Last week we went over some basic woven fabrics that are commonly used in garment sewing (you can read all about it here). This week, we’re bringing you the knits! Knits, as a general rule, are a little trickier to work with because of the stretch factor, but they can also create some of the most comfortable and beautiful pieces of clothing imaginable once you get the hang of it. So don’t be afraid! Read up, and try your hand! Just don’t forget your ballpoint needles, use lots of pins, and start SLOW! You’ll be sewing knits like a pro before you know it!
The Top 10 Knit Fabrics for Garment Sewing
Cotton Lycra/Cotton Spandex
This is one of the more common types of knit around, especially with the explosion of custom knit small businesses in the last few years. These can range in weight/thickness from print to print, so make sure you check what you’re getting. It has a 4-way stretch, which makes it great when it’s a non-directional print because you don’t have to worry AS much about the pattern placement. Mid weights (10-12oz/yard) are usually a really nice weight for sewing with and wearing year-round. Lighter can work well for summer wear, but will be a little harder to work with and heavier will make nice cold weather gear. With it’s typically great stretch and recovery, this is a perfect choice for Ladies or Girl’s Sahara dresses!
Typically a lighter weight knit with a 2-way stretch, this is a common staple in making things like t-shirts. In fact, it’s perfect for the Ladies or Kids Reagan Raglan! It will typically be a little more slippery compared to the cotton lycra due to its lighter weight, but with lots of pins, it can make some pretty amazing things!
This one is really nice for durable and beautiful women’s clothing. Liverpool is a cross between a double knit and a crepe, which means you get the stretch and durability of the double knit with the beautiful texture of the crepe. It’s an absolutely perfect choice for some of the more fitted women’s knit garments like our newly released Amelia! You can find it in a wide array of gorgeous prints… I’ve seen some of the most beautiful florals ever printed on Liverpool.
Being lightweight and delicate, this will be one of the more challenging knits on this list to sew. Also, you will want to keep in mind that being a man-made fiber, it will not breathe as easily as natural fibers will. This makes it best for garments from fall to spring, as summer wear will likely induce excessive sweating. It is a lovely fabric, though, and definitely worth a mention here.
A fully natural fabric, this can be comparable to the cotton lycra in weight, although it will only have a 2-way stretch (side to side) and often won’t have the same kind of recovery that the lycra provides. One of the huge upsides of this fabric is it’s sustainable but also a good choice for all seasons. It is also a type that you can find in a HUGE array of colors and prints, so you can usually find just what you’re looking for.
Another tricky customer, but definitely worth the effort, sweater knit is unique in that it can come in a wide variety of fabric contents. It’s basically like someone did a ton of knitting, leaving just flat fabric behind for you to sew with. Sweater knit is typically monotone, striped, or heathered in various colors. It’s great for making fall and winter wear, like long-sleeved shirts or cardigans. In fact, Maggie would be adorable in a sweater knit.
Fleece is a heavy-weight polyester knit with a 2-way stretch. You can often find it made into things like blankets, but it can also make awesome garments like jackets, sweaters and car seat ponchos. Being a man-made material, it does a good job of blocking wind and keeping the warmth in. This makes fleece PERFECT for winter wear items.
Like regular fleece, this is ideal for cold weather clothing. It has a smooth outer side and a fluffy inner side, although, you can flip those sides when sewing if you so choose. This often doesn’t have a ton of stretch, so make sure the patterns you choose for this fabric have a lot of ease built in!
This is a specialized knit with very obvious ribbing running through it. It is great for things like neck bands and shirt cuffs. Rib knit can also be used for full garments as well. While this is most often found in solid colors, you can occasionally find it in some prints as well.
Nylon Spandex/Swim Knit
This is another specialized knit used primarily in the making of fitted bathing suits. Another type of fabric that might be used in a similar capacity is Polyester Spandex. Keep in mind, polyester does not hold up as well to the chlorinated water as nylon does. Both of these types of knits are also used regularly in the making of active or workout wear such as leggings, fitted tank tops, sports bras, etc. Just take extra care when sewing with these as they are very slinky and slippery and can be difficult to work with. I recommend extra pins and taking your time.
Also, don’t forget to join our group for answers to your questions, support, or just to show off some of the amazing BSD projects you’ve made! And be on the lookout for some AWESOME knits for yourself or your little so you can join our Sahara sew along starting next week! Are you ready???