Knit fabrics have their own place in the world of sewing. They offer unique advantages that are hard to match for the other types of fabrics, making it important for a sewer to learn about them, especially if they are looking to extend their sewing skillset beyond the basic stuff.
This will be your guide to understanding knit fabrics and the different types available on the market.
What is a Knit Fabric?
Unless you’re new to sewing, you likely already know that there are primarily two types of fabrics – the woven ones and the knit ones.
The woven ones are pretty much self-explanatory, as they are simply woven on a loom, using threads in a way that are called the warp and the weft. The knit fabrics, however, are different in the way that they are knitted, which basically means that they are made of interlocking loops as against warps and wefts.
How to Know if a Fabric is a Knit Fabric?
Unlike most woven fabrics, knit fabrics are known for their stretchable properties, which means that you can easily stretch them.
While most can be stretched side to side, there are also some that can be stretched both side to side and up and down. The former are called two-way stretch fabrics while the latter are known as four-way stretch fabrics.
Knit fabrics are often way more comfortable to wear than the woven fabrics due to their ability to stretch and fit the person wearing them perfectly well.
How to Choose the Right Knit Fabric for Your Needs?
Knit fabrics come in a variety of weights, with their ability to stretch varying quite a bit as well. While some of them may be more suitable for a particular project than the others, you may also want to avoid some that may not be a very good choice.
Hence, it makes sense to spend some time learning about the different types of knit fabrics and how to identify them, before taking up one of the more unique sewing tasks of sewing knits.
Jersey is one of the most popular types of knit fabric. Most t-shirts are made using jersey, in order to make them more comfortable to wear and ensure a better fit.
Jersey is made using a single needle that works very similarly to the knitting needles; making the knits and purls in rows.
Jersey as a fabric boasts quite a few impressive features, including its ability to drape really well and being lightweight. This helps it be a very comfortable fit, which is why it’s the go-to fabric when it comes to making things like t-shirts.
However, something to note here is that although jersey can stretch better than many other fabrics, it often doesn’t recover as well from the stretching.
Jersey also has a right and a wrong side, with the stitches that make V shapes being the right side. For its features that we discussed above, jersey is believed to be a great knit fabric for making pretty much everything that will be used to wear on the top half of the body, including t-shirts, blouses and more.
As the name suggests, double knit fabrics have two layers, and are made using multiple needles. However, both the layers are identical, meaning that there’s no right and wrong side. But there being two layers does make it sturdier than many other knit fabrics, including jersey.
Double knit, which is also known as ponte, interlock and by other names, is one of the best options for people that are new to sewing using knit fabrics. This is because they are easier to sew on using a sewing machine, and using them usually doesn’t get as challenging as using some of the other knit fabrics can get.
However, one of the major downsides to them is that they don’t stretch as much as jersey, so you would have to use your pattern’s stretch gauge to make sure they are suitable for the project you will be using them for.
Similarly, they are also on the stiffer side, and don’t feel as smooth as jersey. However, that also means that they don’t roll in as much, which can make them last longer.
They tend to fit your body a little tighter, often highlighting your body’s curves. This makes them ideal for garments that need to have more “body”, such as structured dresses and lightweight jackets. Pro tip: having a dress form makes using these fabrics much easier.
They also won’t disappoint when making things that demand a closer fit, like leggings and trousers.
You may find our Sewing Dictionary useful!
Again, the name does a pretty good job of explaining what they are all about. So let me get right to its unique features, which include the stitches being more visible and the fabric itself having a fuzzy feel to it.
The kind of variety the sweater knit fabrics bring to the table is second to none as well. Just like the hand-knit sweaters, these fabrics come in many weights, ranging from a heavier one that you would use for making a winter jacket and a lightweight one that would be just perfect for a casual top.
As I said above, the stitches of these fabrics are often clearly visible due to being made using a thicker yarn. However, that’s not in a bad way, as it makes them more stable and thicker than other knit fabrics.
The trade-off is that they are not as stretchable, and also don’t recover well from the stretching. Fraying and unraveling are not very uncommon as well.
All said and done, the sweater knits are still a fairly good option for anything from a structured winter jacket to something like a summer-time cardigan.
Pretty much all the other knit fabrics that don’t fall under any of the categories we discussed above would likely be novelty knit fabrics. They are usually not hard to identify, thanks to being very different in terms of the texture, material or the pattern.Check Price on Amazon
Head on back to Chapter 5: Fabric 101!