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Working with knit Fabric

fabricmaven | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello all, I would like some input from someone with experience sewing with knits. I am working with Vogue 8379. A Diane Von Furstenburg type wrap dress which calls for a moderate stretch knit. I’ve altered the pattern to fit my measurements and laundered the fabric. My question is how do you establish the grain? You can’t pull a thread on knit fabric the way you can on a woven. I have bought knit apparel that was not cut on grain and it never hangs right after it is laundered. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Most knit fabrics are actually knit in the round, and then cut apart to create selvedge edges. So when you even up the selvedges, you get a ripple down the folded edge. Fortunately, knits are actually rather forgiving, and you can cut slightly off grain, and it doesn't make a whole lot of difference. A lot off grain and it does, but that is the beauty of working with knits, if you have to fudge the pattern placement a bit to make them fit better, you can. So do not worry about being too exact. :)
    Best bet for finding the grain is to match up the selvedges best as you can, then smooth out the fold. You will find the selvedge edges will mis-align slightly, one down and one up a bit, but that is ok. Just double check that the run of the stitching (the rib or knit stitching line in the fabric is fairly straight in both directions.) Check from the folded edge your straight of grain placement.
    If your knit is still tubular, lucky you! Just refold the tube so the folded edges are in the middle of the fabric, and the new folds become the folds on your CF and CB. This prevents any permanent fold or fade marks down the front or back of your garment. The fabric will then be on grain.
    When you lay out your fabric, let it rest a while to relax back to shape before pinning. This also makes sure there is no distortion after handling. This is more of a concern with the really stretchy stuff.
    Knits are usually cut with the most stretch going around the body. Some knits have more stretch going in the lengthwise grain of the knit than the crosswise grain(spandex or lycra blends, and 4 way stretch fabrics), so always check the direction of stretch before laying out your pattern to accommodate the direction of stretch. You do not want your garment to grow in length by accident. Good luck and have fun! Cathy

    1. fabricmaven | | #2

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I've printed out your advice and will refer to it often during the cutting process. Geesh, all I want is a wrap dress.

      1. woodruff | | #3

        If you type Vogue pattern 8379 into a google search, you will quickly see among them a number of reviews by people who have made this dress. It comes out nicely, and those who made it often include their tips for working with knits.

        1. fabricmaven | | #4

          Thanks so much. I will definitely check that out.

      2. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #5

        Sounds rather more complicated than it really is! Knits are a lot of fun and forgiving to sew with, once you get the hang of working with the differences from sewing with woven fabrics. Knits are very fluid fabrics, but do not let that scare you. Once you start, it is hard to go back.... Your dress will sew up in no time, with no seam finishes to worry about, and the built in ease makes fitting a snap. :) Cathy

        1. fabricmaven | | #6

          Thanks, I cut out the pattern last night and look forward to finally just sew the dress. All of you have been very helpful.


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