I had this idea that maybe if I post this little explanation about knits and it helped just one person, it would be worth it. It’s sort of a follow up to the Real Sewing With Knits blurb.
This is a photo of 6 different knits used in the same pattern, the Crafterhours Racerback Dress (and matching shorts.) I’m hoping this will help take some of the anxiety about knits away. I used the same pattern with 5 different knits, with very different ranges of stretch, weight and stretch-memory and sleeves/armholes bound with different combinations of contrast knits. They’re shown rolled up here so that you can see how much structure each has compared to others. This will help you with “hand” or drape as you go shopping on your own.
1. This first one was a pink lightning bolt knit from girlcharlee.com bound with a Joann Fabrics “Sew Classics” knit in black – I think they were labeling it a double knit or an interlock, now I’m not sure if they’re still calling it the interlock or the ponte. It’s NOT as heavy as the girlcharlee.com ponte (#3.) I think of this as T-shirt fabric. If you were to buy a Hanes T-shirt, this is about what you’d get. Maybe even with slightly less stretch than the Hanes. Jersey knit is what some would call it, but I find that is a loaded word…as you’ll see when we get to #5.
2. I love this stuff. This is in the cotton/lycra blend section at girlcharlee.com. It’s really fluid, thin and stretchy. This is not something you’d want to wear if you wanted structure or if you didn’t want anyone to see what was going on underneath. Hazel wears a sports bra or a cami under hers. I’d wear a cami under it if I made something in it for me. While the fluid drapey is great, and it’s light and thin…it is clingy and I’m not in my 20s anymore. It’s bound its own fabric, so nothing really to report there – it has great stretch and stretch memory in that arena. I could see in a dress where its own weight would make it more droopy than drapey after a day of wear.
3. This is a nice Ponte de Roma cotton from girlcharlee.com as well. Soft, has weight – love it. Bound in same, just different color. Where #2 makes the outfit swishy and light, this Ponte makes the outfit Scooter Mod Girl. She needs a paperboy hat and a poster of The Who. It’s thick enough that it will transition well into fall and winter with some longer leggings or tights and a thin long sleeve t-shirt underneath. Love it. It doesn’t have a ton of stretch – but the shorts are ok and still give the toddler lots of diaper room and room for movement. No climbing on the sofa restrictiveness.
4. This is another what I call the t-shirt knit, also from girlcharlee.com. I have a lot of this fabric in various patterns. It’s lightweight, sturdy. However, note that this stuff has a fraction of the stretch of the others. NOT for leggings or anything fitted that needs a lot of movement. This was bound in the Sew Classic cotton knit from Joann’s, which was probably the best choice I could have made as the Sew Classic knit gives it enough stretch to go over Zoe’s head. Her pants, on the other hand, are pretty restrictive. They’re too tight across the butt and don’t leave room for climbing on the sofa very well. I made a maxi skirt in the chevron version of this fabric with the black Sew Classic knit as a waist band and I love it. I’ve also made the boy big, roomy pj pants in the fabric that work great. So – use patterns that would almost work for a woven with stretch. It’s about like that. Nothing snug or formfitting.
5. This is categorized as a “Sew Classics Slub Knit Jersey” at Joann’s. I originally bought it for workout clothes for me…but it’s pretty bright and, well, see through. I still have plenty left to play with if I’m feeling like I need to look like a neon jawbreaker, but I think I’ll leave it for the kids. It’s pretty see through too. It has good stretch and flex – not as much as the cotton/lycra blends, but it’s alright. I made the mistake of binding it with #4 – see how the arm holes are stiff – and they have hardly any stretch. It barely makes it over Zoe’s head. It’s not a loss by any means, but I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
6. I love this “Kauai” print in girlcharlee.com’s cotton/lycra. It’s a little tiki without looking like a creepy bar, it’s a little loud, it’s a lotta fun. Same section as the #2, a little less sheer. Same properties overall. The only difference is I bound (and back yoke) in the Sew Classics knit from Joann’s which worked great. It’s not too much more structured that it ruins the drape – if anything, it helps. I wouldn’t wear it – again, I’m not in my 20s – it’s a bit too thin/clingy for my lady lumps. I think. I don’t know. I could see a bandeau top with a drapey bottom….yeah, maybe the right pattern. It would hold the “ladies” in place pretty well – it has good strong stretch. I dunno. I just know I like it. It’s more slinky to work with than other knits, but it didn’t cause me any problems.
7. This one didn’t make the pile. This is yet another girlcharlee.com purchase. When I go shopping, I like to GO SHOPPING. It’s bound in a solid also bought at girlcharlee.com. I don’t recall the content of the material – something of a cotton/lycra I think – the orange stripes have a bit of metallic in them…I don’t recall. It feels and works like the neon slub knit, just a bit thicker and not sheer. Doesn’t say much other than it’s really hard to go wrong with knits.
And that’s really the moral of the story. Much like I said here, sewing with knits shouldn’t be scary. I’ve proven that it’s inexpensive. If I can sew up the same pattern in very different fabrics, and have them all work – then there’s no reason to wonder if you’re doing something wrong. There is no wrong.