Sewing with knits doesn’t have to be scary if you have the right supplies! Here are my essentials, which you should try to get hold of before we start.
– Sewing machine
Ah, the great serger vs. zigzag debate! In my experience, having a serger is certainly the best option for sewing knits – it finishes them beautifully, cutting the edge of the fabric as you sew. It’s also how RTW wrap dresses are made.
However, you certainly can sew knits with a sewing machine using the zigzag stitch and some care. If you are using a sewing machine, you could consider using a walking foot, which basically pushes knit fabrics through your machine in a more even way. For more info on sewing knits with a regular machine, check out Tilly’s tips.
For finishing your hems, you can use a coverstitch machine (or convertible serger), but most people don’t have one of those, so a twin-needle on your sewing machine can also work well (more details will follow on this during the sewalong).
– Ballpoint or jersey needles
Due to the way that knit fabric is made, you need to use special needles with rounded ends which push apart the threads of the fabric rather than cutting through them. They’re easy to find – you can either buy “ballpoint” or “jersey”. This is a must, regardless of whether you’re using a serger or sewing machine. I also like using ELX needles on my serger – particularly for coverstitch, it makes a big difference.
– Knit stay tape
This is my secret weapon! Knits have a tendency to stretch out at the edges, and using fusible knit stay tape makes a huge difference to stabilizing edges. It’s also very helpful when hemming, as I’ll explain later. I buy my stay tape from Emma Seabrooke.
– Wonder tape
This isn’t essential, but I find it very helpful! This is ¼ inch double-sided tape which you can use to secure seams or hems before you sew them. It doesn’t gum up your needles, and washes out with water. It allows you to be much more accurate, and is very helpful when you are dealing with slippery fabrics. I am a total convert! You can buy it on Amazon or from Grey’s Fabrics.
– Clear elastic
If you want to reinforce the shoulders of your dress even more, you can use clear elastic. I usually just use the stay tape for this. You can buy it at any store that has notions, like Grey’s Fabrics.
– Rotary cutter and mat
Another optional piece of equipment, but I wouldn’t be without mine. Cutting knits with a rotary cutter and weights is quicker and it’s easier to get a clean cut without bunching. However, cutting with scissors is certainly an option, too. Threads has a great article on the different types available. You can buy these at JoAnn’s (which often has coupons so you can get a major discount!), or other fabric stores.
– Press cloth
Knit fabrics have a tendency to get shiny if you press them, so a good press cloth can help avoid that. Some people don’t press at all when sewing with knits, but I find that it helps get a much more professional finish. Here’s the one that I use, but you can also make your own from some organza!
Beyond these, you’ll need the basic supplies required for all sewing projects: needles, pins, thread, scissors, marking tools (like chalk or a temporary pen), an iron and ironing board, and any others tools that you love!
Do you have any other essential tools that you use when sewing with knits? I’m always on the lookout for more!
You now have 2 weeks to get your pattern, fabric and tools together, and then we’ll start making this baby! See you back here on September 29th.
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