Knits: the next frontier

by Erin on January 29, 2009

Liberty Jupiter

I was lucky enough to get an eBay gift card for Christmas … well, actually, it was intended for both me and my husband, but I appropriated it immediately and he didn't squeak — he's not what you would call a big eBay shopper. And I figured I would spend it on — what else? — fabric. Namely, Liberty.

I fell in love with this pattern, and realized too late that it's jersey knit. I don't really sew with knits. I mean, I have done, but I've never really ENJOYED it. I even got rid of my serger last year, since I do so little knit-sewing. But for this fabric, I will make an exception. What kind of exception, I don't know (well, I know it's not going to be an elastic-waist skirt, I have it narrowed down that much). I'm thinking I'll be doing a lot of browsing over on BurdaStyle; they have great patterns for knits. I want a dress (duh) and I want pockets (double duh) which are hard to manage in knits, I think. (Maybe I'll line them with organza?) But I'll make it work. Fuchsia-style. Just watch me … on a significant time delay, since there are about 677 projects in front of this one. But still! Knits!

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy January 29, 2009 at 7:34 am

I feel the same way about knits! I love your print! Can’t wait To see it.do you have a favorite liberty source?

Reply

San Antonio Sue January 29, 2009 at 7:44 am

Got rid of your serger? I don’t sew much with knits either, but I use mine extensively for edge finishing. One thing I hate about “home-sewn” garments is the ravelly, fraying inside. Adding edge finish puts a “polish” on the finished garment. Also, it stabilizes the seams and gives body to the garment. I also serge the garment hems and then tack them to the garment to eliminate bulk on the hem. I can’t imagine life without mine!

Reply

Erin January 29, 2009 at 7:47 am

Sue — I agree with you about edge finishing, but the zig-zag stitch on my regular machine works just fine for that, without me having to change the thread (again!) in a serger. :-)

Reply

dwj January 29, 2009 at 7:56 am

Why don’t you like that knits? That’s what I prefer to sew with – plus jersey always looks so much better on me. Maybe I prefer it since I’m still just a novice sewer.

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 7:57 am

It might be easier to add pockets if you make the pockets out of a non-knit material and topstitch the edges where the knit and non-knit fabrics meet. Of course, I have never tried this myself….Love your blog.–Emsmom

Reply

Erin January 29, 2009 at 7:59 am

dwj, I don’t know — I think it’s because I’m so hard on my clothes, I always seem to pill or run jersey knits so quickly! I guess I could try to be less of a klutz …Oh, and I forgot to post that I bought this on ebay.co.uk. That’s where I go for Liberty fabric, most of the time.

Reply

sixties sewer January 29, 2009 at 7:59 am

I love knits. So forgiving in fit! I sometimes combine knits with woven fabrics so I think you could use a cotton woven for the pockets as long as they don’t drag down the jersey (depends on the weight of both). This is fabulous fabric.

Reply

Nora January 29, 2009 at 8:03 am

Love it! Do I feel a fabric week coming on?

Reply

goldilocks January 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

I can never seem to get excited about sewing with knits, either, Erin. Love wearing it when finished, but actually dragging it out and CUTTING it…. another story.There are probably ten yards of jersey in my stash, all in sensible solid colors, and they are passed over again and again for nutty woven prints or Dharma stuff I’ve put through the kitchen sink dye-factory. That’s a beautiful color, though.

Reply

Kristen January 29, 2009 at 8:27 am

i love knits to wear, fear them to sew with. I’ve had a serger for 14 months that I’ve never learned to use! *shame*

Reply

Little Hunting Creek January 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

I love that fabric! And I love sewing with knits (no edge finished required inside – really, they don’t unravel) Plus they are so comfortable.

Reply

Sisuile B January 29, 2009 at 8:44 am

When dealing with knits, this is my favorite: http://www.burdastyle.com/howtos/show/757It's so simple and elegant, and I use my waistband as a pocket.

Reply

Alison January 29, 2009 at 9:19 am

I love knit dresses, mainly because I can throw one together in less than two hours.I’ve made this pattern from Vogue before and its pretty pocket ready.

Reply

LadyT January 29, 2009 at 10:07 am

I too do not sew often with knits…so few historical patterns make use of them :D. I do however, have some really cute knits patterns, and I forced myself to make a dress this past week with some knit material. I would like to do some more sewing with knits to expand my options. Right not I just use my serger for finishing and roll hemming. I don’t usually bother to change the thread in it either, I just finish everything in either black or white.

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 10:08 am

Love the fabric, Erin.Coco Chanel didn’t have a serger, and she managed! Go for it!

Reply

Glamoursurf January 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

You could make a swim dress Erin, that fabric is gorgeous!

Reply

sewingsusan January 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

I agree with you about knits. Having said that, there are knits and then there are knits. This is lovely. The new Burda patterns just came out and I found a lovely wrap style dress (which I usually don’t care for but this one’s different) and was dismayed to find it called for a knit fabric. Maybe it’s a marriage? Good luck. Excellent choice. Oh, and your husband is an enabler, so’s mine :D.

Reply

melissa January 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

I ADORE knits! So quick to sew and so comfortable to wear…As for pattern suggestions, have a look at Vogue 1027 – it’s a DKNY wrap dress but it’s rated easy, HAS POCKETS(!), and was just voted one of Pattern Review’s best patterns of 2008…

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 10:36 am

Don’t have a serger and am rather weary of sewing with knits, but have found Liberty jersey really easy to use. It’s easy to cut; it feeds nicely into the machine (no stretching, or wonkiness) and seams and hems come out nice and flat without the need for seam tape or the like.I had that very same fabric on my ebay watch for about 5 mins last week, readying myself to buy… only to find it had gone. Now I know where it went! Looking forward to seeing the result, Erin, as I’m sure you’ll get round to using it much faster than I would have done!

Reply

scormeny January 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

I second Melissa’s recommendation of Vogue 1027, and definitely suggest looking it over at patternreview.com, there is great advice from all the sewists there who have taken it on.

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

Buttericks Maggie London has lots of knit dress choices: http://www.butterick.com/web/shop.cgi?search=maggie+londonTI=10002M=pageSize=9

Reply

Jen ~ MOMSPatterns January 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

Check out some funky ones from the 70s, Erin.. I see them from that time period made especially for knits quite often!I am a SUCKER for pinks.. I love that fabric.. purr purr!

Reply

Michelle January 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Gorgeous fabric!! And I love to sew with knits (and don’t have a serger), I think you will do fantastically!

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

look at Jalie patterns for knits, too.

Reply

mickey January 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I saw that fabric and immediately thought of a wrap dress… and I see others have the same idea! It’s gorgeous!

Reply

Natasha January 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I WOULD DEFINATELY PURCHASE THIS FABRIC FROM YOU!!!! GORGEOUS!

Reply

Nicole January 29, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Hey, anyone looking for this fabric can find it here:http://stores.ebay.com/Wilsons-Textiles_W0QQssPageNameZstrkQ3amefsxQ3asstQQtZkmI have bought from this seller before, they have excellent prices on liberty and the customer service and shipping are good as well.

Reply

askpauline January 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

No need to change threads so often in the serger. White or light tan for light colors, Navy blue works for black and dark colors, pink now and again when the other two just won’t do. You can also significantly change the construction order when serging, so that you can do everything flat – not ideal for haute couture, but for basic cotton dresses it’s great! I also serge all my hems, then turn twice and topstitch. You don’t even have to measure because you can use the serged edge as a guide. I don’t think I’d sew if it wasn’t for the serger.

Reply

Karen January 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

You know, I wear knits almost exclusively, but I only sew with wovens. I’m completely intimidated by knits, how to fit, how to cut, how to stitch. I bought some cheap clearance knit to try to replicate a purchased shirt or dress, since knits look better on me, but I’m still afraid!

Reply

Anonymous January 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm

I love knits thats about all I sew and wear anymore. Take a look at Christine Jonsons patterns. They are designed for knits and there are some styles you might like. If you sandwich your pocket between two layers of stabilizer (you can see through the water-soluble kind) that will go a long way toward perfecting your stitching. Carol in Denver

Reply

brocadegoddess January 29, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Liberty does jerseys?? How did I not know this? I was at the store in London a couple times over the summer and don’t remember seeing any. But maybe that’s because I too busy goggling at the woven silk prints!What’s the fabric content of this delicious beauty?And I’ve actually been debating whether to upgrade my serger to one with more functions, or just not have one at all anymore. When I was first learning to sew I wasn’t ready for a serger. Then a few years in I was and used it religiously for EVERYTHING for almost 10 yrs. But in the last few years I’ve been using it less and less as I do more french or bound seams and line almost everything. Funny how that happens, eh?

Reply

Jen January 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

You can tame jersey fairly well if you use fusible interfacing in a tricot (they speak the same language).Just cut tricot into long strips about an inch wide, and fuse down the seamline before you sew. It’s not hard to do and really keeps seams flat and smooth (especially if you need to sew in a zip). I would interface the entire pocket fabric before cutting that pattern piece (block fuse), then your pockets won’t ‘boing’ when you drop your keys in.(p.s. ball point needles)

Reply

Katie January 30, 2009 at 12:41 am

Looks like perfect fabric for a spring wrap dress. Can’t see a forseeable way to add pockets without them being droopy, though.

Reply

propriatress January 30, 2009 at 1:13 am

you go! I’ve been sewing for about 45+ years and never ever used a serger (got one, never unpacked it) and I sew knit all the time. My 1986 Singer has knit stitches…I use those…just start slow and experiment with scraps and stuff…use the Knit needles….I sew knits everyday…projects go faster…And Knits Are My Friend ™

Reply

sewingsusan January 30, 2009 at 7:37 am

Here’s the Burda pattern….the top is almost duro style and vintage-like skirt. The line drawing gives you a better idea.http://www.burdafashion.com/en/Patterns/Main_Collection/7697_Dress_and_top/1270778-1128998-1005105-1683547.html

Reply

patternjunkie January 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

LOVE that fabric! And Jen, that’s a great tip for sewing knit seam — I’ll be trying it out soon!

Reply

mamafitz January 30, 2009 at 8:14 am

nice print. the vogue dress recommended is nice. my current favorite knit dress is the Hot Patterns cosmo dress. you could add inseam pockets easily, and since it has a waist inset, you could have the tops of the pockets attached to that (so they don’t flop around. i hate that). the one i made is here, and i’m totally going to have to make it again.

Reply

La BellaDonna January 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Aaaaieee! I don’t sew with knits, either, and I LOVE my serger! I too use it for finishing edges of seams and hems, and I find it gives a much cleaner finish than zigzagging – it really does. It’s superb for working with brocades, which are hideously ravelly once cut, and for some really evil silk-and-wool blended twills which tried to unweave themselves as fast as I cut them out – I carried each piece to the serger as it was cut out, so that it wouldn’t unravel beyond the seam allowance before I had a chance to stitch it up!I love my zigzag and use it often, but it really doesn’t take the place of a serger, IMO. However, I’m glad you disagree, Erin – since you no longer have a serger to work with! And jersey was an extraordinarily popular fabric for dresses, in the 50s and earlier, and those folks managed without sergers, so it’s obviously doable.And Jen is right on the mark with the fusible tricot, especially about stabilizing the zipper area before inserting a zipper … although I believe that jersey should earn its keep; why does it need a zipper, when it stretches?Karen, if your knit experiment doesn’t work out quite the way you’d like, don’t give up. Unless you’d normally wear a cheap knit dress or shirt, you may be disappointed by the results, and you might blame your lack of familiarity in working with knits, instead of the cheap clearance knit. You might be better off buying a remnant of a better jersey to practice with, or a piece of jersey off Ebay. One of those 50s tops with 3/4 kimono sleeves and a simple V neck would be a PERFECT first-jersey project, and if you make it in something you like, you’ll actually be happy to wear it; something like that would take about a yard and a half. I have a couple of knit skirts that I bought which I plan to duplicate; the cut is very simple, a yoke (with a narrow elastic in the waist) attached to the skirt portion, which consists of narrow rectangles alternating with triangular gores, making a full circle. Easy to copy, easy to make, and elegant in a good jersey! Folkwear Patterns had a Fifties Flair Pattern which was PERFECT for making an attractive jersey dress (turtleneck or V-neck version); the Sneaky Stitcher will quickly realize that not only will it make up into a nice dress, but if the bodice and skirt pieces are used separately, you will also have – Ta Daaa! patterns for 2 blouses and a skirt. Folkwear’s discontinued it, but it’s still available at http://cheap-threads.com/fofiflpa.html. In fact, I’m ordering mine now.Jen@MomsPatterns is right about 70s patterns; there are a lot of splendid patterns for knits available. Don’t forget to look at the sewing magazines from the 50s, with their “recommended for ____ fabric” pattern suggestions – take a look at the patterns that were recommended for use with jersey, there are a TON of them, and you’ll be much less apt to screw up matching pattern up with fabric until you’re more comfortable with winging it.

Reply

Hanna and Daniel February 1, 2009 at 5:41 am

I didn’t know that eBay have gift cards! That’s really great both to wish for and to give as a gift.

Reply

The Slapdash Sewist February 2, 2009 at 11:57 am

I love knits! You definitely don’t need a serger to sew them; just stretch as you sew and/or use a zigzag stitch.If you’re thinking a patch pocket situation use a woven for the pocket (stabilize the back side of the knit with a knit or tricot interfacing). This will give the pocket stability *and* allow to use a contrast fabric. Win-win!

Reply

Anonymous February 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

For fabrics that unravel really quickly just chalk on the pattern shape, cut out 2inches bigger and then serge to the chalk line. Easy Peasy

Reply

Anonymous February 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

I have this old Vogue pattern, 1279 (Geoffrey Beene) that I would love to make in this fabric. The only thing I would have to do is regrade the patten to a workable size and that…may…take…years. The good news is the dress on this pattern has pockets! In this case, just knowing this print exists in a jersey might get me motivated for the grading project.

Reply

Theresa February 3, 2009 at 7:48 am

Where is Erin…it’s been several days…

Reply

minya, warrior seamstress February 3, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I’d love this knit, but the last two items I made were skirts from two different fuschia paisley prints. I can’t justify more of it in my wardrobe.

Reply

indigotangerine February 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I love knits, but am not confident enough to sew with them. I think i’ve been reading this blog too much, the other day I had a dream about Liberty print.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: