12 Tips and tricks for sewing with knits
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When working with fabrics like knit, the first thing to remember is that the fabric is knitted as in knit one, pearl one like a sweater instead of woven. A regular needle isn’t shaped correctly for the looping threads of a knit it can cause skipped stitches, wavy seams, and even holes in your fabric. So here are some tips for working with knits.
1. Use ballpoint pins to avoid damaging knit fabric while cutting and sewing.
2. Use a ballpoint needle its rounded instead of sharp and it is designed to push the thread around the knitting of the fabric, instead of piercing it and passes through the looped structure of the material without laddering it.
3. Use a stretch needle if the knit has a significant amount of Spandex or Lycra, the eye of the needle is designed to help when sewing elastic and avoid the skipped stitches commonly associated with sewing stretch fabrics.
4. Use the correct stitch a stretch stitch or a zig zag will allow the seam to stretch a little. I like to use 2 x 2 zigzag for joining seams.
5. Use stretchable thread for swimming costumes, dancewear or active wear anywhere you need significant stretch and recovery. Use it in the top thread as well as underneath in the spool.
6.Let the feed dogs pull the fabric through on the top and the bottom and support the weight of your project while you sew to avoid unnecessary stretching. You can add tissue paper on top of your fabric, under the presser foot or use a walking foot it helps feed the top layer through evenly with the bottom.
7. Stabilize your hem, either use a fusible knit interfacing/webbing to turn up and stabilize the hem before sewing. Or cut a long strip of your fabric the width of your hem and overlock it to the bottom edge then turn up the hem, this gives it more stability and is more effective than turning the hem over twice.
8. Use a twin needle for top stitching to mimic the finish of a Coverstitch with your traditional machine. You can buy a twin ballpoint needle. When using a twin needle, I pop the second spool of thread into a coffee mug behind my machine and thread as usual
9. Add clear elastic in a shoulder seam, waistline or under bust seam to stabilize it, you will have seen this on bought garments.
10. Loosening the tension can help if your seam is looking wavy but I would call this a last resort and make a note of what your ideal tension is normally before you start adjusting it. Practice on scraps folded in half to give two layers like a seam.
11. If some stretch occurs during the sewing process, hover your iron approximately 1" above the stretched seam and apply steam. The heat and moisture of the steam will help to shrink the seam back to its intended size and shape.
12. Invest in a four thread overlocker/serger to construct your garment and a coverstitch machine to finish your garment off.
If you've found some of these useful please check out our top tips for a professional finish post.