How to Sew Knit Fabrics: Sewing With Jersey 101


Babies love wearing cozy knits! Ladies love wearing cozy knits! When we asked the Prudent Mamas, we discovered everyone is nervous about knits. We get that! Since we have a bunch of cute patterns for knit jersey dresses and such planned for you, we thought we’d start by getting everyone comfortable with sewing knits. Let’s start with a little primer, including what equipment you need (or don’t need), the different stitches, and some basic tips to help you get on your way to Cozytown.

From the feedback on our facebook page and twitter, we see that the Prudent Mamas have concerns about stretched out seams, popping threads, and slippage while sewing. The overall conclusion was that knits are scary. No! Knits are just stretchy. Let’s take the mystery out of sewing these stretchy beasts.

Then you can make these cute dresses I share a pattern and tutorial for here: Beginner’s Jersey Baby Dress!

Learn the basics of how to sew with knit jersey fabrics after the jump…

How to Sew Knit Fabrics: Sewing With Jersey 101
First we’ll talk about FABRIC, then GEAR, then STITCHING, and finally TIPS for sewing with knit jersey. Here we go…

Knit Fabric 101
There are ten trillion different knit fabrics out there. To understand the basic difference between cotton and knit, let’s look at some diagrams. Cotton is woven:

Knits are, well, knitted (with loops):

(thanks for the illustrations, threads magazine)

There’s single knits, double knits, and rib knits. Some look different on each side. Some look the same on both sides. Some stretch a lot. Some stretch a little. Some are blended with rayon or acetate or (as Scarlet calls it) “sparkle thread.” Some are thick. Some are so thin you can see through them. There are so many fun options and you can sew them all! First you need to examine your fabric. Let us do so. Which way does it stretch? Stretch on the cut edges, then from the selvedges. One way will almost always stretch more. Make a note of it and cut the pattern as directed with the more stretch facing the right way. Sleeves are usually cut width wise (most stretch), same with shirt body. Some patterns are bias cut (on the diagonal) for a lovely drape.

In these pics I’m sewing with one of my husband’s old hanes t-shirts, and with stretchy Robert Kaufman panda knit, which I absolutely adore. Don’t you just want to snuggle up in it?

So now you’ve got your fabric. What else do you need to start sewing knits?

Knit & Jersey Sewing Gear 101
There is some gear that makes sewing knits much easier, but you don’t need all of it to sew with jersey. Let’s go through it and I’ll tell you what’s not absolutely necessary and what’s a must-have.

A Cover Stitch Machine.
Hi, almost no one has one of these at home. I sure do want one though. A commercially sewn knit item usually has a hem with a double row of stitching. A coverstitch machine hems these up quick and neat in one step. But no worries, you can simulate this look with a regular sewing machine.

A Serger.
I adore my Brother 5234 PRW. If you have a serger you can thread all four needles, then sew your jersey and cut your seams at the same time. But NO, you do NOT need a serger to sew jersey.

Today we will focus on how to sew jersey with a sewing machine instead.

Here are some things that are affordable to get and will help you enormously when sewing knit jerseys.

A Twin Needle
Many machines come with a twin needle, or you can purchase one inexpensively.

If your machine can zig-zag it can usually accommodate a twin needle. The benefit of a twin needle is that it builds stretch into your seams by creating two lines of straight stitches on the top of your item with a zig zag underneath. No popped seams, no trying to precisely stretch your fabric as you sew. Let me show you really quickly how to thread a twin needle so you understand the concept. When you use a twin needle, you’ll use two spools of thread on the top. Your machine probably comes with an extra spool pin that fits on top of the bobbin holder you normally use while winding bobbins, like this:

But even if you don’t have an extra spool pin, you can jerry-rig it by placing the second spool of thread somewhere nearby (on a thread rack, in a cup) where it won’t get tangled or resist unrolling while you sew. So once you’ve set up your spools, you’ll run both threads through the machine as you normally would the one thread. You thread the needles manually, the left one with your normal spool, and the right one with the second spool. I did them in two colors so you could see (the normal spool is black, threaded through the left needle).

Then you use your zigzag foot while sewing.

Ballpoint Needles
A ballpoint needle has a slightly rounded tip that allows it to slip through the fibers of your fabric, rather than ripping them as a regular needle would. There are also stretch needles that have a deeper indentation (so the needle can create a longer thread loop before forming the stitch, decreasing the chance for a slipped stitch). I have never bothered to get stretch needles, but for a very delicate fabric I would. There are also universal needles that say they are for both woven and knit fabrics, but I have not tried them. Now, you may want to give sewing jersey a shot with a regular needle. You can try it out if you are desperate. On a stiff men’s t-shirt (like your basic Hanes or what have you), a regular needle may work. But on a stretchy or delicate knit, it’s going to create tiny tears in the fabric that will get worse as you wash and wear. So I say definitely get ballpoint needles.

Ballpoint is on the left, straight is on the right.

Walking foot
I like to sew knits with my walking foot, especially if they are very stretchy. A walking foot moves both the top and bottom layers of fabric at the same time. This makes it a lot easier to avoid stretching the fabric out too much. They run $15-20 and you’ll use it a lot once you get one (for quilting and such). You can sew jersey without a walking foot, but it will take more trial and error with each new fabric to see how much you need to guide/stretch that specific fabric to avoid stretched seams. Here is what a walking foot looks like from the front:

And from the side:

Let’s do a comparison. Here I am using my stretchy panda knit fabric. I used a ballpoint needle and stretch stitch (explanation of stretch stitch and the other stitches you can use for knits later in this post), and in this first pic I used a walking foot.

Looking good, laying flat. In this next pic I used all the same setting, but with a regular foot.

See the difference? A walking foot just makes it much easier to keep the seams from becoming stretchy and sloppy, especially with very stretchy fabrics.

Interfacing
I don’t often use interfacing when sewing with jersey, but sometimes it helps to stabilize a seam that will get stretched/pulled during use (for example a shoulder seam). You don’t want to use regular old interfacing, you want to find one for knits that is more flexible. Try to match it to your fabric’s flex as close as you can. But for beginners, don’t worry about interfacing just yet.

Stitches for Sewing with Knit Jersey Fabric
Ok, let’s talk stitching.

As we’ve mentioned, knits and jerseys have varying degrees of stretch. If you just sew them together with a regular old straight stitch, then you have stretchy fabric with a not-stretchy seam. What do you think will happen when you stretch the fabric out? That’s right, the seam will pop. Here’s a pic of my panda knit stretch jersey with a straight stitch – I pulled on the fabric, check out how not-nice it looks…

One more pull and what do you think will happen?

That’s right: It will pop right out. We don’t want that to happen to our clothes, which should be able to move with us as we gallivant around town. So we don’t want to use a straight stitch. I do want to be clear that you CAN use a straight stitch to sew knits, BUT it requires a certain skill because you have to stretch your fabric *justright* as you sew to ensure the straight stitch seam has the right amount of stretch built in. It is much easier to use one of the following stitches until you get more experienced or find your groove with knit sewing.

If you are sewing with a twin needle, you can use a straight stitch, since the twin needle straight stitch has stretch built in. Here’s what that looks like on the front (the black is the left needle, the taupe is the right needle, just so you can see the difference):

And here is the back of the twin needle straight stitch, with black thread in the bobbin:

That sure looks nice. But if you don’t have a twin needle, don’t fear.

You can sew knits with one needle, no problem. Ideally, your machine has a stretch stitch. Which one is the stretch stitch? It is the one that looks like an offset zig zag. This stitch goes forward, then back a bit, to create a seam that can stretch with your fabric. Here is a pic of the stretch stitch diagram on my machine, it’s #4. I call it the lightning bolt.

Stitch #3 is a triple stretch stitch, especially good for armholes or other areas that take a lot of abuse and may need more strength built in.

If you don’t have a stretch stitch, no fear. A narrow zig zag stitch will do the trick. Set the width and length very low (2.5/.5 is a good starting point) and test it on your fabric scraps to find the best setting to make sure it lays flat. The zig zag will allow your fabric to stretch.

Here is a pic of all three stitches on a basic heavy knit mens tee, just so you can see what they look like. The heavy mens’ t can take a lot of stitches without doing anything too funky when it’s just one layer like this, but when you start to sew two pieces together, they stretch pretty easily, just an FYI. The stitches from right to left are stretch, zig zag, straight.

Whichever stitch you choose, test it out on some scraps of your fabric and adjust the tension as necessary until your stitching lays flat. It gets fancier from here, with stretch blind hem stitches and what not, but we’ll stick to these basics for now. Ok, on to the sewing of knits…

Sewing Knit Jersey Fabric
A lot of your work with knits is going to involve some amount of trial and error, so always buy a little extra fabric and do some tests. I’ll share some tips to help you have less error as you are doing your trials.

Beware the Stretch
If you are using your walking foot and a stitch with stretch, then you want to be sure you are not stretching your fabric out as you sew. If you do you will end up with floppy seams and stretched out armholes and the like. Let’s look at an example on my stretch jersey fabric. I used my walking foot, ballpoint needle, and stretch stitch. The stitch settings are exactly the same in both rows, but on the top row I let the fabric stretch as it went through the machine, while on the bottom row I was careful not to let the fabric stretch.

See the difference? So watch out for stretching while feeding your fabric through your machine.

Let’s talk about sewing two pieces of fabric together to create a seam. This example uses cut up remnants of my husband’s old hanes t-shirt sewn with a ballpoint needle, walking foot, and stretch stitch. In this first picture, I was careful not to stretch the fabric as it went through the machine:

Looking good! In this second picture, I was not careful and the fabric stretched just a bit. Now look at my seam:

A walking foot and being careful not to stretch your fabric too much are the two best ways to avoid these gaping seams. There is more to this when it comes to finishing necklines, but I will save that for another post while we all practice a bit first.

Finishing Inside Seams
Jersey will not unravel, so you do not need to do anything to finish inside seams except cut them even. However, if you have a serger it does add nice polish to your item to serge the seams, before or after you construct the piece (I usually do it before, but that’s just personal preference). If you are sewing with a thick fabric, a seam allowance from 1/2″ to 5/8″ is fine. If you are sewing with a thin/delicate knit fabric, the edges will roll, in which case you want to sew (or cut down) to a very small allowance, because the fabric has a tendency to curl and a big curl can be uncomfortable to whomever is wearing the item.

Hemming Knits
You can hem your item the traditional way, but you only need to fold under once, since the edge of the fabric won’t unravel (this also reduces bulk at hems) and stitch in place (or just roll under and stitch if the fabric is very thin).

The only issue is that you will have a zig zag or stretch stitch hem, which doesn’t always look very awesome. This is a great time to whip out your twin needle, so you can have straight seams with stretch built in. You can also sew with a straight stitch if you think you can stretch your fabric just the right amount to have a stretchy hem that won’t break. Or if you are making a dress or skirt, where the hem is unlikely to get stretched out while it is being worn, you can risk a non-stretch straight stitch. Or you can just cut that baby, because as I said, it won’t unravel.

Serging a rolled hem is also fun if you can. Or if you are fancy, go ahead and do a stretch blind hem stitch or some such awesomeness.

From here, I am going to share some patterns and tutorials that will allow you to practice all of these skills and learn about finishing necks and armholes, so they look polished like this (it’s so not hard at all I promise):

as well as adding sleeves

gathering, and other fun things you can do with jersey.

A good starter project that you can play around with right now is Jacinda’s adorable (and super giftable) Top Knot Baby Hat, which comes in three different versions and can be made from recycled tees. It’ll give you a good sense of your machine and knits, and you’ll get the satisfaction of a completed project of adorableness.

Okay Prudent Mamas, I hope I addressed a lot of your concerns, and took some of the scare and mystery out of sewing with knits.. Let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve shared here, and I’ll add to this post or follow up with more information. I hope this helps you feel a little less intimidated by knit jersey and encourages you to cut up some old clothes and get crafty. Stay tuned for our first jersey dress project and pattern later this week!

Update: Get the pattern and tutorial here: Beginner’s Jersey Baby Dress!

Practice your jersey knit skills with projects like, The 30-Minute Pleated Dress, Racerback Dress, How to Turn Any T-Shirt into a Sundress, Striped Jersey Shorts, and How to Make a Football Jersey from a T-shirt.

by

193 Comments

Gaenor

Hi. I really liked this tutorial – took a lot of the mystery out of knits! However, I only have a vintage singer sewing machine, which doesn't do zig zag – straight stitching only in my house. Does this mean I still can't really sew with knits?

Thanks.

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Denise

No, you can still do it, but you have to be careful. What I do is stretch the fabric just a bit as the feed dogs are pulling it through– keep a bit of tension on the fabric, and enough stretch will be built into the seam. It might take some trial and error to get the right amount of stretch in it, but it is possible.

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Mrs. Butler

This is probably the single most helpful sewing post I've ever read! Very clear, simple explanations, and great examples of good and not-so-good stitches! I've been reading up on how to get started with knits, but I think you've taken all of those bits and pieces and rolled them into one (along with answering pretty much every question I had!) Knits, here I come!!

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The Desselles

SO helpful – you used my Project Runway Inovis too, so that makes it really simple! However, I also have a serger – which would you suggest? Using the Inovis just to learn, or jumping right in with the serger?

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Susan

Wow.. What a great post on sewing with knits! It is very helpful and inspiring. I have a stack of knits I've been wanting to sew, but fear has prevailed! I am excited to try out the twin needle! Thank you.

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Lisa

Thanks for this I've always worked with knits but with a LOT of trial and error! This should make things a lot easier

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Kimberly F

Amazing post, thank you! I'm excited to see the project tutorials. I am a little confused about the needles, though. Are you saying to use a ballpoint twin needle, or just one or the other? Or one for hems and the other for seams?

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Jaime

kimberly- you can use the twin needle for everything, or just for hems, whatever you find easier. i usually just use it for hems. you'll want a ballpoint twin needle or universal twin needle, which is what usually comes with your machine (if your machine came with a twin needle).

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AnnaPK

I can't wait to try your tips! I bought the Tea for Two pattern from Patterns by Figgy's. I made it once but it was a mess, and I really want to figure it out.

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Shannon

This is great….I will be sitting down to read it more carefully during some leisure time. My daughter loves knits; and I love her to wear my handiwork with enthusiam. Tips on finding the fun knit prints I can track down by the bolt. Seems like tearing up old tees is the only way to get cool designs.

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Erin

Thanks for all the great info! I have a knit dress that I have been needing redo some seams on and I think I will be brave enough to try it out.

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Kat @ KaydeeBunz

Just wanted to say thanks for posting this!! I really love sewing with knits (and use my serger alot) but Im curious about that little twin needle now, so Ill have to check her out!!
Thank you 🙂

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Jessie

Thanks so much! I'm excited for some patterns to practice with! I have a pretty simple sewing machine with no "stretch" stitch, but I do have a serger. Will you be doing a follow up extra tutorial about stitching on knits with a serger, or is there no real secrets there?

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Candice

has to be the single most comprehensive tutorial for sewing knits! Thank you so much! I have never used a walking foot, but now I really want one…I always just do the "careful not to stretch it" thing.
I plan on posting a link to this on my blog.

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Leigh Anne

Super great post! Thanks for all the tips. I learned so much. Have just been using my serger, but the twin needle trick sounds like a winner for a pretty finish 🙂

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Jess

Thanks so, so much!!! I'm so excited! I have lots of fabric I was too scared to work with! I'll be emptying my storage drawers soon 😀

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LittleSewandSo

Gosh, I learned SO much!! Thank you! I work at a fabric store and now I feel like I can really help people when they ask me questions about sewing on knits. Knits are going to be really big, too. All of the major pattern books are featuring patterns made specifically for knits!

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Lauren K.

Awesome! I have a serger, but have not got around to using it yet. Is there a site out there that shows how to sew knits with a serger? Or could you all do an awesome post on that? 🙂 thanks!

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ElleB

I love your site. I learn and am inspired every time I visit. This is a wonderful tutorial. I wish I'd had something like this when I first started noodling w knits. I would like to add that you should let your knits hang for 24 hrs before marking your hem and finishing. I know it's a serious speed bump. Especially, when you're on a roll and soooo close to done, but it really is worth it. Also, try not to let your knit hang off your work surface when laying out patterns and cutting. It will stretch. It will be inaccurate. You will be miffed. Ladies, Thanks again for all your ideas and inspiration.

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ToniG

Wow, what a fantastic tutorial and just in time. I've just received my first brown box of knits and have been contemplating it with trepidation. You really are my angel of mercy right now! LOL

Thank you.

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sewocd

serger #2 is coming today, I sure hope this one works out, as I, too, LOVE LOVE knit fabrics. I am happily bookmarking this page so I have it to refer to while I try your 2-needle idea on the sewing machine. Being a knit lover, what thread do you think it best with your serger? I would love your advice/opinion on the ideal knit serger thread ;o)

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DIY tshirt dress « Loosygoosey's Blog

[…] Hold the shirt up to your child’s body and determine where the bottom of the armhole should be. Sew a line from that spot to the original side seam (use matching thread, I used a dark color so you could see). You want to make sure you don’t make a sharp point at the new armhole, gradually blend the angle into the original side seam. If you are using a really big t-shirt, like maybe dad’s old college tee or something, you can sew from the new arm opening all the way down the shirt, creating a new side seam and narrowing the dress. For tips on sewing jersey visit our post: How to Sew Knit Fabrics: Sewing with Jersey 101. […]

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Sami

omg i love you ladies soo much and your wonderful explanations! I had to buy new sewing needles, as i went through my last 2 on a splat mat project. I bought a multipack made by Singer cuz thats my machine (old one, from the 60s love!) and I had NO CLUE what the different needle types were all about. SO i grabbed one and away we go. Fortunately it was a pack with regular and ballpoint so I could sew my lovely niece a horse sundress she will LOVE without running to the store last minute. Basically everything in my life seems clearer and more understandable since discovering Prudent Baby…thank you thank you thank you and please never stop!

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Mara O

Great Post. Thank you so much for this post! Very clear explanation and very detailed, too.

Mara

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Pat

Thanks so much for this tutorial-and for the illustrations of good and bad. I am just getting back into sewing and have several knits to make up. I tried one, and was running into problems you addressed. I will definitely be using the walking foot on my next attempt. Again, your post is very comprehensive and I learned substantially from it.

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Lori

I am not having trouble SEWING the knits, I am having trouble keeping it from rolling in where I cut it. I cut two inch strips and am trying to make ruffles out of it by sewing a basting hem down the middle and pulling the bobbin thread to make it ruffle. It is SOOOOOO curled on both sides of the 2 inch strip it looks like a shoelace. I don’t know what to do! Everyone keeps telling me to use stitch witchery or stabilizer but it will show on the ruffle if I do that…..someone PLEASE HELP ME! My email is thepaisleyturtle at gmail dot com
SOmeone else suggested starch and ironing and I will try that…but wow – I saw a tutorial on this, I know how to sew it it cannot be THAT HARD!!!

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Sukie

Thankyou! I wish I’d found this last night before hemming my sons jersey pyjamas (holed long ones made into shorts!) 8 yr old boys don’t like frilly hems!
I’m going to try again now.
Thanks

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Sew What? « ninasquared

[…] Last, but not least, some great tutorials/informative websites to go off of: Elle Apparel and Prudent Baby (and yes, we are definitely ignoring the fact that Leanne from Elle Apparel made this tutorial for […]

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Brenda

I’ve sewn many things over the years but mostly using cotton material, normal foot and thread so I’ve been playing safe. Recently I’ve started making dolls clothes and I’m using Jersey. I’ve had so many questions in my head about how I could make things easier for myself as I wasn’t a hundred percent happy with the results. You’ve answered all my questions on this page so I just had to write and say thank you very, very much for sharing. I actually have a walking foot that I’ve never used and I will be buying the ball pointed twin needles today.
Well done.

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Katie

Thank you SO much for this post. I really want to sew myself a wrap dress for Christmas so I can incorporate some of the fabrics I’m using in my daughter’s Christmas dress so we can coordinate, and I’m terrified of knits. This really took the mystery out of everything and gave me the confidence to give it a shot! One of my very skilled friends was like, “Oh knits? Just use your stretch stitch and walking foot.” And I was like, “Wah?” And now I know exactly what she was talking about! 🙂

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Carola

Love your tutorial coz today I discovered that I needed help!! Quick question: can you use a twin needle with your walking foot?? I tried to hem my t-shirt with the twin needle using a regular foot but it seemed to stretch and go wavy. 🙁 I am hoping that I can redo it with walking foot (that I’ve never used before!! Yikes!)

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Modernlivingroomfuniture.Net

Hi! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for
this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with
hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

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Shauna

Thanks so much! My 5 mo old son keeps getting longer (but not wider) – he is growing out of his 9-12 month onesies faster than we can buy them. I decided to turn these onesies into long shirts for him so that we can get another month or so out of them. Now I know how! Great and clear tutorial.

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Kami

Thank you for this awesome information! I’m trying to psych myself up to begin my first knit project, and this post was immensely helpful!

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Kristen

Your blog is ah-mazing for a beginner sewer like myself. Thanks for all of the tutorials and clear 101 instructions. I feel way more comfortable trying out some great projects!

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Kathy

I did a quick search to find help sewing knit fabrics and this short tutorial covered all the basics, concisely. The photos and clear instructions are just great! Thank you so much for sharing. I feel confident to give knits a go now.

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Van

What a thorough and helpful post. Definitely pinning this and bookmarking for future reference. Thank you so much.

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alankey

Thank you so much for this well put-together post. I have browsed around your site and you have some of the most helpful tutorials I’ve found on the net. I’m a newbie sewer and I keep hearing about how scary knits are to sew. I’m so glad I found your site to help me.

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Judith

What a superb tutorial, you seem to have covered everything. I’m off to the sewing machine with some knit fabric just as soon as I’ve pressed ‘submit’

Thank you so much.

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tolu

Thank you so much for the tips…totally helpful. I would like to buy your exact sewing machine…please what’s the name.

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Renna Hanlon

I discovered this old post of yours while googling for help in sewing knits. I am so grateful to you for having written it! My mom recently gave me a sewing/embroidery machine. I know the rudimentary basics of operating the (old, old) Singer portable she gave me years ago, but his one, though a few years old itself is so much more sophisticated than my old Singer, and came with multiple presser feet. The walking foot was included, but I had no idea what it’s purpose was. Now, thanks to you, I do! 🙂

I attempted sewing with a twin needle, attaching the 2nd thread spool to the bobbin winder shaft, but my stitches looked horrible. I do plan to try again, just to conquer it, but meanwhile, I’ve used my walking foot, per your suggestion, with great success.

I wonder if you could answer a question for me? I’m in the process of sewing some knit baby burp cloths for gifts. I will sew them up using the walking foot, but I plan on top stitching them for a finished look. I really prefer the neat appearance of a straight stitch for the top stitch. Should I use the walking foot and set the stitch to straight? Will there be enough give, or do I even need to worry about ‘giving’ on the top of a burp cloth?

Any advice you can give me will be very appreciated! 🙂

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EmmaB

Thank you so much for this tutorial/info! I’m definitely buying myself a walking foot and will be putting my new found knowledge into use tomorrow!

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Yvonne

Thanks so much for this post! It was very easy to follow and I have bookmarked your site and liked you on facebook. I also pinned the tutorial on making a sundress from an old tee. Can’t wait to try that one! I had googled sewing with knits is how I found you and am so glad that I did. Again, thanks for your help today!!

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rachel

This was SUCH an in depth post! Thank you! Just what i needed. I had been scouring the internet in search of what Settings / needles / foot attachments I was doing wrong with my Jersey granny panties I was up-cycling to a thong. I had never used jersey before only strait woven linens and felts.

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megan

Thank you! Thank you sooooo much for this. Bookmarking this for when I make my next jersey dress.

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Nicole

Thank you for the great tutorials! I haven’t used a sewing machine since high school and you make it understandable. Do you have a tutorial for the flower on the grey and pink dress?

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Katie

Thanks for this. I nearly had a meltdown tonight whilst trying to sew something on a really stretchy knit onesie. I think I may have done too much damage though… My question now is with a all the options you have provided with a reg sewing machine, will the fabric still grab or get caught on the machine teeth?

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Klynn

Thank you for such an amazing tutorial! It’s exactly what I was looking for (googled “guide to sewing really thin jersey knit”) and you have a great way of explaining things. I just got some knit fabric today to make myself a shirt, now I can get started!!

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Heidi

Great post! This will be a great help to me going forward as I have several knit fabric projects lined up, including men’s t-shirts. Thanks!

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MONTSE

Very usefull information. I’m triying to sew jersey and this tutorial is very helpfull for me.

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Samara

Hi: The link at the bottom of this post for the beginner’s baby jersey dress goes to the wrong post – it jumps to the diy crib sheet pattern… which is also wonderful, but not where I think you want to send people looking for the dress pattern. 🙂

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Kelley

I have a little Singer Pixie Plus and I have been wanting to sew with knits (I have actually tried and they get all stuck and drive me insane. I don’t know if my little machine can do twin needle does anybody know if my dilemma can be solved?

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Angie

Wowwww, thank you so much for all this great information! Today I got a little frustrated trying to sew a knit with a straight stitch, but now I know better ^_^7. The pictures are also really helpful. I’m no mama, but I got a lot out of this post! Thanks for your hard work!

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Tara

Thank you so much for all information. I love it and I will use them on my next project with knit fabric.

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Lisa

I really appreciated this post. The pictures were very helpful and I learned sooo much about sewing knit fabric as well as optimal attachments. I just had a summer dress that I wanted to shorten up, yet I was afraid of making a mistake. Now I’m glad I didn’t ruin it by digging in this project right away. Great blog. Please keep writing posts!

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Tshirt refasion tutorial (subtle high-low peplum) | clouds full of rain

[…] 7.  Now we can sew the front and back bodice pieces together.  Make sure the pretty sides of your t-shirt fabric are facing.  Pin and sew the shoulder and side seams together (dotted lines).  Working with knits can be tricky for some.  I don’t claim to have mastered it, but from reading others’ experiences it seems like different things work for different people.  I suggest doing some reading  and practicing with what you have.  What has worked for me is sewing with a stretch stitch.  It looks like a slanted zig zag stitch.  For an in depth look at sewing with knits you can check out this post from Prudent Baby. […]

Reply
Michelle

Thank you so much for this! I was feeling really intimidated after ordering my first bunch of stretchy, slippery fabric. After reading your post and getting a walking foot, ball point needles, and a twin needle, I have so far experienced no frustration and that is something to celebrate! 🙂

I mentioned this post on my blog.

Thanks again!

Michelle

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Self Drafted Maxi Skirts

[…] Knits aren’t that scary! Just make sure you are using the right needle (ballpoint for cotton jersey, “stretch” for super stretchy synthetics) and sewing with a “stretch” (zig-zag) stitch to prevent thread breakage. Many tips to had over at Made By Rae and Prudent Baby. […]

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Sarah

This was an extremely helpful post! I have struggled with Jersey in the past and am really excited to try my next projects using your tips. However, I have found one point to be way off regarding the cost of a walking foot. Your site claims that they run from $15-20, while this felt like a little splurge for a foot, I was all in and wanting to try one out. When I got to the store I was shocked to find that the foot for my machine is $45!!!!! Needless to say I had a little sticker shock in the store, plus I was disappointed because I couldn’t afford to buy it. Thankfully I was eventually able to find a generic foot online for $19 so I am going to try that.
Since your post is so helpful, it might be even more helpful if you could edit your section on the walking foot to let people know that their brand might be a lot more. Thanks again for such a great post!

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Julie

Hi,this tutorial is detailed and helpful, as noted by the commenters. However, you begin with a bit of misinformation. Cotton is a fiber, not a process for creating fabric. You are using cotton as a synonym for woven fabric as opposed to knit fabric. The cotton fiber, as well as many other fibers such as rayon, silk, wool, and polyester, can be used to weave or knit fabric. And lycra can be woven with other fibers, like cotton, etc., to produce woven fabrics with a bit of stretch, like the jeans so many of us wear! I’m hoping you can edit your post so newer sewers learn the way to identify knit vs woven fabrics-cheers!

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Adrienne

Thank You for all the wonderful advice! I’ve yet to stitch a stitch in a knit fabric (I think it’s scary) but your post has given me confidence, so, Thank You!
I had a question about needles though? What’s your opinion on using a twin ball point needle? Is it worth it? And any easier than using a single ball point needle, or more difficult?

Cheers!

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Lydia

Hi. I have found your post very useful. I have one question, in your opinion should I purchase some ballpoint needles to hold the knits whilst sewing or will normal pins suffice? Thanks.

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Jennifer

I wanted to cry, then I found this tutorial/informative post.
I think I love you!

Thank you so much…

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Trina

Such simple, clear, fantastic information. Thank you for demystifying working with knits for those casual sewers who don’t own a serger.

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Lori

Thanks so much for this post! I was intimidated by knits. Now I will try sewing them and benefiting from your info. I found you from Pinterest. I have wanted to try “upcycle or altered couture” with T-shirts and knit skirts and now I have some confidence and motivation. Thanks again. Oh, and I will begin following your posts, of course.

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Becky

Hi, and thank you for such a detailed post! I’ve been trying out all of your tips and have been struggling with my walking foot and stretch and zig zag stitches. It all starts off fine but after about 10 inches of sewing the top thread frays and snaps – I’ve tried adjusting the tension but this doesn’t seem to help. What am I doing wrong??

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Jaime

I can’t say for sure without seeing your machine but usually if there’s something wrong with the top thread, then something is wrong in the bobbin. mess with your bobbin tension settings a little and that may fix it? also make sure you are using thread that is right for your machine. for example, embroidery thread may not work in a regular sewing machine.

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Linda

Reading this has made me think I just might be able to make a skirt from the lovely blue 4 way stretch rayon-something knit I bought online. What was i thinking?? I have a few questions.
If I use a twin needle would I try to buy one that is a ball point or would it matter? I have the quiltng foot.
What if I used thin strips of knit interfacing on all the seams to give them strength?
This fabric is nearly see through. That means my bra will show through. Is there a way to under line it? Or sew another knit under it before sewing it together? That could give it a little body also. Like very light weight silk or lawn?
I was going to buy a special pattern “tee shirts for knits and modified for different bodies” It costs $12 but may be worth it. So far I do not have a pattern for the fabric since I did not even know how to sew it. Do you recommend any?

Thanks for your help
Linda

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Marianne

Thanks SO much for this!! One concern I’m having, though is that even when I use the ball point needle, the quilting foot and the stretch stitch setting, my material is not moving forward. Unfortunately for me, my first knit material is quite thin and it is proving to be a real challenge. Do you think that I need to adjust the feed dogs??? Any suggestions would help. Thanks!!

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Jaime

do you have a walking foot? if not, adjusting the feed dogs could help but i always find that messing with the feed dogs turns into a sewist’s nightmare after awhile.

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Natalie

Great tutorial! I’m going to attempt to make some tennis skirts with spandex/lycra knits/wovens and this has helped me get a good footing for this kind of sewing.

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April

So helpful! I was wondering if you had any thoughts on sewing knit and regular cotton together? I am currently sewing a baby dress with a knit top and cotton skirt…. Thanks again!

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Anna

Thank you so much! This is by far the most helpful article on sewing knits. I just have one question. When I first sewed knits following your article, everything turned out great. I used the stretch stitch, walking foot and a ballpoint needle, with 1.0 width and 2.5 length. Now, however, when I use this exact same method, the seams pop and break when I stretch the fabric (more specifically, it seems to be the bobbin thread that breaks first). I’ve changed needle sizes and adjusted thread tension, but nothing works. Do you know if I may be doing something wrong, or if my machine needs to be taken in? Thanks!!

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Kristen

This tutorial is so great! Before I begin however, do I need to get a ballpoint twin needle, or will the regular twin needle that came with my machine work?

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Impossibly Small @ Pia Louise

[…] hooded kimono wrap jackets may be the cutest things ever, and though I had never sewed with jersey, this blog post really cleared some things up for me. Basically I just switched to a ballpoint needle and it was […]

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Diane

My machine eats my knit fabric. I turned down the thread tension and the pressure adjusting. It is a lightweight knit and I have a brand new needle. Ideas? Thank you!

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Jasmine Hill

Very good article! One question, you said to use ball point needle and twin needles. ..so do I need ball point twin needles? New confused sewer lol Thanks.

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Carol

I haven’t been able to find a ballpoint twin needle for my singer. Any suggestions? I know schmetz has a bunch of needles. Which would it be?

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Michele R

I did a search for sewing with knits, and I’m so glad it referred me to this article! I am a beginning sewer, and I have wanted to try knits but was afraid. Now I feel confident, so thank you so much!

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Joan

what a great help I am going to cut out my dress with fabric I have stashed for way too long. I am excited. Thank you.

Joan

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Evie

I did the same thing & pulled out some very soft knit that I cut out for a tee type top this morning. Now I’m trying to get the nerve to start sewing. I have the original double needle that came with my Brother PC 420 that I bought 2 or 3 years ago but have never used the needle. I also ordered a needle changer because my fingers just don’t want to hold the needles for replacement very good. It arrives tomorrow. Do you have any suggestions for changing the needle in a sewing machine? Well, with me luck. 🙂

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Lisa C.

Thank you for having this tutorial. I am new to sewing things other than straight curtains and such. Forgive me if someone has already asked this but how do you prevent the curling of the knit fabric where you’ve cut? I made my first maxi skirt, before reading your tutorial, and my biggest struggle was with the curling edges.

Thank you very much for your insight and help! I look forward to sewing an even better skirt using your tutorial! !

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Mary

Great tutorial! Is it still ok to use a twin needle even if its not ball point? I have the twin needle that came with my machine. And I also have single ball point needles. Which would be best?

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Jaime

It really depends on the fabric, a single ballpoint needle would probably be better, especially if it’s a delicate knit. you could test out the twin needle on a small swatch and see if it tears the fibers. good luck!

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Ramona Crabtree

Hi,

I’m trying to sew a cotton fabric (as skirt) to a knit top. I don’t quite know how. Can you help me? My granddaughter (great) wants a maxi skirt, but wants a tank top as the top. I sew all the time, but this is a new one on me!

Thanks,
Ramona

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Elsa

thanks a lot .. i didnt know the stitch no.4 and zig zag trick for that kind of material and always ended up stitching again and again everytime my fabric stretched.

please tell me how u made that flower? on the second frock?? please

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innie minnie

Thank you so much for the tips. I used the twin needle and walking foot combo and it worked like a dream!!! Muaaahs

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Monique

That was my next question. Can I use a walking foot and twin needle! Thanks for posting this. 🙂

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danielle

I was a bit confused. Do i use a ball point for the zig zag stitch or a regular needle. And for the double needle, do I use a double ball point or regular double. What are the recommended combos of feet, stitches and needles for say a stretch jersey?

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gloria

Does the Brother 5234 PRW use regular needles ? and does it sew a chainstitch like for jeans?

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Bethany H

Help? I have a cheapo brother machine. It is a 5mm so I can only find one walking foot that will fit it. The walking foot is only a single hole so I can’t zig zag or twin needle with it? What should I do?? I am making jersey knit infinity scarves for Christmas. Can I do two parallel lines of straight stitch if I use my walking foot?

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Jaime

The walking foot should be able to accomodate a zig zag with the one hole – try it with a tight width on a test piece to see!

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Kevin Johnson

Knitting is the art of knotting, that is making loops and knots in a length of yarn or thread into a piece of fabric using needles,Many types and styles knitting are running all over the world as per the demand,Knitting was used mostly to create necessary garments to protect against the elements in most European cultures.

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Erica

Just to clarify… Wovens are woven and knits are knitted. Knits can be cotton and wovens can be cotton as well. Cotton is the fiber type so I thought it was weird that you say cottons ARE woven.

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Patricia Byrd

I love this tutorial! I was wondering if you plan on doing one like this but using a serger? I have the same serger as you and love it to, but don’t know what to do with it yet. Lol. Patricia

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Michelle

I wish I had of read this article before. Wish I had a serger. I’m sewing with a stretchy cotton blend fabric and I purchased ballpoint needle. I will try sewing on scrap first. It’s my first attempt.

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charitygrimes

Much thanks to you such a great amount for the tips. I utilized the twin needle and strolling foot combo and it worked like a fantasy.Clothing collection so beautiful.

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Tatiana

So…I have a serger, and everything I’ve read about knits says, “Serge it, it’ll be great!” But my last attempt was NOT so great. The seams popped just as much with my serged edge as they ever did on a regular straight stitch. What the heck am I doing wrong??

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Merilee

Amazing tutorial, exactly what I needed! Thank you for being so thorough and going through each thing that will help when sewing with jersey!

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Amanda

Where can I get the twin ball point needles? I’m not very good with the zig zag stitch

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Sewing Shop

Thanks for posting this great guide on sewing knit fabrics, it’s very well explained with great tips!
I featured it on my blog today, you can see it at the pingback link above this message 🙂

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lorie

I have the same serger as you….love it! If I use the serger, do I just sew as usual?
Thanks

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Michelle

Can you tell me what Robert Kaufman Panda knits are? I googled it but nothing comes up.

Thank you for the great tutorial. I grateful for the help.

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Amanda

What about sewing a stretch fabric and a non stretch together? Any tips ? I have some trims that are stretchy and want to put them on regular fabric and visa versa.

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Galina

Thank you so much. I have bought a jersey dress which was a bit long. So I wanted to make it shorter. I used normal needle and put the dress on today. and guess what….
Came home from work with popped seams )))))
I do have a double needle and never knew what to use it for.

Thank you for you post.

Will give it a go now to see if I am a quick learner))))

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Marilyn

Thanks so much for this! Can you please tell me the settings for the stretch stitch. Is the #4 the same as a zigzag zag stitch? I always wondered why it was slanted.

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Savannah

I am making a baseball tee, my pattern says to use stretch fabrics ” Jerseys, Stretch Velvet, Two Way Stretch”, what would you suggest I use? I am new at sewing and would love to do this project successfully (the first time). If I am using a single needle, should I get a ballpoint or just stick with universal? Please respond as soon as you can, thanks for all the info on stretch fabrics in this post!

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Savannah

I have another question, do you serge stretch fabrics or will that ruin them? Also, I haven’t gone through the pattern with great detail but when I do top stitching such as on the hem of the shirt or the sleeves, do I use a twin needle?

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Jaime

Definitely get the ballpoint needle, though overall I would not suggest this as a project for a beginner, it can be fairly frustrating if you aren’t accustomed to the whims of sewing machines.

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Barbara Harris

Hi,

Thanks for sharing this nice post. I want to add some point for Sewing with Knits Fabrics. Such as-

1. Use the right needle
2. Stitch type and length
3. Seam finishes
4. Serger or Overlock Machines &
5. Stable Seams and Seam Finishes

Regards,
Barbara Harris

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Jason P.

I picked a knit jersey fabric for my first sewing project. I am terrified. But I’m less terrified now! Thanks so much.

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Amy Morris

Amazing post – thank you so much! The photos are fantastic – really helpful. You have demystified the process and I’m now looking forward to giving jersey a try.

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Can We Please Talk About Plus Size Yoga Clothes? - Silk Mayhem

[…] If you’ve never sewn with knits before, which are the ideal choice for workout wear, I would highly recommend using double knit which is a great place to start, giving you the confidence you need to get rolling! Seamwork Magazine has a great post about sewing with double knit and Colette Patterns has a fantastic, downloadable book on working with knits in general. Two blog posts that have also helped me build me confidence and answer many of my questions are Lladybird’s Conquering Knits and Pretty Prudent Sewing with Jersey 101. […]

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Melissa

What size of double needle do I need for a T-shirt quilt? Where can a find a ball point double needle in that size?

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Mary Ellen Paton

Use a ball point needle for knits, and if the fabric has spandex in it use a stretch needle. I don’t recommend universal needles for knits.

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Nisa

I never leave comments for anything, but thank you so much for this. I could not find any specific answers for my question until I found this post. I also never utilized my walking foot. Thank you for that as well haha.

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Carolyn

Another chicken of knits here! I just started sewing a knit top today, so far meh. It won’t end up being my favourite but it’s a jumping off point. Thank you for all the fantastic tips and suggestions, I feel a little more confident now!

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anastasia

Thank you for this article!! I’m a new sewer trying to figure this out and this blog post literally from 0 to 100.

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Debbie Grove

Can’t wait to try! What thread would you recommend using, is it just normal Cotton?

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Maria

Thank you very much, this is really informative ! I can’t wait to try sewing the knits.

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Rita

This was helpful but all the ads are very obnoxious. I wanted to save this as a pdf but the ads cover the article so it is unreadable. Is there a way to download without the ads?

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Juliet

Just nailed the first part of sewing myself a jersey top – my first ever project, and it’s been going super easy thanks to this guide!

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tracy parnham

Thank you so much for this, I actually understood it and the photo’s were a big help. I had to make my cousin a ‘memory’ cushion from a rugby shirt…and thanks to you – it turned out lovely !

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Debra Merrill

Hello, I am going to attempt my first knit project- a baby jacket. The first instructions, after cutting, is to fold over some material on the front and invisible stitch. My question is – can i do this on my machine and how? Thanks

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Meg

Thank you! I want to make my own t shirts and your advice makes me feel more confident to start!

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Jenifer

Thank you SO much for this tutorial! It made it so easy to sew my first knit project. Thank you for all your tips!!

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HeidiJ

I live in Africa and don’t have a walking foot. Do you have any suggestions?

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DCT

WOW, what a great, comprehensive and intelligent post. Thank you so much!
I learned so much reading this and now I’m a lot less afraid of sewing knit fabrics with my sewing machine.

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