under my belt, my projects are looking good and I feel confident. I am not the teenager -in sewing terms-- anymore but nor am I the wise old wizard, with a "been there, done that" attitude knowing that I have faced all situations. I am just a girl with a regular sewing machine sewing knits pretty well. Here's how I do it.

I prep. HARD. I wash all my knit fabric and wash it exactly after I wear the garment. This is SO important. As much as I want to give my fabric special treatment- I treat it like any other piece of knit clothing. Next, I press all the wrinkles out and then lay it out as though to cut it on my cutting table and let it rest for an hour or more (I sometimes get distracted). The pressing can stretch and distort the knit and letting it rest will give you a truer cut than cutting into it right away.

I stay away from light weight jersey and use medium weight knits. This is my preference. I like more weight to my fabric because of the drape and how it falls on my shape. I also prefer it to sew. Light weight jersey curls like Shirley Temple's hair and it is NOT fun to sew. I also find that it is harder to rip with a seam ripper but I really think that is all me. I am probably just projecting now. I love interlock and medium weight jersey; stable knits like Ponte are also really fun.

Knits have a smaller seam allowance so if you are not comfortable with that you can cut a bigger size.

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Recently I made a muslin of a knit dress for one of my upcoming projects. I had a problem with the fit. The pattern had me pegged at exactly a size 14 but it ended up being too big. I receive a great comment from Michelle Louise suggesting that I not go by the size on the envelope but measure the pattern pieces themselves. This was a great tip and it has worked really well in helping me avoid the wrong size.

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I use a walking foot and it has turned my knitting life around. A regular foot would always leave me with mismatched fabric not just lengthwise but it would shift widthwise as well. I would spend so much time pinning and shifting while sewing that sewing knits was not enjoyable. With my walking foot, I use just a few pins and my fabric stays straight, inline and matches all the way to the end of the seam. Sewing knits is not stressful anymore.

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I use freezer paper instead of cutting my patterns. Since I can never be sure that I am cutting the right size the first time, I just trace my pieces onto freeze paper, cut them out and iron them onto the fabric. I don't have to pin and they are reusable. This works so well with my rotary cutter. There is very little fabric distortion due to pinning and weights.

You can follow my upcoming knit wardrobe projects on twitter and follow Fabric.com to get the latest on deals and news from the fabric world.  

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Those are -great- tips. I haven't done much with knit for so many reasons! It's intimidating. So many different types, hard to cut, pin & sew, and the selection isn't always fantastic. I'm definitely looking into a walking foot and looking for some patterns.

I'm going to make some play dresses for my daughter and want to use a stretch knit. I looked at some jersey knit in a store today and it was practically see through. I see you like medium weight knits, but I'm not sure where to find them on the Fabric.com website.


Thank you for saying how long it took for you to complete the garment. I think that many sewers will be using that as a baseline for themselves. Many beginners do not realize how long it takes to cut a garment out, for instance, and then get frustrated.
May I suggest that a sewer add to the seam allowance, using a seam gauge, rather than going up to the next size. The grading/sizing of the pattern will make the end product too big especially at the neckline.

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This page contains a single entry by published on March 30, 2011 5:37 PM.

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