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        How To Sew Knit Fabric - For Beginners - Part 4

        Welcome to the last of our series on sewing knit fabrics on your standard sewing machine.  We hope you have enjoyed some of the tips and techniques.  So, far we have discussed fabrics, patterns, cutting, tools and some best practices. Today we'll be focusing on sleeves and hems. 

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        How To Sew Knit Fabric - For Beginners - Part 3

        How To Sew Knit Fabric with a Standard Machine

        20 Tips For The Beginner Sewist


        Our last post discussed techniques, tools, and practices to help you sew knit fabrics. We're moving along in our series discussing additional tools and techniques to help you along.

        Today's blog post is part three in a series of four, to help you sew knit fabrics on a standard sewing machine. Ready!  Let's go!


        Part 3: Sewing Knit Fabric: More Tools and Practices for Successful Sewing


        Have you been practicing various zigzag stitches on your knit fabric? If you have been using a regular foot on your machine and haven't changed your tension settings this may have been a bit of a challenge. But, if you attached your walking foot on your machine, you're ahead of the game! And, for my first tip this week:

        1. Invest in a walking foot for your sewing machine. It is well worth it. It will help prevent the knit fabric from stretching and distorting while you sew, and it will help you sew textured fabrics more easily as well. 

          Since we are using a zigzag stitch for our seams, you will want to avoid using the straight stitch plate with the small needle hole on your machine. Use the stitching plate suited for the zigzag stitch...it has a wider hole to allow for the needle shifting back and forth. (See your machine manual for details).


        1. Slinky knits have a habit of getting caught and bunching up in the machine when you start sewing. Placing a scrap of fabric before you start sewing along the seam allowance can help. Start your stitching on the scrap and continue feeding right to the garment seam line. Just cut off the scrap piece when you are done.

          Many sewists find it helpful to use paper placed under the fabric. I believe Kenneth D. King* uses adding-machine paper, I use gift wrap tissue that I can purchase in large quantities. When done sewing up the seam, tear away the paper. Any pieces left in the seam will come out in the wash, no need to fret. This technique will also prevent tunneling too! (I have more about that in the last post of this series). 

          * www.kennethdking.com/about

        2. Knits are great because they stretch.  But we don’t always want to take advantage of that stretch in the shoulder area so, it’s a good idea to stabilize this seam to prevent stretching. A couple of notions that can help here are clear stretch elastic or, knit stay tape. Try each and see which one works best for your fabric.

          My preference is Knit Stay Tape from the Emma Seabrooke website: www.emmaseabrooke.com/product/more-than-extremely-fine-ssi-knit-stay-tape-1-2-inch/   

          This tape maintains the drape of the fabric without adding weight. You can also use their fusible stay tape.  To apply, line up the raw edges of your fashion fabric and place the tape on either the front or back shoulder seam and center it on the stitching line, then sew the shoulder seam together.

          If you chose the fusible option, fuse one strip of tape to either the front or back pattern piece at the shoulder seam, and center over the seam line and fuse in place with your iron. Next, line up the raw edges for your pattern pieces at the shoulder (right sides together) and sew the seam.  (Keep in mind you are placing the stay tape on the wrong side of the fabric).

        3. Are you in the habit of holding your fabric taut while sewing?  When sewing knits be careful not pull or stretch your fabric while sewing. You want it to lay flat. And remember, just allowing your fabric to lay off the sewing table can cause it to stretch. It can be helpful to fan fold your fabric when working with longer lengths.  For heavier knits, you can extend the surface area at the machine by placing a tailor’s ham in front of the machine and allow the fabric to lay on it while sewing.  If the ham isn’t allowing the fabric to move smoothly enough, you can wrap it in a silky fabric and your garment fabric should slide smoothly over it.

        4. Use just a few anchoring pins to match seams and other pivotal matching points and use your fingers as pins to gently hold your fabric in place while sewing. This technique sews up more accurately and quickly. Have you seen Janet Pray of Islander Sewing demonstrate this technique on the Craftsy* platform? It’s quite liberating!



        I can't believe we've only one post left in this series.  We hope our tips are helping you along in sewing up some of your gorgeous knit fabrics. And don't forget, we have a lovely collection of designer knit fabric be sure to check it out!

        Keep your eye out for our last post in this series: 

        Part 4: Sewing Knit Fabric- Sleeves, Hems and More!




        If you ever have a question about one of our fabrics we will be more than happy to help!  Just shoot us an email: contact@fancyfrocksfabrics.com 


        How To Sew Knit Fabric - For Beginners - Part One

        Sophisticated, chic, elegant, knit fabrics are not only comfortable, but todays knit fabrics are stunning. Have you fallen in love with this fabric but just haven’t been brave enough to try it out? Don’t let the stretch of the fabric steal your confidence. With a bit of practice and a few techniques you will be conquering this fabric in no time.

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        How To Become a Better Sewist? Combine Quilting and Couture Techniques!

        How Combining Two Different Sewing Worlds Can Perfect Joining Intersecting Seams


        You may wonder what in the world quilt making techniques and couture sewing techniques have in common. While they may differ, both require precision and, in the end, present creations of pure artistry. 

        A common problem both communities of sewists face, and have mastered, is getting seams to align properly. If you’re a perfectionist like me you probably hate it when you are off, especially after you thought you nailed it.

        When working with joining a bodice to skirt or inserting an armhole, it can be a bit tricky to match those seams, but it’s not an impossible challenge. To avoid pulling out the dreaded seam ripper, I have found some useful tips that have really made a difference in nailing seam alignment every time. Follow the combination of techniques below to meet the challenge.

        • First, use a quilting technique to join seams. When joining two pieces together, first, finger press the seam allowances on both fabric pieces in opposite directions. You do not have to finger press the entire seam allowance. Since you want the seams to align together right at the stitching lines, you will not be leaving the seam allowances flat and open as usual at this intersecting point.
        • Next, put wrong sides of the fabric together as you normally would. Be sure you are aligning the pieces at the stitching line, as it is the stitching lines you are snuggling up to each other. You can even feel each piece abut against the other with your fingers. This is how quilters nail it every time!   In the photos, you can see how the seam allowance is folded over on opposing sides.  This technique helps create the aligned seam!



        • Pin the pieces together on the stitching line, not above it, not below it. This is a great practice, and by doing so you can visually check and see if you nailed seam alignment before you start to sew. It’s better to insert the pin at an angle to prevent slippage, just be sure you insert the pin right on the sewing line where the seam allowances meet first. Then, place a few pins on each side of the adjoining seams to prevent slippage.
        • Basting is your friend! A couture technique I learned is to always baste right on the stitching line, which is especially helpful when joining intersecting seams. This technique provides more accuracy. Do not baste 1/8 of an inch away from the stitch line as you may have been taught, it’s just not as accurate. You will also have more control and better alignment if you baste by hand. It's quicker too, since you will be able to see exactly where you are stitching to ensure proper alignment. And it’s always a benefit to do anything we can to avoid that seam ripper!
        • Another couture technique that ensures accuracy is to start sewing your pieces together right on your basting stitch. Yikes right! Weren’t you always told not to sew over your basting stitches? Well couture sewists do it and so can you. Be sure to start your sewing at least an inch from where the seams will join as this will also help with alignment. Finally, pull out those basting stitches.

        Voila, perfectly matching seams! I hope these techniques help you match those seams and avoid the seam ripper. I’d love to hear how it works for you.


        P.S. If couture sewing is an interest be sure to check out Susan Khalje’s website:  www.susankhalje.com  for couture patterns, classes and sewing club. Her website and sewing club is a favorite of mine.


        Until next time, sew something fancy!