Sunday, 5 June 2016

Let's talk knits

Three weeks ago I finally took the plunge and started sewing with knit fabrics.  Sewing and fitting knit and woven fabric is quite different so I put it off for ages having heard it is quite tricky.  I spoke to a few sewing friends for their top tips, found out the best places to buy jersey, which in my opinion is way harder to buy online than woven fabrics are, and arranged to go visit my mate Daisy Crumpet for a sewing with knits masterclass.  Over a few cups of tea we spent the afternoon putting together a muslin of the Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo bodice in some cheap leopard print jersey I bought specifically for this purpose.  Once home I made up the skirt, attached it and decided that actually sewing with knits is a piece of cake.  Unfortunately I haven't actually worn the muslin I made as the fabric is cheap, thin and doesn't feel great but hey that's okay as I have now made 14 others that are all lovely to wear and sewing them has been really enjoyable.  I originally intended to make the Out and About dress by Sew Caroline as that looked most like my beloved Emery dress but it didn't arrive in time and I had also bought the Lady Skater PDF ready for making a Liberty sweatshirt dress so I just went for that.

This is my second Lady Skater dress, made out of a lovely dandelion print from Monaluna.  It's supersoft and lovely to wear but doesn't have that great a recovery so will need regular washing to bring it back into shape.  I use clear elastic in the shoulder seams and waist of all of my dresses to prevent them stretching out of shape and know that this fabric definitely benefits from that.  It's been a steep learning curve that all jersey behaves differently, I had to take this one in and it is still bigger round the waist than my other dresses plus it ended up a fair bit shorter even though it was cut out to the same length.  I've decided it's fun and flirty even if I do feel a little exposed in it!  If anyone has any helpful tips as to how to work out how each jersey will behave I would love to hear them.  The fabric is from Elephant in My Handbag, they have a lovely selection of jersey knits that can be found here.

Shoes: Orla Kiely x Clarks

The things I have learned along the way:

*  Sewing with knits is actually easier than sewing with wovens - no zips to insert for a start.  I use my overlocker for everything but the hems so it all comes together quickly.

*  Taking your time to learn good technique and having the right tools will give you a great finish.  I was worried my knits would look handmade so I avoided using zigzag stitches on hems and bought a tape to help stabilise them.  I love that I make my own clothes but I want them to look better than what I could buy in the shops.  Plus my stripes match up, dammit! 

*  Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to knits.  I love sewing foot to the floor and find it really hard to slow down but it is important to take it down a notch when sewing with knit fabric, no one wants a stretched out hem.

*  I actually like circle skirts.  I don't like circle skirts on woven dresses so haven't ever sewn one.  The skirt on the Lady Skater falls really nicely, it's gentle in a nice drapey jersey and more swishy and full bodied in a sweat.  I have made three sweatshirt fabric dresses so far and love wearing them.  It turns out I am not really a fan of a gathered skirt on a knit dress, I have added a gathered skirt to a couple of my dresses and much prefer wearing the circle skirt versions.  Wearing the Lady Skater dress has made me decide to give a woven circle skirt another go, I have some lovely crepe that will make an awesome Emery so am going to try it with a half or three quarter circle skirt (whatever my fabric will allow).  I'll still never be a fan of a full circle skirt.

*  Fitting knits is way easier than fitting wovens.  The Lady Skater is designed with negative ease over the bust so the stretch in the fabric does most of the work.  I didn't need to size up sleeves to fit my arms and there are no darts to sew!  For the Lady Skater I narrowed the shoulders, took off a little of the shoulder height and shortened the bodice and that's it in turns of fitting.  I also raised the neckline but that's personal preference rather than a fit adjustment. 

*  When it comes to knit fabrics it really is a case of getting what you have paid for.  Turns out I am not a fan of sewing with or wearing cheap jersey.  Most of the jersey I have bought is organic, manufactured in Europe and of lovely quality.  A lot of them have been around the £16-£20 a metre mark which I initially thought was really bloody expensive til I realised I only needed 1.5 metres compared to 2.5 for a woven dress.  I am going to compile a post of good places to buy knit fabric in the near future, I have spent many hours hunting around online.

*  Plus everyone knows knit dresses are in fact secret pyjamas, I had forgotten how comfy knit dresses are.



  1. nice dress..


  2. I love this dress on you. Welcome to the Lady Skater fan club! I had to force myself to stop making them for a while as it was becoming a bit obsessive. I haven't made one for at least six weeks now so another one is probably on the cards quite soon. :o)

    1. Haha, you don't need to explain dress pattern obsessions to me!! They are so lovely to make and wear I can see why you want more.

  3. Love this skater 90s!

    1. It seems I am hankering after the 90's at the moment, want to create a button up dress I have seen online that has a very 90's vibe!

  4. I really must make a couple more of these. I like using clover wonder clips, instead of pins, especially for hemming. I love my twin needle for hemming knits (and even more since I started using woolly nylon in the bobbin).

    1. Oooh woolly nylon? I use a stay tape in my hems so don't need to pin them but I do have some wonder clips somewhere that I haven't ever used so will dig them out and see if I prefer them to pins for the rest of it.


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