Mar 17, 2012 Sewing with Knits Although I have often experimented with knits, I started to avoid working with them because I could never seem to get that professional finish or prevent that "home made" look. But lately I've been seeing so many beautiful knit fabrics in the fabric store; the colors, prints, and quality of the fabrics are stunning, and there is no way to beat the comfort or the wash and wear ease of a knit garment. So this season, I set out to design a pattern that would work with my regular home sewing equipment and result in a professional looking finished garment. The result is The Cool Cowl Tank pattern. The Pattern: Firstly, this new pattern incorporates "negative ease". This basically means that the pattern measurements are smaller than your body measurements but because we are working with knits that stretch, the garment will fit perfectly when worn. This is in sharp contrast to any knit patterns I have purchased before which seemed to have ease where none was needed. Secondly, all In-House Patterns are engineered specifically for the construction method and sewing equipment used. For The Cool Cowl Tank, this means the seam allowances are 1/4" which will perfectly accommodate a four thread serger stitch and requires no trimming. This in itself saves fabric and time as well as contributes a great deal to a professional looking finished garment. Thirdly, this is a knit pattern and fitting issues are always very minimal. Now that's good news! The Fabric: I featured this top in a printed tencel jersey which has an incredible soft hand and feels absolutely luxurious! You will want to choose something with a nice soft drape and fabric with a little spandex is a nice feature. No matter what you choose be sure to preshrink the fabric, knits have a tendency to shrink quite a bit. Plan to buy 8%-10% more yardage for knits made from natural fibers. The Equipment: The Cool Cowl Tank has been specifically designed for use with a regular straight stitch machine and a four thread serger. Although this pattern can be stitched entirely with your straight stitch machine, using a four thread serger will give you a professional "ready to wear" finish. If you don't already own a serger, I would highly recommend getting one. I have a Singer Ultralock which has been very good to me for about 15 years, it doesn't do anything fancy but I use it extensively. If a serger isn't in your budget right now, drop in at a sewing lounge, and use the equipment there. The great thing about knits is they are so quick to stitch up, the rental cost will be minimal! Check your sewing machine needle. For knits you will need to use a universal, ball point, or a stretch needle. These work best with the structure of a knit and will prevent snagging and skipped stitches. The needle size will depend on your fabric so do some stitching tests. Sewing Techniques Since knits stretch, your seams need to stretch too otherwise they will snap and break. A serged seam is really the best option since it is inherently flexible but if you are using a regular straight stitch machine, I recommend using a 3mm stitch length and stretching the seam slightly as you sew. The results are good and sewing is relatively quick. You can also use a narrow zig zag stitch or a stretch stitch if you have one on your machine, but these are a bit slow going in my opinion. These stitches used in combination with a walking foot will make sewing with knits a breeze. Finishing the seam allowance edges isn't necessary since most knits won't ravel or fray. So hopefully I've convinced you that sewing knits is super easy and has many advantages! I think you will fall in love with it once you start.