Celebrating the recent addition of Performance Knit to the Spoonflower fabric family, Emma Jeffery from Hello Beautiful stops by to share a sewing tutorial using one of her favorite knit dress patterns, and offer tips for sewing with this colorful new apparel fabric!
The thought of sewing with knits can sometimes strike fear in a seamstress, but Spoonflower’s new Performance Knit is a dream to sew up, and with its brilliant, vibrant hues that hold their color after repeated washing, you’ll be creating beautiful garments in no time. When selecting your pattern, I recommend choosing one with simple, clean lines, especially if you are a less experienced seamstress. I used the Miz Mozelle pattern by Jamie Christina Designs which was written with stretch fabrics in mind, and I chose Hot Weave fabric by Scrummy to sew it up.
As ever, you should pre-wash your fabric before using it; the Performance Knit has about 1 - 2% shrinkage after washing. The Performance Knit is a glorious 58” wide (I find it so much easier to lay out patterns on wide fabrics) but be sure to prevent the excess fabric from hanging over the edge of your cutting table which will cause the fabric to stretch as you cut it. If you are pinning the pattern to your fabric, be sure to place the pins within the seam allowance to avoid damaging the fibers. When sewing with knits, I usually use a ball-point needle on my machine which pushes the fibers to the sides. Regular sewing machine needles pierce through the fabric and can result in breaking a knit’s fibers, so it’s worth investing in one if you plan on sewing knits often and want a good result.
Next, you need to prepare your machine for sewing the knit. My machine has a stretch fabric setting but since not all machines do, I will outline a few basic points to consider. Since all machines are set differently, you may need to run a few lines of test stitching on a fabric swatch to find your best settings, which is basically good practice for any sewing project. (When you DO find your correct settings, write them down in a little notebook and keep it handy for future reference!) Most people recommend using a zig zag stitch to sew knits rather than a straight stitch because a straight stitch can cause the fabric to stretch and the thread to break. Set your zig zag stitch length to 3 and the width to 1.5. Reduce the presser foot pressure (I put mine on 4). The presser foot holds the fabric in place as the machine makes the stitch. If you notice skipped stitches, increase the presser foot pressure. If your fabric is stretching as it moves through, reduce the pressure. Set your thread tension to medium.
In this photo, the tension has been set too tight on the machine and is stretching and pulling the fabric as it is sewn.
Here, the presser foot pressure is too low and is resulting in skipped stitches, so you’ll need to increase the presser foot pressure.
With a few simple adjustments, you’re ready to start sewing your project. As with all sewing projects, ironing your work is essential. Be sure to set your iron to a low heat for pressing this Performance Knit.
Since the knit does not fray, there’s no need to finish your seam allowances though I do trim mine carefully to reduce bulk. And really, that’s all there is to it. Whether you’re experienced with knits or an absolute beginner, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the new Performance Knit by Spoonflower. And I haven’t even mentioned how soft it feels, how beautifully it drapes and how amazing it feels to wear!
About Our Guest BloggerHi! I'm Emma, and as well as working on the Fiskars Design Team, I blog over at hellobeautifulblog.blogspot.com/
I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.