Wednesday, 26 November 2014

SEWING TUTORIAL: SOME TIPS FOR SEWING WITH KNITS ( BONNIE SEW-ALONG #1)


Welcome to the Bonnie sew-along! To start it off and get us in the in the mood for sewing Bonnie up and using knits fabric I've collated a little list of handy tips for sewing especially with knit fabrics.  This is a handy little guide may help those of you who are a little hesitant
 ( or scared) of sewing with knits fabrics or those who may need a refresher.

SEWING KNITS WITH A REGULAR SEWING MACHINE

When sewing up knits overlockers tend to be the machine that comes to mind. They're fast, neat and handle stretch fabrics with ease. But what if you don't have one? 
Then simply ask yourself this question..

 Does your sewing machine have a zigzag stitch? 

If you answered yes then you can easily sew up knit fabrics using your sewing machine. For those of you who answered No, most sewing machines do have some sort of zigzag stitch on them. You  may need to take a closer look and have a bit of tinker.

The  Bonnie sewing pattern is also written assuming you are using a regular machine.
 

STITCHES TO USE ON YOUR SEWING MACHINE

You've found your zigzag stitch on your machine...Make friends with it. If you're having trouble finding it, it basically looks like a lighting bolt diagram on your machine. 
Test out your machine's zigzag stitch on some scrap fabric, 
as i said above make friends with it.

TOOLS YOU'LL NEED

Getting the right tools is another handy tip to get you on the right track with sewing with knits on your sewing machine. 
Use ball point needles when sewing up knit fabric. Their tips are slightly rounded, which means they push between the loops of the fabric, rather than pierce little holes, which isn't what you want for knit fabrics.
Grab yourself a twin needle as well. They can be used for top stitching, hems and pockets etc 
If your fabric is super stretchy then grab some stretch needles for this type of fabric.


 You can also dip your toes into the world of presser feet for your machine when sewing with knits. You don't have to of course, you can sew with a regular machine foot just change the needles. But if you do decide that presser feet tickle your fancy then take a look at walking foot or dual feed foot which are useful for helping to prevent one layer of fabric from stretching out while sewing. They basically grip the fabric and feed both layers of fabric through the machine at the same speed. 

Last but not least. Pins. If you can get your hands on ball point pins then do so, if not your everyday pins are fine just take care when using them that you don't leave holes in your fabric. 
 

 Knit fabrics are slippery suckers and cutting them out can be a task in itself. So if you can pick yourself up a rotary cutter and self healing mat. You'll be cutting out knit fabrics faster than lightening and more accurately. Mind you, sharp scissors and a steady hand work just as well. Pattern weights are also a handy thing to use when cutting out the fabric either with the rotary cutter and mat or scissors. Using pins can be a bit of a handful as you can easily pull and distort the fabric as you pin the pattern down.


OTHER NECESSITIES
One more little supply you need is clear plastic tape. This awesome supply will help you to stabilize those shoulder and waistline seams ( or anywhere you need it) preventing stretching out of the fabric in these areas. You can also use it make gathers or simply hold them in place, such as on the Violet pattern at the bust gathers. 



FABRIC QUALITY
When sewing with knit fabrics couple of important points are to pick out good quality knits to work with. Nothing will dampen your knit fabric love affair then when you use a cheap quality fabric and the end garment looks like s***. This may take practice to work out though, i have in my time worked with a whole heap of poor quality knit fabric eventually you'll be able to tell the good from the bad. A good tip to keep in mind when shopping for fabrics is to shop with your hands. Feeling the fabric will help you learn about its texture, weight, transparency etc 
So touch that fabric!



GRAINLINES

Its imperative to take note of the grainlines on knit fabrics and thankfully its an easy thing to find.  You want your stretch to run horizontally across the body, not vertical. For neck/sleeve bands, the stretch needs to run the length of the band.

 
STRETCH PERCENTAGE AND HOW TO TEST

 The Bonnie pattern is intended for knit fabrics that have at least 40% - 50% across the grain, plus good stretch recovery. To test your chosen fabrics stretch percentage and stretch recovery simply cut a 2'' strip of your fabric and roughly to 1'' high. Stretch it lengthwise making sure it approaches 3'' ( stretch capacity); when you let it go it should fling back to its original size ( stretch recovery); measure the piece to check. Doing this will also help you become more familiar with different types of knits fabrics, how they behave, what to use and what to steer clear of. 

FINISHING TECHNIQUES

Knits rarely fray so ultimately you don’t have to finish the seams, unlike on woven fabrics.  As usual pressing your finished seams on knit fabrics will, just the same as on a woven garment make it a whole lot neater and professional looking when done. 

WHAT NOT TO DO

When sewing with knit fabrics be very mindful of not stretching out the fabric while you sew. This can take some practice but you'll know you've done it when you've finished stitching and check your work and its pulled and stretch out in the areas where you've pulled too hard while feeding it through the machine. This being said though,when stitching on your neckline bands, cuffs and hem bands you will actually stretch them to fit the neckline, sleeve, bodice waistband etc

Also when cutting out your fabric don't let it hang over the edge if the table or wherever you're cutting it out. This again will easily stretch it out of shape.


There's a slew of information out there in the inter webs about sewing with knit fabrics, this post has really just the tip of the knit fabric iceberg and to kick off the Bonnie sew-along.  If you are new to the knit fabric game, like anything it just takes practice to help you get familiar with the nature of this type of fabric. Hopefully the above tips will help you on your way to having a great love affair with it.

If you plan to join in or simply want to lurk then you can follow the sew-along on the Bluegingerdoll Facebook sew-along page where you can pop up your progress photos, ask questions or find answers to your questions and find all the sew-along post as they get posted. You can also check out the sew-along happenings on the usual places such as Instagram, Twitter  or the Flickr group
Simply use the hashtag #Bonniesewalong to join in all the sew-along fun. 


If you need a refresher on why you need to sew-along then check out the post here on all the fab prizes you could win.


Do you have any sewing with knits tip you'd like to share? Then drop us a comment below!

Abby

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Thank you so much for the visit and leaving a comment!
I totally appreciate them all!

Happy sewing!

Abby
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