A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics: An Introduction

beginners guide to sewing with knits

Well at long last, here is the book I’ve been wanting to write since 2013 and how chuffed I am to be writing this for my first blog post of 2018!!

My proposal for A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics has seen the insides of numerous UK publishers and agents and I’d pretty much given up on it ever seeing the light of day; continually being told – “It’s too specialist.” “It’s too niche.” “It won’t sell enough copies.” I had even started to write it to self publish, but then I moved to Cico and after the success of A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts they decided it was time!! So, here’s a bit more about the book and how it came to life. Enjoy…..

I meet lots of dressmakers, both new and experienced, who are nervous of sewing with knitted fabrics, thanks in part to them often being found in the “difficult fabric” or “special fabric” sections of some sewing books. I think this reputation is unjustified as knits aren’t as difficult to sew as you might have been led to believe; you just have to know the best way to handle them and no, an overlocker or serger is not essential. Certainly an overlocker can speed things along, but don’t rush out and buy one just to sew knits—your domestic sewing machine can cope.

In A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics, alongside projects and patterns for six core garments with multiple variations, you will get:

  • a guide to all the different types of knitted fabrics, what they’re like to work with and wear and how to choose the best fabric for your project
  • a knitted fabric shopping checklist
  • how to prepare knits for making clothes – including washing, drying, laying out and cutting
  • how to set up your sewing machine to sew knits
  • which needles you need to sew knits
  • how to sew seams, hems and finish edges in knits on your regular sewing machine
  • special treatments for knits including; different ways to use elastic and taping seams
  • a comprehensive glossary of knitted fabrics and fibres.

As well as all this, I’ll share with you lots of tips that I’ve picked up during my twenty-six year adventure of sewing with knits!

While working as a designer in the fashion industry, I spent four years at a loungewear company designing clothing from organic fair-trade cotton, specifically for wearing during yoga practice that was stocked in Harrods. The research I undertook while creating those garments, and the hands-on experience of working for a small company in which I not only did the design but also the pattern cutting and working directly with factories on production, left me with a love of working with knitted fabrics. It also felt like I’d come full circle as the first collection I ever produced as an 18-year-old student, was a knitted fabrics sportswear collection made entirely on my domestic sewing machine!The Yogawear collection I designed that was stocked in Harrods.

Whether you’re new to sewing or a more experienced dressmaker who has developed “knit-phobia,” you will be able to make a garment confidently with knitted fabric using this book. Many of my students sew with knits, often for their first ever dressmaking projects, and they all love the end results. After all, if you think of the clothes that you wear most often and that are the most comfortable, usually they’re made from knitted fabrics.

I love sewing knitted fabrics and they always result in the most comfortable, wearable garments that usually become my go-to wardrobe favorites. I hope you’ll soon feel that way too!

To give you a bit of an insight into how the book came about and why I wrote it, here’s some of the interview I did recently for Love Sewing Magazine:

Tell us, what inspired the book?

I designed yoga and leisurewear for a small ethical clothing brand before I started teaching, so I’ve spent a lot of time working with knitted fabrics.  When I started to teach dressmaking I was surprised that there weren’t many patterns available for knits.  Lots of my students were enjoying using my patterns for knits in classes and so in 2012 I launched MIY Collection sewing patterns – many of which are for knitted fabrics.  I was also surprised to find in my teaching how many people scared were scared of sewing with knits, but quickly encouraged by the number of students who once they tried, got great results, even on just a domestic sewing machine. It was in 2013 (even before my first book “Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking”) that I started to put together ideas for a book purely about sewing knitted fabrics based on my industry experience and experience gained from teaching home dressmakers how to sew with knits. I’m so happy it’s now finally here!!

Why do you think knit fabric can sometimes intimidate sewists?

I think it probably started with the reputation knitted fabrics were given in older sewing books as “difficult” fabric to work with.  Most sewing patterns are designed for woven fabrics and a lot of sewists have got used to working with fabrics like quilting cotton that are very easy to work with and don’t move around much.  Up until recently there also seemed to be a popular myth that you needed an overlocker to sew knits, which was another barrier for people that didn’t want to invest in another machine.

What’s your favourite project from the book and why?

Oh my gosh that’s like asking me to choose my favourite pet! I genuinely love all the projects in the book and have worn all of the samples a lot – perk of the job!! But if pushed I suppose I’d pick the Kinder Cardigan.  I’d been wanting to create a jacket-like, really simple cardigan for a long time and this one was exactly what I’d been imagining and was exactly the gap I had in my own wardrobe!!  I’ve worn my samples almost daily during the colder months – with our UK weather who doesn’t need a cardi (or 2!)? The Kinder is a really great introduction to working with knitted fabrics, my students are already making loads and there are lots of ways to make it your own by adding contrast panels.

Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knits

What is your top tip for sewing with knit fabrics?

Choosing the right needle is key to avoiding a lot of frustration when sewing with knits. If you’re getting skipped stitches and tangles with a ballpoint or jersey needle, switch to a stretch needle. The scarf (the groove above the eye of the needle) on a stretch needle is different to other ballpoint needles and allows it to travel through the fabric more smoothly. Also make sure you choose the right fabric for your project; knitted fabric is a huge category including fabrics as diverse as fine silk jersey to bulky sweater knits and fabrics can also vary hugely in the amount they stretch (and recover).  The book contains some easy to follow checklists for choosing the right fabric for your project that I developed after seeing students in my classes struggling with fabric choices.

What can we look forward to from you over the next few months?

I’m hoping that I’ll soon be able to release a new MIY Collection pattern, it’s based on a pattern I first drafted back in 2005! Good job all my patterns don’t that long to develop! I’m also starting to focus on more considered, sustainable and thoughtful sewing through my writing and hopefully some in-person events. I’m also teaching a few limited workshops based around the book in the new year.

To keep up to date with MIY Collection developments, sign-up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/EVEYj

Over the next 8 days I’m going to share with you a bit more about different aspects of the book, starting tomorrow with a post about the history of sewing with knits; from Coco Chanel to Studio 54!

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14 responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics: An Introduction

  1. Congrats? How exciting! I too believe there is a misconception about knit fabrics in the sewing community. Thank you for your contributions and patience in getting published so that we can learn more accurately about knit fabrics and how to work with them!

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  2. I have ordered your book and can’t wait for it to arrive. I have your first book and have made the shift dress 3 times now I get lovely comments whenever I wear them I haven’t been sewing long but this book makes sewing so easy. I have also got your skirt book which I plan to use next week. Your books have given me the confidence to make clothes and more importantly wear them with pride thank you xx
    Jane

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    • What a lovely comment to read Jane, thanks so much and I’m really happy to hear what an impact my first 2 books have had for you. I hope you’ll enjoy the new book just as much! Happy sewing and wearing. Wendy

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  3. Pingback: A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics: Techniques / Guides / Resources | Wendy Ward

  4. This sounds like a great book. I also put off sewing with knits because my old machine did not get along with them. I’m still learning but no longer intimidated.

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  5. I’m looking forward to this book! I find the shopping and prepping the hardest bits, so will read the book from cover to cover several times before embarking on more knitted fabric shopping.

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  6. I’m super excited about this book. I love knit fabrics and having s collection of patterns to choose from will be awesome. I’m really looking forward to the kimono pattern I spied!

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  7. Looking forward to reading more about it! I love the book and feel so privileged that I got to make something pre release. I don’t think it is too niche, knits are essential for a me made wardrobe ! ☺

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