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To Cut or Not to Cut: Knits on the Bias

February 10, 2013

Normally, cutting a fabric on the bias is something you do when you want a garment to drape beautifully and skim the body, but what about knits? They normally already have the properties that make bias cutting so appealing when working with wovens. Here's what made me want to cut knits on the bias: stripes. I've been wanting striped t-shirts, but I am not exactly enthused by horizontal stripes on my clothes. So, I decided to conduct a little stripe-speriment.

I opted to use a vintage pattern for my first shirt. A friend of mine gave this one to me as a gift, and I've been wanting to adapt the basic shirt into a modern garment. I selected a Ponte Roma stripe for my fabric.

1-knits-bias.jpgSince this pattern has seams at the center front and center back and I knew I wanted to create a chevron at those seams, I cut out the pattern in single layers instead doubling my fabric.

2-knits-bias.jpgThen I was able to use those pieces to align my stripes perfectly to cut the mirror pieces.

3-knits-bias.jpgI also cut a basic facing, using the neckline edges of my pattern pieces as a guide.

The assembled shirt will be a great transition piece from winter to spring, because the knit is a little heavier than a t-shirt. I like the combination of the chevron and the gathering at the sides.

For my second bias-cut knit shirt, I used a more modern pattern and a lighter weight rayon blend yarn dyed striped jersey knit fabric.

This one had seams only at the sides, so I just folded along the bias and cut  the front and back along the fold.

6-knits-bias.jpgThis one is of course a good bit simpler in terms of assembly, since there's no chevron to line up. Since it's also a lighter weight knit, It'll be great as the weather warms up.

There are a couple of tips to keep in mind when working with bias-cut knits:

     - Be careful not to stretch your fabric as you stitch to prevent bubbling and distortion at the seams.
     - As a rule of thumb, the more seams your pattern has, the beefier you want your knit to be. Heavier knits will be less prone to the distortion mentioned above.
     - If your fabric is really prone to stretching awkwardly, even when you're being careful, you might want to baste your seam first, using a piece of narrow ribbon as a stabilizer for the seam.
If you choose your fabric carefully, there's nothing to fear when cutting knits on the bias. While my projects feature stripes, other prints can be cut on an angle to create kaleidoscopic designs and figure-flattering lines.
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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on February 10, 2013 3:21 PM.

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