Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crafty Gear 411: Sewing Knits Without A Serger


Today's Crafty Gear 411 isn't really about "gear" per se, but about technique.  Having the right info is just as good as the right tools in my book.  I often hear people lamenting about sewing with knits.  Not just from beginners, but also from those with years of sewing experience.   And many people think that sewing knits means you need a serger, which is a nice item to have, but not required.  Since I'm going to be sharing some new knit tutorials this week, I thought I'd share how I sew my knits.  Frustration-free and not requiring a serger!
Even the most basic sewing machines have the ability to sew a few overlock or knit stitches.  Consult your machine's manual for all your specific options, but this knit stitch is my personal favorite and found on most machines:
It produces a stitch that is especially flexible, so it works ideally for joining stretch fabrics - especially those with 4-way stretch.  Just sew with a decent sized seam allowance (like the usual 5/8 inch used in most patterns) and then to trim down the seam allowance with shears when done.  Just be careful not to clip the stitching!
I also find using nylon thread in the bobbin adds a little extra stretchability for seams that will be pulled a lot (like neck holes).  The trick is to hand wind it so the pliable thread isn't fully stretched taut on the bobbin.  It works like a charm!

For hemming knits my go-to stitch is really a go-to needle.  Twin needles are just what they're called, a  single shank that has two actual needles that stitch two rows of stitches parellel to one another.  It's fast, precise and easy.  

And like the aforementioned stitches, most basic sewing machines can accomodate a twin needle.  Both my Janome HD1000 and Brother SE400 machines came with twin needles and have simple set-up to thread two spools.  My Janome literally involves no extra steps other than looping the threads on opposite sides before threading the needles and no special stitch selection.  It's that easy!
While using a basic straight stitch for two perfect rows of stitching on the top side,
The reverse side is "knitting" the threads together in a zig-zag for more stretch.  Ideally you want it to be very close to the edge, but since knits don't fray, there's no worry of unraveling.   And it's totally ok to leave that raw edge exposed (or just trim it down with shears when done).  So much easier than double folding a hem and much less bulky too.  It also gives a nice professional looking finish to sleeve, shirt and skirt hems.
I'll be showing how to use these techniques to construct some fun summer items this week (DIY rashguards & swimwear anyone??).  So get ready to say so long to any fears & frustrations and hello to loving sewing with knits!

Sharing this with my FAVE LINK PARTIES too-
Click HERE to check them out!

23 comments:

  1. Great info! I have a SE400 as well and I've never even gotten out my twin needle. I will now! Thanks!

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  2. This post could not have come at a better time! I decided this morning that I was going to hem a bunch of onesies into t-shirts. I got on the computer to see the best way to hem them and this was waiting for me!

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    1. I love when things work out like that!! So glad this came in handy at the perfect moment:)

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  3. I am so excited to read the rest of your tips. I am one of those who is scared of the thought of sewing knits & doesn't own a serger. I do have a little one thought and being able to make some knit dresses would be awesome! Thank you so much for sharing!!

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  4. This is really fabulous! I just found some knits on super sale and I thought I'd dive in and give them a try (sans serger.) I am so excited that I haven't begun this new project yet so I can apply your tips!! Thanks! :)

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  5. Cheryl ~ Excellent post ~ very creative ~ am a new follower on GFCthanks, ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

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  6. Great tutorial!! TFS!! I always love how your sewing machine can take care of almost everything in case your serger goes wonky LOL Have a great weekend!! Stopping by from Truly Lovely's linky party and I stopped by yours earlier this week :-) Have a great weekend.

    JIC, this is what I shared: http://craftybrooklynarmywife.blogspot.ca/2012/06/kids-roll-up-nap-blanket.html

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    1. Couldn't agree more Alisha! Can't wait to see what you link up next:)

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  7. All I can say is "YaY" I didn't know about this and can't wait to repurpose some knits. Thank you so much.

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    1. Glad to help Debbie and please link up what you make to the Craftastic Monday party - I'd love to see what you create!

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  8. WOW! What a great tutorial! We would LOVE for you to stop over and link this post up and any others in our Crafty Showcase. Our showcase runs from Sat-Thur and then on Friday our designers pick their favorite to be featured.

    Stop on over and share! We even have a linky for ETSY and Crafty Businesses. http://bowdabrablog.com/2012/06/09/saturday-showcase-craft-projects-5/#

    Thanks, Susie @Bowdabra

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  9. You just rocked my world with this little tid bit! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. xo

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  10. Looks like your machine has lots of great stitches. Thank you for your demo and tips, and...

    Thank you for linking it up at our party at http://www.FineCraftGuild.com .
    We'll have "Featured"- projects + a whole new round of entries tomorrow, Wednesday! See you then!

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  11. I am always hesitant to sew on knits, but I can't wait to try this method. Thanks for the tip!

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  12. I have a Janome Memory Craft 3000. Is that true for all Janome machines that you need to thread them with the threads on opposite sides? I have tried a double needle, and have had horrible luck. And reading the instruction manual hasn't helped. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. Yes, there's a needle bar thread guide on either side above the needle, so one thread needs to go in each. And you're right the manuals for these are no help at all. Sometimes you may need to adjust the thread or bobbin tension a bit too - so definitely do some stitches on a scrap first. Hopefully this will help you:)

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  13. These are such great tips Cheryl!! Thanks for linking up - I featured you today! http://www.flamingotoes.com/2012/06/crush-of-the-week-think-pink-features-54/

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  14. I'm going to try to hem my new Yoga pants after reading this. I know I have a twin needle but have never ventured out of my comfort zone to try and use it. Thanks!

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    1. That's how I was Maimee and now I can't imagine not using it!

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  15. Hi! I found you on pinterest. I'm working on leggings for everyone and I'm going to try out that crazy zig zag stitch to see if it improves things...the first pair came out cute, but some of the hems weren't stretchy enough :(

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    1. I learned a lot of this the hard way from sewing knits as though they were wovens and getting bad results. I've found another stitch option that works great since writing this post. More info on that can be found here: http://www.sewcando.com/2013/06/purr-fectly-easy-applique-method-for.html. I'm planning on doing another post with even more info & tips on sewing knits without a serger in a few weeks so stay tuned:)

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