How should we choose the knit fabric?

I need to say, the most common question we receive from customers over email and across social media is, “What knit fabric is the best for my project?” we are always happy to help provide assistance for selecting the most suitable knit fabric for the intended use. There are a lot of guides out there on what knit fabrics are, how they are made and how to sew them. In this post we are going to concentrate on the characteristics of the different kinds of knits, and based on their distinct behavior how to use them best.

There is a wide range of knit fabrics available that are perfect for sewing up many different everyday wardrobe items. T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, dresses, tops, pants, bathing suits… Even underwear! Below you will find the most popular types of knit fabrics, their characteristics and the best projects for each type of knit fabric. Enjoy!

Cotton Jersey Knits:

Cotton jersey knit fabrics are usually 100% cotton, or blended with other fibers such as polyester or rayon. 100% cotton jersey, being fully comprised of cotton, provides a more sturdy hand as there is only a minimal, mechanical stretch due to the knitting process. Cotton jersey blend knit fabrics with polyester or rayon content provide a more fluid hand and drape, and additional stretch. Both types of jersey knit can range in thickness from light weight, to medium weights, so it is very important to pay attention to that when selecting the right knit for your project. For example, a light weight rayon jersey knit would not be suitable for a pair of pants that require more stability and structure than is found in a 100% cotton jersey knit.

Jersey knit fabrics are very universal as they have stability, and smaller stretch percentages than something like a cotton spandex knit; you can use them in a variety of sewing patterns designed for both knits and woven fabrics. T-shirts, tank tops, dresses, skirts, blouses and so much more can be sewn up with this fabric! We do recommend staying away from patterns with too much structure or complicated darting, zippers, etc.

Cotton Spandex Knits:

Also known as cotton lycra, cotton spandex knit is a knit fabric that has a greater amount of stretch due to the spandex or lycra fiber content blend. These types of fabrics usually have a four-way stretch, making them excellent for “bottom weight” applications due to their stretch and recovery properties. Cotton spandex knit fabrics also come in blends with rayon and other fibers that give a more loose, drapey hand while still providing good stretch and recovery.

Cotton spandex knits are very versatile for use in sewing both tops and bottoms, including leggings, undergarments, socks and so much more. When selecting the right cotton spandex knit for your sewing pattern it is very important to pay attention to the amount of stretch required for the pattern. If the fabric has too much stretch you will not get the desired result from your garment, and too little stretch will also cause problems.

Swim Knits:

Some swimwear fabric is very shiny and slippery on one side, and matte on the other. This type of fabric is still suitable for sewing swimwear, though you will notice more stretch than the matte variety. That much stretch makes these fabrics a bit less stable to work with. The enhanced stretch will also affect the sizing of your swimsuit, so keep this in mind as you sew.

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