Sewing with knits. Knits can be scary to sew with. They stretch, curl, and can wiggle around much more than a woven fabric. But they are oh so comfy to wear. Once you jump in to sewing with knits, get a feel for it, and become aquatinted with different knits, it really won’t seem that scary! Lets learn about the different types of knits in this post.
Common types of Knit:
Jersey Knit: This knit is not the stretchiest of knits, which is great for beginners. It usually has a wrong and right side. The wrong side of printed jersey knit will be faded or lighter like normal woven. The wrong side on a solid jersey knit will typically have slight ribs to it while the front will be smooth. The raw edge will typically roll or curl, but the raw edges won’t fray like woven. It can be made from wool or cotton. It can also be made with fabrics like spandex or lycra which will add more stretch. Jersey knit is typically the “standard T shirt fabric.”
Interlock: Interlock knit is most often made from cotton. It is pretty much two single jersey knits, knit together to make one stronger, again a little less stretchy, piece of fabric. It may look the same on both sides, and typically doesn’t curl. It is a probably even better than jersey knit for starters, due to the added stability from the double layers, making it more stable to work with.
French Terry: Smooth on one side with loops on the back. This type is more like a towel. It has less stretch.
Sweatshirt Knit: This knit is smooth on the front and fuzzy on the back, just like a sweatshirt! This type usually has less stretch also.
Ponte De Roma: Very similar to a interlock knit, and again great for beginners!
Rib Knit: This type of knit has ribs in the fabric on both front and back. It is a very stretchy fabric and has awesome stretch recovery. It is commonly used for neck bands. This type of knit doesn’t curl and looks good on both sides!
Cotton: Cotton is not very stretchy, so it is typically blended with one or more other types of fabric like spandex or rayon to add stretch. Cotton is breathable and soft making it super comfy!
Spandex: This is highly stretchy with an awesome stretch recovery.
Rayon: This type tends to look and feel like silk. This fabric is slippery and smooth. It has very low stretch recovery.
Polyester: This can also mimic silk. It is soft and shiny, and resists wrinkles well!
Stretch and Stretch Recovery
This is very important when sewing with knits. When I made a dress for myself, to make the top I went off of a tank that fit me well. After I was all done with the dress I tried it on, a little tight! Why? Because the tank I used as a guide was far more stretchy than the fabric I used to make the dress. Thus the reason it is so important to know the stretch of your knits. If you are using a pattern, it will tell you what percentage of stretch you will need in the knit fabric. There is a way to actually test the stretch and I will share the source at the end of the blog post. But honestly I am pretty simple when it comes to sewing. I don’t love taking extra steps, even if they don’t take long. I buy a lot of my fabric online, and in the description, it will most always tell you how much stretch the fabric has. I love buying knits at Girl Charlee. There is always a great detailed description and it lists the stretch percent.
I haven’t observed if the end of the bolt has stretch percentages when buying in a store. I usually just stretch it and make a judgement call without trying to figure out exactly what the stretch is. Once you work with knits a lot, you will get more comfortable with different feels of knits.
Sometimes there is equal amount of stretch vertical and horizontal, sometimes there is more one way, less the other. When constructing your garments you always want to have the largest amount of stretch run horizontal or across your body.
Stretch recovery is important also. Stretch recovery is when the fabric bounces back to it’s original length. This is important because if you have a fabric that stays stretched out, say in the neckline, after you pull it over your head it will stay all stretched and floppy looking. Good stretch recovery is an important element in making beautiful finished knit projects!
If you want a more detailed guide on stretch and stretch recovery, swing on over to shwin and shwin’s post on knits!
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