I don’t know about you, but a few years ago I wasn’t even aware that one could SEW a sweater. To me, sweaters were garments that one knitted (or for me — bought).
It wasn’t until I read an article in a sewing magazine that I became aware that there was even such a thing as a “sweater knit.” The magazine was either Threads or Sew Stylish and showed all of these pretty sweaters and sweater dresses that were sewn and not knitted. A light bulb popped in my head just at that moment! Instead of spending A LOT OF TIME (at least to me! I’ve never knitted more than a scarf!) knitting a sweater, I could just SEW IT!
What are sweater knits? Sweater knits are knit textiles that are often a looser weave with larger yarns than other knits [like jersey] and pretty much look like your favorite sweaters, except that they’re on a bolt. As there are many different types of fabrics, there are different kinds of sweater knits. Sweater knits are made from cotton, polyester, acrylic, rayon, viscose, linen, wool, silk and blends of different fiber contents. Some are thick like a hand knit sweater and some are very lightweight while others can be lacy and mimic crocheted sweaters. Wool jersey is often considered a sweater knit.
Where do I get sweater knits? If you’re looking for sweater knits in fabric stores, they’re generally located in the knit area. If you like to buy fabrics online, a search for “sweater knit” will usually show you all of the sweater knits that are available from that store. I have found some really nice sweater knits from Mood Fabrics, Harts Fabrics, Fabric.com and Fabric Mart Fabrics.
What is it like to sew with sweater knits? A lot of sweater knits are pretty stable and it won’t be much different working with a stable, heavier sweater knit than working with woven fabrics. If you’re sewing with a stretchier sweater knit like a merino jersey or hacci knit, it will be more like sewing with a jersey knit, but likely more stable than working with most jerseys. I use a ballpoint jersey needle when I sew with sweater knits. It’s suggested that you use a 80/12 stretch needle. Sew your sweater knits just as you would anything other knit with a zig zag stitch or serger. Most sweater knits will need to have the seams finished to stop fraying. It’s also important to pre-treat your sweater knit fabric just as you would handle any sweater with the same fiber content.
What can I make with sweater knits? If your sweater knit has some stretch to it, you can make just about any pattern that is meant for knits. Just pay attention to the amount of stretch that a knit pattern might need as a lot of sweater knits are not really that stretchy compared to their other knit counterparts. Some patterns will also specifically state that they are made for sweater knits, but basically you are looking for a pattern that is for a knit with moderate stretch. If you have a pattern that’s meant for a woven fabric, you could usually use a sturdier sweater knit to make that as well.
Simplicity 2154 is my go-to cardigan pattern. I’ve made it four times now and will definitely make some more in the future. I usually shorten the sleeves and the hem when I make it.
Another classic cardi pattern is McCall’s 6708 with sleeve, neckline and length variations.
I just LOVE the Jenna cardi by Muse Patterns. I’ve seen so many lovely versions and I have some sweater knit fabric set aside to make a couple of these!
I love the v-neck version of this unisex cardigan pattern from McCall’s and am planning on making that for a Christmas gift. The shawl collar version with patches would give you that “grandpa” cool swagger.
This sweet cardi pattern from BurdaStyle would work great from crocheted sweater knit, a lacy sweater knit or any type of lightweight sweater knit like a hacci knit. Or of course a knit lace that’s recommended!
I’ve seen a lot of super cute Julia cardigans around by Mouse House Creations.
Another cardigan pattern for sweater knits is the Banded Front Cool Cardigan — Pamela’s Patterns #111.
How about a peplum cardigan? Try McCall’s 6844.
If a flowy cardigan is more your style, then McCall’s 6084 might be for you.Sweater patterns
It’s no secret that the BlueGingerDoll Bonnie is a favorite of mine. I’ve made two now and have at least two more waiting in the wings. There are variations like scoop and bauteau necklines, 3/4 and flutter sleeves.
Vogue 8854 is an interesting hooded or mock t-neck pullover sweater.
Or what about this shawl collar version of McCall’s 6796?
How about Style Arc’s Alexi classic turtleneck with a lightweight stretchy sweater knit?
Or this Vogue 8597 cowl neck sweater pattern.
How about trying Simplicity 1463, a loose-fitting hi-low top out of a lightweight sweater knit?
Looking for a loose, comfy sweater? BurdaStyle 7003 is the answer!
I’ve also seen some very nice sweaters made from the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern.
And the Deer and Doe Plantain which I think would look super cool in a sweater knit with suede patches.Dress patterns
For a sweater dress, you could take most of the sweater patterns and alter them to make a dress by either elongating the pattern lines or by adding a skirt.
I recently bought two coordinating lightweight sweater knits to make the Muse Gillian Wrap Dress. I don’t think I’ve seen a Gillian yet in a sweater knit, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be made with one! I imagine that the wrap skirt and top version would work just as well, too.
Or how about Simplicity 2369? I could definitely imagine this pattern in a stretchy sweater knit.
You could also try the Victory Lola for a slim fitting sweater dress.
The Weekender Chameleon Dress by Hot Patterns also looks like it would be a good candidate for a sweater knit.
I can see the Style Arc Laura dress being made with a stretchy wool jersey.
I can also picture Vogue 1390 in a sweater knit.
Kwik Sew 3754 looks like it would be perfect for a sweater knit.
The Bronx Dress by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic also looks like it would be great with a stretchy sweater knit.
Want a sweater dress that’s super chic? How about the Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Artemis Dress?
BurdaStyle 6948 also looks like it would make a great sweater dress. Bonus is that it has the patterns for a cardi and a sweater, too!
Another sweater dress pattern with a cardi and tee pattern included is the Metropolitan by Hot Patterns.
I just added a bunch of patterns to my wish list!
Have you sewn with sweater knits before? What patterns do you recommend?
Where do you buy your sweater knits?