The Sewing Place

Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric


Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« on: December 17, 2017, 15:43:04 PM »
Oh it is a very long time since I sewed using knitted fabric and then it was on a straight stitch machine.

So why is it now the week before Christmas and I need something made in a hurry, so my question is what is the best way to stitch the seams on a knit top – down to thighs, set in sleeves and a cowl collar?  Think this is single knit as the edges are curling.   I have various stretch stitches on the sewing machine and also the superb triple straight stitch, but that is a tiny stitch and a so and so to unpick if unpicking needs to be done,  I also have a super overlocker.

I know that some of you say whizzing a knit up on the overlocker is a doddle and so quick, but then what have you used, four thread or three thread?  Next what about pressing, I don’t want signs of seams showing through, and I am proposing shoulder princess seaming, so if I use the overlocker then the seams need to be pressed to one side i.e. towards the centre front/centre back.  I will probably use the triple straight stitch for setting in the sleeves as I know around the armhole is the most likely place for any seam to pop.  Next question have any of you used a stretchable interfacing?  I have some from Michele Pye, but as you can guess this will be the first time I have used this.  Have you used some sort of tape on the shoulder seams to stop these from stretching?

Again looking at the various stretch stitches  on  the sewing machine some look as though they are going into the seam allowance, so what about pressing these?

I have a length of some very nice knit fabric in the washing machine at the moment just in case it decides to shrink, but any help anyone can give me would be much appreciated.


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017, 16:18:31 PM »
I'd definitely be using the overlocker.  I usually use a 4 thread for seaming.  If you use fine overlocker thread for seaming pressing shouldn't be too bad afterwards.  If you worry about show through, put something like brown paper underneath to stop the marks as you press. 
Armholes I still use the overlocker.  I've never had a problem with seams going on anything.  On shoulder seams I use something like Vilene fusible stay tape.  That is ironed to the back shoulder. But I'm also happy using the selvedge from silk organza or a fine lining.  Works like a dream and costs nothing! :)


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2017, 16:50:55 PM »
Thank you so much.  Until I have got the fabric out of the washing machine and dried and then cut out I have no scraps to try playing with.  Unfortunately I do seem to pop certainly the armhole seams on wovens, hence that is why I always  use that lovely triple straight stitch, but I can see this just disappearing into the knit fabric.

I do have a variety of pressing aids,  a Tailor’s Board, a point presser, hams, rolls, brown paper, I just don’t want the fabric stretching out of shape, so I will certainly try on scraps first before going on to the garment.

As I said it is a very long time since I sewed with knits, and I must say the fabrics I then used were much thicker than today’s knits which has thrown me somewhat.  I do have a variety of needles, both ball point and stretch in various sizes and also some special cover stitch needles if I decide to do the hems and ends of the sleeve this way – I just need more time!!

Funnily when I was sewing with knits all those years ago, I just used an ordinary pattern for wovens, did ordinary open seams and then top stitched them, and I wore and wore those outfits until they either wore out or I was fed up with them, but as I have said the knit fabric was nothing like today’s knits.


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2017, 17:26:51 PM »
I'd recommend using your overlocker.  Definitely use some sort of non-stretch tape on the shoulders.  For the sleeves, I now sew them in before sewing the sleeve and side seams, much easier on the overlocker.


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2017, 20:38:10 PM »
Another vote for using the overlocker - 4 thread for seams, the 3 thread stitch is more for neatening the seam allowances on wovens.

  Unfortunately I do seem to pop certainly the armhole seams on wovens,

That suggests that the back width is not big enough for you.  Knit fabrics, especially if they include elastane/Lycra are more forgiving but maybe it's time to look again measurements and fitting.
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 19:04:01 PM »
Definitely the overlocker, I can't advise about 3 or 4 thread because a lot depends on the thickness and stretch of the fabric.


Re: Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2017, 17:15:51 PM »
May I thank all of you who have replied to my plea regarding sewing on knits.
You have all been very helpful.  I will need to practice on some scraps, and also get some of the Vilene tape mentioned, only this will have to be mail order, and I cannot see it getting here this side of Christmas.

Also life has a way of scuppering plans, and I now cannot see this getting made in time for next week which is a shame.  School breaks up at lunch time and I have my grandson here all afternoon, plus I have a Christmas tree parked in the middle of my lounge, other decorations needing to go up and apparently despite having photos of how the decorations go I am needed to supervise exactly where each bit goes!!

So perhaps it is best that this sewing gets forgotten about until after Christmas when hopefully I can pay full attention to this especially if I am going to try out new techniques like cutting out with a rotary cutter, applying fusible bits of tape, fusing stretchable interfacing,using the overlocker on a knit, using coverstitch.