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:
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org