How to Choose the Perfect Knit Fabric for Your Handmade Garment

MAY 11, 2020 updated Jun 5, 2021

One of the most common questions we get from the garment sewing community about Spoonflower fabric is: “Which knit is right for me?” With five different options ranging from organic cotton to Lycra®, and two-way stretch to four-way stretch, there’s something for every project. But where to start? Our handmade garment gal Meg of MEGMADE Sewing is here to help answer that question!

Meg: Hello, everyone! I’m so delighted to be back on the Spoonflower blog talking all about knit fabrics and how to use them for adult apparel. Spoonflower has long been a source for whimsical, novelty or eccentric prints that make for fun children’s apparel and creative craft projects. But what about using them in your own “grown-up” wardrobe?

Spoonflower Knit Fabrics at a Glance

To show you just what Spoonflower knits can do I’ve sewn five pieces in their five knit fabric. I’ve also included pattern suggestions for each fabric, plus five tips for effortlessly wearing the kinds of prints and patterns available from designers in the Spoonflower Marketplace. Let’s dive in!

Looking for technical tips for sewing with knits?
Don’t miss these seven tips!

Modern Jersey

Helen Dress by Do It Better Yourself
Sage Freehand Hearts by erin_kendal

Modern Jersey is a great place to start for custom printed apparel fabric. It has a nice stretch and recovery, flowy drape, and suits a wide variety of garments like dresses, tees, and loungewear. It has a cool feel and will remind you of a rayon knit or other ready-to-wear knit tops.

What to Make with It: Try the Eilidh Twist Dress by Pipe Dream Patterns, the Allison Skirt by Style Arc, this perfect summer tank top from Spoonflower or the Adrienne Blouse by Friday Pattern Co.

Prints to Pair with Modern Jersey: Choose a minimal or small scale pattern with a sophisticated color palette. If you’re used to solid colors, this will feel more familiar, as opposed to a more obvious novelty print.

Featured Designs

Cotton Spandex Jersey

Lucy Jumpsuit by Seamwork with a Helen Dress bodice
Insect Garden Retro by juliaschumacher

If you’re new to sewing with knits, Cotton Spandex Jersey is an awesome fabric to learn with. Like the Modern Jersey, it has excellent stretch and recovery—so it won’t stretch out while you’re working with it—but is less slinky and much easier to handle. Cotton Spandex Jersey is a popular fabric for children’s apparel but it’s also a great option for adult clothing too.

What to Make with It: Use Cotton Spandex Jersey to make a Geodesic Top by Blueprints for Sewing (this pattern would also be a really cool way to utilize Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard® option!), the Panama Tee Dress by Alina Design Co., or the Alexandria Track Shorts by Named Clothing.

Bonus DIY: See how to make a fabric scrap necklace with Cotton Spandex Jersey.

Prints to Pair with Cotton Spandex Jersey: Look for black and white or muted designs to subdue a more whimsical motif. The neutral colors will tame everything from insects to funghi!

Featured Designs

Organic Cotton Knit

Featured pattern: Lola Cardigan by Schnittchen Patterns
Featured design: Shibori Geometric by sveta_aho

Organic Cotton Knit is a medium weight interlock knit perfect for garments with a tad more structure. It’s still soft and cozy which means it’s a great choice for sweatshirts, cardigans and joggers.

What to Make with It: Organic Cotton Knit would make a beautiful Coco Dress by Tilly and the Buttons, the Lulu Cardigan by Pattern Scout or the Southbank Sweater by Nina Lee.

Bonus DIY: Cozy up to a DIY robe—no pattern required.

Prints to Pair with Organic Cotton Knit: It’s no secret that Spoonflower designers love novelty prints, but there are also lots of traditional designs available as well. Try searching for classic prints like stripes, plaids, polkadots or even houndstooth.

Featured Designs

Sport Lycra

Featured pattern: Cottesloe Swimsuit by Megan Nielsen
Featured design: Mermaid Squad by melanie_hodge

Sport Lycra is a wonderful fabric with stretch and moisture-wicking properties for truly functional performance wear. The printing process holds up against swimming pools and salt water making it great for swimsuits, but it can also be used for athletic leggings, cycling tops, and even accessories like tech armbands and headbands.

What to Make with It: Any performance-type garment like the Avery Leggings by Helen’s Closet, the Violet Swimsuit by Laela Jeyne, or the Valerie Rashguard by Jalie, will work with Sport Lycra.

Bonus DIY: Don’t miss the ins and outs of sewing swimsuits.

Prints to Pair with Sport Lycra: This is the time to embrace novelty prints! Show off your favorite hobby, pet, or summer pastime with a custom printed swimsuit or workout wardrobe. Doing a search for pop culture trends like unicorns, sushi and rainbows will also point you in the direction of joyful and funky prints.

Featured Designs

Performance Piqué

Featured pattern: Elevate Overlay by Greenstyle Creations
Featured design: Panther Print by littlesmilemakers

Another activewear option, Performance Piqué has a soil-release finish and lightweight drape for making breezy apparel. Of course it’s a perfect match for things like tennis dresses and golf polos, but it’s also a suitable option for non-athletic clothing. It has a cool feel and is so comfortable to wear.

What to Make with It: Try some less form-fitting activewear using patterns like the Brooke Polo by Sinclair Patterns, the Kinetic Tee by Fehr Trade, or the Santa Fe Top by Hey June Patterns.

Bonus DIY: Find out why every DIY wardrobe needs this Performance Piqué bodysuit.

Prints to Pair with Performance Piqué: Try a more conventional pattern in an unconventional color palette. If you like animal prints, maybe swap out the brown and black color scheme for your own favorite colors—I’m all about pinks and purples!

Featured Designs

I hope these tips and pattern ideas got some creative juices flowing! No matter what you decide to make with Spoonflower prints, just remember: pick what you like—whether your favorite thing to wear is a garden gnome print or a classic stripe, find designs you like and wear them confidently. If you sew up some knitwear with Spoonflower, I’d be so happy to see your makes—just tag them with #spoonflower and #megmadesewing!


Still need a little more help? A Spoonflower sample pack is the perfect place to start.


About the Guest Author

Meg is the maker & mama behind MEGMADE Sewing. Having been sewing since childhood, Meg now creates handmades as a way to stay connected to who she is while knee-deep in motherhood. Never in one place for too long, she and her family of five currently call the Washington DC area home. For more of her latest makes (and love of pink!) follow Meg on Instagram

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