I spoke about handling knits at the last meeting, and I thought I would put some of my notes down here. Pictures help tell the story.
First, I often use a decorative stretch stitch for hems. We all have them. What you may think of as a utility stitch may look quite nice on a knit. Play with stitch length and width. I use a stabilizer under the hem to keep it from stretching. Make sure it will tear away afterwards. I like to use a tear and wash product. You only use a tiny strip for this so it’s really cheap to keep it on hand.
Duck billed scissors! Now I do have an addiction to sewing toys, but these are so useful. They trim close to edges without catching underneath and cutting what you don’t want cut. And, you get to say ‘duck billed’! Who doesn’t want to say that?
Here I used an elastic trim (probably meant for undies) to trim the edge. Be careful not to stretch it too much, if at all. Topstitch from the right side to hold it flat.
Here I overlapped seams and used a double needle to stitch in place. The seam lines need to be on top of each other and you stitch down the seam line. Consider your seam allowances when you do this. If they are only 1/4″, you may want to widen them for effect. Take care NOT to cut notches for markings, as they are then visible – as you can see. No, I did not do that on purpose. I got this from a Marcy Tilton pattern. There are good tutorials on her web page.
Here I used a strip of knit to edge hems and neckline. It is sewn to the wrong side of the garment with a double needle. It looks nice and beefs up the edge.
Here I used a blind hem stitch with a blind hem foot. The knit was thicker and took this treatment well. Test drive everything. Picking out knits is not fun. However, cutting the connecting stitches to take out a blind hem is never a problem, so go ahead. If your stitch bites too much, clip it and do that little bit again.
To serge or not to serge? Well, it depends. Do you have a serger? That’s one deciding factor. Sew a test seam and serge a test seam. Which looks better? I more often use a tiny zig zag because I like to avoid a bulky seam allowance and I like to have the seam open flat. However, I like to have a perfectly trimmed seam allowance at times and that may win out. Test both seams with a tug for strength. Play with stitch length and width if you decide to zig zag.
Here I cut off the selvage from a black knit and used it as a neck edge. Knits often have a neat selvedge that lends itself to trim possibilites.
Here are some fold over elastics and a trim elastic. I buy these cheap whenever I see them and keep a stash. Yes, I have a problem. I know it. Get over it already. When applying a fold over to an edge, do not cut off the seam allowance first. Locate the finished edge position and line up the centre elastic fold with that. This will leave you lots of extra fabric under the elastic as you sew, and that makes life so much easier. Sew it to the wrong side first with a little zig zag. Get out the duck bills and trim to just less than the fold. Flip the elastic to cover the edge and stitch down from the right side. The right side will only show one line of stitching. Be careful not to over stretch as you go.
The amazing fork pin by Clover! Use it to match crossing seam lines. One leg goes on each side of the seam and it doesn’t wiggle! You do need to sew with the pin in place, so use that hand wheel. If you are serging, sew over the crossed seam first to hold it in place when you serge.
Feet! I have many. Again, get off my case! The non stick foot is a life saver with some coated or embellished knits. The stitch in the ditch foot is great for edge stitching or decorative stitches on a seam. Blind hem foot, couching foot, elastic foot – lots more to think about.
Needles to deal with stretch, awls to keep things moving under the presser foot, Steam a Seam to keep hems or edges in place while you stitch – I know you have other tricks up your sleeves!
My current fav – the triple needle! You can use 1,2 or 3 colours of thread! This is another overlap seam. Always make a sample. I think I used a tissue paper stabilizer with some of these seams, although from the puckering here I think I may have missed this one.
I don’t have a pic of the sheer sleeve issue. Lots of knit patterns encourage you to try different knits in the same garment, and you may have a sheer sleeve against a solid body. You don’t want the sleeve seam to show. Serge or stitch it and then topstitch it to the body. Out of sight, out of mind. Now if you are also using the sheer fabric for the body, cut a lining from a knit that has the same characteristics as your outer fabric – the same sort of stretch and equal or less weight. You can also use the lining to support a hem. Either stitch to the lining by hand be really tricky and cut the lining a bit shorter. Sew all side seams. Sew the two layers together at the hem (in a circle) and turn so the wrong sides are together. Then treat the 2 layers as one to sew in sleeves and neck treatment.
Knits are cheap and forgiving! Get busy!