I love sewing with knits! They are primarily what I use for most of my projects. They’re soft and comfortable which makes for great clothing in my opinion. Here are a few tips that, in my experience, are useful when it comes to sewing with Jersey knit.
1. Spray starch makes it easier to work with light weight Jersey knits.
Lightweight Jersey knits are often drapey, and consequently, a little more tricky to cut out and to keep properly aligned while sewing. Using a spray starch when ironing will stiffen up the fabric and help it lay where you want it to. It also washes right out so no need to worry about it staying on your clothes.
2. Use a walking foot. It helps prevent fabric stretching and wavy seams.
You will probably see this in almost every blog post about sewing with knits because it really does make that big of a difference. A walking foot has “feed dogs” on it making it so that the fabric feeds through the machine on top and bottom. Because of that, your fabric won’t get stretched out or pulled by the presser foot when being sewn. It will feed through evenly. Goodbye wavy seams!
3. A few extra pins will help stabilize your pieces while constructing.
I find that using extra pins while constructing Jersey knit pieces really helps me sew the seam properly. Knits don’t usually stay in place quite as nicely as woven fabrics do. They have a tendency to shift, curl and stretch. With that being the case, using a few more pins to hold the fabric in place is generally helpful, especially if you are not as familiar with knits.
4. Stretch stitches prevent popped seams.
Because Jersey knit fabric is stretchy, your seams must also be stretchy. If not, you will be popping seams when you put on your hand made clothing. To avoid popping seams, use a stretch stitch, or zig zag stitch to construct your knit garments. It is possible to use a straight stitch on knit, but it must be a long stitch. The added length to a straight stitch will allow some stretch to the seam. Some people use a twin needle to make their knit clothing (for seam construction as well as for hemming). Twin needles create a zig zag with the bobbin thread. That zig zag allows for stretch in the seam which is exactly what knit pieces need. The downside with using a twin needle for constructing is you are using twice as much thread. That may or may not be a big deal to you, but either way, using a twin needle may be a good option especially if you don’t have a serger.
5. Use a ball point needle. It will prolong the life of your garment.
Rather than penetrating the fabric threads as a regular machine needle does, the ball point needle separates the fabric threads to pass through when sewing. This is super important when constructing a knit garment because if you use a regular sewing machine needle you will actually make little tears in the fabric that will get worse with time and create holes in your beautiful handmade piece.
6. Hem tape makes hemming easier.
Hem tape is stuck or fused with an iron (depending on what kind you’re using) to the hem of your garment, and then flipped up so the fabric sticks in place. It stabilizes the hem so it won’t shift or move around while you’re sewing it down. It also has the added bonus of reducing tunneling from a twin needle! Just make sure before you buy a hem tape, that you check whether or not you can sew through it. Some hem tapes are only meant to be fused, not sewn. My favorite hem tapes are Heat N’ Bond Soft Stretch Lite, and Wash Away Wonder Tape. (both are safe to use in a sewing machine.)
Now to the free patterns!
The patterns in this post are all sewn with Jersey knits from Cali Fabrics and they are all free patterns! Here are the details.
Patterns For Pirates – Pirate Pencil Skirt found here. Made with this fabric.
Love Notions – Laundry Day Tee found here. Made with this fabric.
(You’ll need to get the code in the Love Notions Facebook group in order to get this pattern for free. Just join the group and its yours.)
Made For Mermaids – Mama Cora Culottes found here. Made with this fabric.
Made For Mermaids – Mama Paige Piko found here. Made with this fabric.
I hope you found some useful tips here and I hope you have fun sewing up these free patterns! Thank you so much for reading. Happy sewing!