Misc tips on sewing with knits

BS 09-2016-119

Like this structure? Preserve it. Here’s my approach to sewing knit fabrics.

  • First, I don’t just serge my knits together. Most serger threads have a lower tensile strength than all-purpose sewing thread, so they pull and break easily. And a serged seam is always sketchy, no one can combat the wave all the time. I sew all my seams on my machine, and then I serge the seams to finish. The result is a garment with structure and strength, nothing wavy going on (OK, I had to hang that preposition).
  • I don’t use a walking foot or an elastic (lightening) stitch on my sewing machine. I use a straight stitch with the upper thread adjusted to give me an even result. Also, I use a fairly long stitch. On my Singer Stylist, 3.0. BECAUSE a smaller stitch really tries to put more stitches in an inch…the result, it stretches the fabric to accommodate the stitches.
  • I don’t stretch my fabric as I sew. I let the machine’s feed feet take it forward, ensuring that the unstitched fabric layers are going evenly to the needle. hmmm. Yes, use those pins and light finger tips to guide the fabric. A little practice, and you can do this.

Here are some illustrations of the direction of my sewing on knits. Believe me, direction makes a huge difference with knits, particularly if they have any bias edge (most do). They all want to droop at the cut edges. If you sew down those edges, it will droop even more. And, have you noticed, one just doesn’t sew at the same tension going up and down a front edge. Beat that droop…


  • Side seams and neckline edges, a simple cardigan (this is the Tessuti Megan):


lineart 1

  • More complicated, attaching a band to a neckline edge (this is the Itch to Stitch Paro Cardigan):


  • And that critical element, attaching a collar (this is McCalls 7476 drop shoulder cardigan):

line art 2

By now you’ll see the similarity – stitch UP against the flow and use a lot of pins. Be gentle with the fabric, taking care not to pull it as it goes under the presser foot. Are you topstitching? take the direction into account.

BTW – I serge/finish seams the same way. Sergers tend to have a downward pull on the fabric. If I’m serging with abandon, I just make sure it’s in the ‘right’ direction so I don’t end up with something that’s 1″ longer on one side!! Yes, it means I have threads to tuck/tie/finish but that doesn’t bother me. It’s all sewing,  and I love sewing knits!!

Ciao – Coco

The stash – where did it go?

curly hair

This is one of those horrifying moments! I just haven’t been paying attention…and I’ve sewn myself down to NO fabric other than remnants. Aack!

I’ve been watching the season’s sales, but, now, having just ordered a new book, I want to wait and purchase for the patterns inside.

What a (nice) conundrum 🙂



Also, I know I will get Christmas $, and January will see a huge addition to the stash. Meanwhile, I don’t like this feeling!

Has this ever happened to you? sigh.  Coco


Wow – a tale of detergents!


Not my usual post. But I bought Arm and Hammer Sensitive Scent pods on a buy one/get one a few months ago. And I started to notice that my clothing smelled like I had just run a marathon!! It was driving me crazy and into the shower more than once a day. I finally figured out it might be my new detergent.


I’m back to All Free & Clear liquid, not pods, no smell, and I’ll never ever use anything else.


Of course, all my garments went back through the laundry, so compulsive, yes 🙂 Has this ever happened to you?

Ciao! Coco

Biting the bullet…they don’t work


A change of season always encourages me to look at my closet…

This fall is particularly difficult. I’ve made so many linen dresses and various pants this year. But, in honesty, I cannot wear linen or linen blends on my torso. Such sensitive skin. I actually break out, rash, yuck…

Plus, I have a few items that are in colors that just don’t appeal to me. Fuschia, magenta, beige – not my favorite palette. I prefer quieter, deeper colors now.

Time to get down to it. End game:

Linen blends are gone, along with a couple hacci and other knit cardigans that just itch me like crazy. I need room for fall and winter knits – maxis, cardigans, and pants that I will enjoy. BTW – I did rescue 3 long-sleeve cotton tunics, re-made with short sleeves, to wear with my knit pants. Good change, since I’ve hardly worn them with a longer sleeve.

Do you do this or am I the only nutsy person here?!




Buttons and buttonholes


I’m working on my True Bias Yari jumpsuit, and this morning hit a critical point. Buttons!


And buttonholes. I think the buttons are a focus for this pattern, and how well they work to purpose is critical. I decided to use 6 buttons, instead of 5. I never feel locked-in by button placements suggestions. What matters is how it works on me 🙂


After I decided on my button (which will be revealed with the post on the finished garment), I moved on to the buttonholes themselves.

I always put together a test piece, built exactly like the area in which I’ll put a buttonhole. Outside, interfacing, facing, edge-stitching, the whole ball of wax. For this garment, which I’m sewing in Essex linen, I decided on a rounded-end buttonhole, with a wider stitch (1) to add a little chunkiness (appearance) and (2) to protect the inherent loose weave of the linen (utility). At the same time, I tested the presser foot pressure (released for linen) and the upper thread tension (also released).


When I first starting using my Juki HZL F600, I ignored the optional footplate of the buttonhole presser foot. No more! It really helps the fabric glide, any fabric, and is a terrific option.


Last note on this: I never clip my threads on a buttonhole. Instead I take the front threads to the back and weave everything into the back buttonhole stitching. I just think loose, cut threads on the outside ruin a buttonhole. Finishing them only takes a little time.


Next up: the jumpsuit! Hope everyone enjoys a lovely weekend, Coco