How to sew with knit fabrics

Stretch your knowledge of Knits

With a change of season just around the corner, the pattern makers are wowing us with knit dresses and tops to take us from summer into autumn. Well-made knit fabric garments
create a wonderful flattering drape and require much less fitting (which is good news)
but at the same time, they can be a little tricky to work with

What actually is knit fabric?

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

Top tips

Frankie Knit dress from Tessuti

Frankie Knit dress from Tessuti

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.

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 needle - Ballpoint
Best presser foot - Walking foot
Best stitch – Narrow zigzag
Best seams – Use a stay tape or knit interfacing within the seam to keep the seams from stretching out of shape