The Spoonflower blog has been graced lately by virtual visits from some extremely talented guest posters. Among them, and up this week, is Dana Willard of the Made blog and author of Fabrics A to Z (called The Fabric Selector if you're UK-based). Dana has kindly offered to share her experience sewing with knit fabrics here on the blog today in conjunction with a generous giveaway of THREE copies of Fabrics A to Z. Even if you consider yourself somewhat experienced with knits, you may learn a thing or two from Dana--I know I did!
Read on for some pointers on knits and details of her book giveaway, and do remember to check out the Spoonflower blog this Monday when Dana will return to share an adorable tutorial using fat quarters of Spoonflower's organic cotton interlock knit. Enjoy!
Hello Spoonflower friends, I'm Dana from the DIY/Sewing/Design site MADE. Like most of you, I love browsing the Spoonflower vault for interesting patterns and prints. But I only recently discovered that fabrics can be purchased in interlock knit form! Did you know that? It made me smile, because we all love knit fabrics!
Knits aren't fussy, they stretch, they're unpretentious, and they’re just plain comfortable. I'm pretty sure that 75% of our family wardrobe is made up of knit tops and comfy shirts. But just as much as we love the textile, many of us are scared to sew with knits. If you fall into that category, it's time to put fear aside and embrace the adventure! At least that's how I look at sewing.
It's always an experiment, often fun, sometimes frustrating, but mostly exciting. And when you sew with knits and it works?!...you'll want to jump for joy and laugh at how mysterious store-bought T-shirts used to seem.knee pad pants • yellow ruffle swimsuit
What are Knit fabrics?
Last year I wrote a book called Fabrics A to Z, which outlines over 150 fabric types, how to sew with them, wash them, press them, which needles to use, all the nitty gritty. The fabrics are categorized by fiber content and also by the methods in which they were created: either knit or woven.
Knit fabrics are created in much the same way as a hand-knitted scarf, with needles that link yarns together in connecting loops. But the yarns used in knit fabrics are much more narrow than those used to create a sweater. Look closely at a T-shirt and you’ll see the small tiny loops and ribs I'm referring to. All these tiny connecting loops are what make knit fabrics stretchy (and the reason why we love them). But there are a few knits that have very little stretch, such as double-knit fabric. These are referred to as “stable knits”.
Stretchy knits are called “unstable knits” and can be categorized even further into two-way or four-way stretch, depending on how many directions the fabric will stretch. Spandex has amazing 4-way stretch and can be pulled up to seven times its length then bounces right back to its original shape.
Knit fabric types
goes into much more detail about the different types of knits, but here's a quick breakdown of the most
common knits you'll come across:
Jersey is the standard t-shirt fabric. It's lightweight to medium-weight and can be used for most knit garments.
Jersey with Spandex has fantastic stretch and can feel a bit slinky. I recently used some for the above beach cover-up and loved it.
Interlock is a bit thicker than jersey and is great for blankets, skirts, shirts, and lightweight jackets/cardigans, (and a secret project I'm sharing here on Spoonflower next week). The knits sold here on Spoonflower are organic cotton interlock and are absolutely wonderful, soft, and dreamy.
Fleece can be used for so many things...vests, jackets, pillows, blankets, scarves, hats, embellishments. Fleece comes in varying weights and fibers. Some pill, some don't. They're a forgiving fabric, easily hiding mistakes under the fluffy surface.
Ribbing is used for the cuffs and collars on most shirts. I always love to have a variety of colors on-hand. Whenever it's on sale at the store I buy a 1/2 yard of my favorite shades.
Lycra/Spandex is wonderful for swimsuits and leotards. And though it might sound scary to sew one...just go for it! The first time I made a swimsuit I sort of made it up as I went and it was really fun!
KNIT sewing Do's and Dont's
Now before I get technical, let's not get technical. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sewer. I’m supposed to tell you fancy things like use a ball needle or a walking foot but I don’t do either. I just sew with a normal needle, normal sewing machine, standard foot, and get going. And it works! But if you're a bullet points kind of person, here you go....
• Let the fabric feed itself through the machine. If you tug it, the fabric will stretch and pucker (unless that’s the look you’re going for).
• Use a ball needle so it doesn't snag the fabric as you go (but note above that I just use what I have on-hand).
• When using knits as an applique, sew slowly and stop every so often to lift the presser foot and allow the fabric underneath to relax and bounce back in place. If you try to sew a circle shape of knit fabric in one big swoop you’ll end up with a wonky looking project.
• Be scared. What's the worst that can happen? Your machine eats a piece of fabric and you toss it in the can? Totally worth it since next time you’ll be more armed and more skilled to create what you originally had in mind.
And that's Knits 101, in a nutshell. Do you feel ready to jump in with two feet? Let's do it! To get you started, today we're giving away three copies of my book Fabrics A to Z! And for a whole slew of sewing of ideas, check out my tutorials page here.
Thanks, Dana! If you'd like to be entered into the drawing to win one of three copies of Dana Willard's book, Fabrics A to Z, just leave your comment below or on the corresponding Facebook post and do include your Spoonflower screen name so that we can track you down if you're our winner. Entries will close next Tuesday, 10/23 and we'll announce a winner on 10/24. Good luck, fabric enthusiasts!
Last week, we gave three winners their choice of the top ten designs in our Zombie Plush Toy Fabric of the Week contest. The winners are Baily Witwer, Mashca Slot, and Sue Clearfield. Congratulations to the three of you, and we'll be in touch soon!