A Big List of Tips for Sewing Knits!

Hey, everyone! Happy Monday! I’ve been asked for tips on sewing knit fabrics, to help with sewing up the Renfrew Top pattern. So I’ve compiled a whole bunch of links, tutorials and tips that might help you!

Tips for Sewing Knits:

Conquering Knits: A Self-Help Guide Lauren from Lladybird’s no-nonsense guide to sewing with knit fabrics, stabilizing shoulders, and why knits are so great to work with.

How I hem knits. Also a side trip to sergerland. Patty at The Snug Bug talks about using a twin needle, getting comfortable with your serger and how to hem knits.

Dixie DIY has a whole series called Never Fear Knits – check out the whole list of posts here:

Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing featured a guest post series on sewing with knits:

and this post on sewing with double knits: Field Notes on Sewing with Double Knits

A Primer on Sewing Knits from Threads Magazine, covering fabric, edge finishes, and choosing the right pattern.

Sewing with knits from Figgy’s Patterns includes how to stabilize knit fabric, sewing seams and sewing neckbands in knit fabric.

 

That should be a good start! Like anything, practice will help you get familiar with the nature of knit fabrics. Make samples, try sewing different seams and play around with the fabric. Knit fabrics are unique and each one will behave differently, that’s half the fun and half the challenge of it all! If you find a knit fabric you like and enjoy working with, buy it again in multiple colours. (That’s what I do when I find a fabric I really enjoy.)

 

Do you have a favourite ‘sewing with knits’ tutorial, book, or blog post that’s not mentioned above? Have you written about sewing with knits on your blog? Any tips to share on getting started with knit fabrics? Leave us a comment below!

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49 Responses to A Big List of Tips for Sewing Knits!

  1. Rachel April 2, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    I think the best advice for sewing with knits (along with practice) is using good quality knits. I tried to make a renfrew with a cheap knit I found and it didn’t turn out well. Once I purchased a better quality knit I had a much better result.

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      An excellent point. Better quality knits will be easier to sew with, and last longer too!

  2. Karen April 2, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Rae published a series of “Knit-erviews” with helpful strategies for knit selection, sewing, and finishing:

    http://www.made-by-rae.com/knits/

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks for the link!

  3. Suzanne April 2, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Great idea to compile a comprehensive list. I love sewing with knits My No. 1 tip is always read, read, read your serger manual! You’ll be able to diagnose and solve most problems that way, and after a little practice, there’s no need to be afraid of your serger.

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Good point, and it applies to sewing machines as well! Every now and then I stumble across my owner’s manual and find some useful tip I’ve forgotten about.

  4. Funnygrrl April 2, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    I agree with Rachel’s comment about sewing with quality knits. I almost wear my knit garments more because they are comfortable but the cheaper knits are pilling and look worn much faster. I’m going to invest in the good stuff!
    I would like to read up on stabilizing knits…

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Good point! Knits are great and fast to sew, but it’s still important to choose quality fabrics that can withstand wear. We tend to expect more out of our tee shirts, I think, we’ll handle blouses more carefully but are hard on tee shirts and jeans.

  5. Michelle @ Little Peanut April 2, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Made By Rae just did a nice series on knits: http://www.made-by-rae.com/knits/. Thanks for all the great links, Tasia!

  6. Rebecca April 2, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    There are so many different types of knits, I’m not sure where to start! Would a cotton jersey work well for this shirt?

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

      Cotton jersey would work! The trick is to pick a fabric that’s more stable. Thicker knits tend to be more stable than thinner, drapey knits.
      I have some 95% cotton 5% spandex cotton jersey that feels perfect! A little bit of spandex is good too and works well for this pattern.
      Hope this helps!

  7. puu April 2, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    great post for those of us still itching to make our renfrews but nervous about knits :-) i cut my first renfrew this weekend and it’s already love for me.

  8. Valerie April 2, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Sew U Home Stretch is a great book by Wendy Mullin. Very comprehensive…and teaches design principles too! Includes several patterns. Her T-shirt pattern is great (I’ve used it several times) and she shows you how to customize it. She includes instructions for sewing knits on a sewing machine, overlock/serger, and coverstitch machine, which is probably the biggest advantage to this book…it’s like a choose your own adventure for knit fabric sewing!

  9. Sassy T April 2, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Great post. Am hoping to experience knits in the future.

  10. Amy April 2, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Thank you for all the resources. They’re all going in my bookmarks. :)

  11. Jodi Bonjour April 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    I could use some more explanation about what exactly you mean by “stable knit”. Do you mean an interlock? Or just not a Rayon Spandex blend?

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Hi Jodi! By stable knits, I mean, ones that are going to keep their shape. Not the super stretchiest of stretchy knits. I know it’s a bit confusing! Any knit fabric will work for the Renfrew top, but ones that are more stable will work better. Double knits, cotton-spandex jersey, cotton pique (like a polo shirt) – fabrics like that will be better than slinky, drapey knits. The worst choice (or the most difficult to get a good result with) would be thin, slinky, polyester knit, the types that are usually done in a print.

      The reason is that the bands hold up better in a stable knit. Stretch the fabric and see how it behaves. Does it stay stretched out? That isn’t going to work well. Thicker is better, less stretchy is better.

      I wish I could explain this better in words! I am gesturing with my hands over here but that won’t help you :)

      Hope this helps!

  12. Dana April 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi Tasia. I have made a few Renfrews and had good results (well I am happy with them anyway). My only difficulty was attaching the “V” to the “V” neck. I have got it now but I wonder if any other beginners had similar problems (or was it just me?)

    It is a great pattern, I plan to make the Cowl neck version next for Winter (am in Australia).

    • Tasia April 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi Dana! I’m glad you enjoyed making the Renfrew top, that’s great! A couple of people did mention the V was the trickiest version to sew. Some people referenced the Crescent Skirt sew-along post that illustrates sewing the V of the skirt as it’s sort of like sewing the neckline.
      http://sewaholic.net/crescent-sew-along-18-sewing-the-waistband-and-skirt/
      It’s one of those things that is easy once you get it, but can be hard to wrap your head around beforehand!

  13. Miss Crayola Creepy April 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I made my first Renfrew last night! Thanks for making such an awesome pattern!
    http://misscrayolacreepy.blogspot.com/2012/04/renfrew.html

  14. Alicia April 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Thanks for this roundup! I’ve made three Renfrews so far, with the help of Lladybird’s and Patty’s knit posts. Can’t wait to read these others.

  15. Nothy Lane April 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    First of all, I love this blog! I’ve learned so much from it and I’m so happy with the patterns I’ve bought. I will definitely buy the rest of them soon! I love Dixie DIY ‘s Never Fear Knits and her Ballet dress pattern too. I have always avoided knits – if not feared them exactly – but I’ve come around. I spent quite a bit of time experimenting I posted two parts on knits on my blog:

    http://aftagley.blogspot.ca/2012/03/sewing-with-knits-part-1.html

    http://aftagley.blogspot.ca/2012/03/sewing-with-knits-part-2.html

    • Tasia April 3, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      Thanks for sharing your links! Experimentation is great and often the best way to learn how to work with different fabrics. I learn better when I’ve done my own version of trial and error!
      I’ve always avoided knits not out of fear but because I couldn’t get them finished like factory-sewn garments. (Which is why I’ve made the Renfrew easy to sew with those banded hems – no need to worry about making nice, stretchy hems that don’t ripple!)

    • susan April 3, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      I found the second post with all the pictures really informative. I don’t have a serger and it’s nice to know that you can sew knits on a regular sewing machine.

  16. Seraina April 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Thanks for all the tips…
    I just finished by first Renfrew last weekend and loved the pattern… my first knit project ever…but unfortunately I popped a seam when putting it on this morning, one of the shoulder seams…
    I was using a normal sewing machine with a setting of stitchlength: 3, stitchwidth: 1.5
    After reading some of the links above, i thing i should have used this the other way around, as in stitchlength: 1.5 and stitchwidth: 3 to allow for more stretch…

    I will mend it tonight and hope the other seams will hold up…
    I don’t have a serger and really hope this will work out as i would love to make some more knit tops…

    • Tasia April 3, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Seraina! For the shoulder seam, I would suggest reinforcing it with twill tape, stay tape, or selvages. The shoulders are often stretched and strained when you’re putting the shirt on and off. It’s normal to have that kind of stress on the seams! But, I prefer if my shoulder seams don’t stretch at all, but instead are strengthened by tape. You could also use clear elastic if you can get your hands on some! (You’ll see that in ready-to-wear tee shirts a lot, a thin strip of clear elastic..)

      Hope this helps!
      Tasia

      • Seraina April 3, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

        Hi Tasia,

        Thanks for you answer and tips….

        i have actually used twill tape on the shoulder seam.
        The one that broke was the seam where the sleeve is attached to the back piece.

        I have fixed it now and will see how that holds up with the wider and shorter zig-zag stitch…

        The fabric i used is probably also a bit more stretchy than suggested but it is very hard to get good quality stable knit fabric around here…

        Have a good Easter weekend
        Seraina

  17. Becky April 3, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    Thank you for the roundup! I love working with knits, personally– I’ll love it even more when I can get my serger’s tension issues sorted out!

    p.s. is it ok if I put this on my sewing Pinterest board so I can easily find it for reference later?

    • Tasia April 3, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Of course you can! Pin away!

  18. maddie flanigan April 3, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    Such a comprehensive list! Thank you! I’ll have to check them out.
    Happy Tuesday!

    • Tasia April 3, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Well happy Tuesday to you too! It’s nice to have lots of different links to check out, instead of one source. Different people will have different experiences to share!

  19. Katja April 5, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Hi there

    What I found useful was this video tutorial series of Patty Young.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9-NHXbF0Fo
    She shows you a variety of ways to hem knits, covering also (if I remember correctyl) about 2 ways using a normal sewing machine, not a serger or coverlock. I tried out the twin needle technique and was absolutely thrilled, that it actually worked, and wasn’t difficult at all!
    Thanks for the list of links, I’ll certainly have a close look at those, before sewing up the renfrew top.
    Cheers, Katja

  20. Shelly April 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Thanks Gal! Love this!!

  21. Becky August 13, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I just finished my first Renfrew top and I LOVE it! I used the cowl neck, short sleeves version and it was my first experience with knit fabrics. All in all, went very well with only one glaring error at the left shoulder seam – but this was because I didn’t know how to use twill tape :( I do now. Fortunately, the cowl neck style is very forgiving (as in, it hides all neckline mess-ups) so it was a good one for me to start with. I did have some confusion when constructing the cowl neck where in one spot it says to sew with right sides together, but I swear it should be wrong sides together (sorry, I don’t have the pattern in front of me). Anyway, I went with my gut and it appears to have worked out. Thanks for the tutorials. Now that I’ve found this, I’m ready to make a second!

  22. jessica w September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Thanks for the Renfrew pattern! I love my first version, and I cannot wait to make more versions of this pattern! http://warfieldfamily.com/2012/09/my-renfrew-top/

  23. Mable Burt December 19, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I love this particular fabric on here (navy blue and white). I am new to sewing, where do I buy fabric like that?

  24. Elena Knits May 16, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    There’s a nice class at Craftsy about sewing with knits:

    http://www.craftsy.com/class/sewing-with-knits/114?_ct=fhevybu-sbqiimeha-junj-sedjydku&_ctp=114

  25. Krista Cox August 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Thank you! I have just shared and credited your tips on my Facebook for http://www.fairytalefrocksandlollipops.com — we are an online e-pattern boutique – This info is very useful to some of our sewing friends with that fear of knits! Thank you – pop by and say hi —- we would LOVE to hear from you as well! Keep up the fun work – and happy sewing!

    Smiles,
    Krista C.

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