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How to Sew a Sweater

Threads magazine - 146 – Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010

Hand-knit sweaters are wonderful, but if you aren’t a knitter or you’re strapped for time, you can still create gorgeous sweaters by using your sewing skills on purchased knit fabric. Sweater knits are available in a variety of weights, textures, and fibers that translate beautifully into fashionable garments. You can find versions with dimensional stitches, jacquard designs, cables, textured tweed effects, and lacy openwork stitches—each one beautiful and begging to become the sweater of your dreams.

Like other knits, sweater knits mold to the body without the need for complicated construction. As a long-time sewer, I find it liberating to shape a two-dimensional fabric to fit a three-dimensional body with minimal effort. But working with these stretchy, sometimes open-weave, knits calls for the testing of every construction step on scrap fabric.

To shorten your learning curve, I’ll share a few secrets for working with these bulky, stretchy, fluffy, and sometimes unstable fabrics. Start by choosing a suitable pattern, test your sewing techniques, and plan ahead for professional-looking, long-wearing hems and edge finishes. (In the next issue, I’ll tell you about bindings, ribbing, and closures.) With careful handling, sweater knits can become cardigans, jackets, coats, and tops that rival top designer brands in quality and style at a much more affordable price.

Choose patterns with style

sew a sweater
Craving designer knitwear? For a knitwear? For a knitwear? fraction of the price, you can sew it yourself. Here, a modified Vogue 1020 pattern produced a cardigan from a multicolored knit from EmmaOneSock.com.

When you’re selecting a garment style for a sweater knit, consider the fabric’s weight, drape, and amount of stretch. Sweater knits vary from quite stretchy to quite stable; it all depends on the combination of stitch, fiber content, and gauge.

With so much variety in…

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Sewing With Knits

Sewing With Knits

Create your own comfortable, stylish clothing in stretchy fabrics.

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Get to Know Knit Fabrics
Construction Tips for Knits
Designing with Knits
Knit Projects