How to choose knit fabrics

The pattern makers are WOWing us with knit dresses and tops

A well-made knit fabric garment has a wonderful flattering drape and requires much less fitting (which is good news)! But at the same time, they can be a little tricky to work with! Here’s a few pointers on how to choose knit fabrics

What’s knit fabric?

Knit fabrics are made up of rows of interlocking yarn loops providing the fabric with its stretch.

Top tips

1. Knit fabrics can suffer from pilling when worn and washed. You can test a fabric before buying by rubbing a swatch together to see what affect friction has on it. 

2. You’ll need to know how much stretch a fabric has and how it reacts when it’s stretched. Sewing patterns that have been designed for knits will have a stretch gauge to measure a 4in piece of fabric’s crosswise stretch to check for distortion. For Simplicity, this is called the Pick A Knit Rule.

Look for the crossgrain in the knit fabric you’ll be using which is found from selvedge to selvedge. The standard tube fabric crossgrain will be found across the width of the knit. Take two pins and measure a 4in line across the grain while it isn’t stretched. Place the measured line on the fabric over the pattern where your pick-a-knit gauge from arrow to arrow. Place one pin at the start of the gauge and move the other pin to the end of it to see how far the fabric can stretch and mark the point where the stretched fabric reaches before it changes appearance.

3. Knit fabrics although don’t fray, the raw edges can roll up when cutting or washing. For knits that are more prone to this, finish raw edges with a top-stitched hem and twin needle. This will produce a neatening zigzag stitch on the reverse.

4. When buying a knit fabric, it’s important to feel the quality. Some knits can be quite rough on the skin, and usually the softer the feel, the better the drape.

Best tools to use when sewing with knit fabrics

Needle – Ballpoint
Presser foot – Walking foot
Stitch type – Narrow zigzag
Seam type – Use a stay tape or knit interfacing within the seam to keep the seams from stretching out of shape

If you like this feature on ‘How to choose knit fabrics’ then you’ll love the ‘Learn to Sew’ page here.