This week I finally took the plunge into the intimidating world of sewing with knits. I’m here to share the wisdom I gained from the experience, and to tell you that it’s not even 1/100th as scary as I thought it would be. It’s non-scary, and it’s addicting—hence my newly sewn collection of three knit Geranium shirt-dresses!
LET US PAUSE.
I die over and over again for these sweet, sweet TOOTSIES! I had no idea my baby snuck her feet into my shot until I was looking through pictures later, which made for the most delightful discovery in photo-editing history.
Here’s the list I kept of what I did differently from when I sewed these dresses with quilting cotton. It’s all the stuff that makes knit-sewing bearable (even enjoyable!). I:
- Sized down
- Used the walking foot on my machine
- Used a jersey needle
- Sewed every seam with a “lightning” stitch, as I called it because of how it looks (I think it’s officially called a stretch stitch)
- Note: I top-stitched with a straight stitch on two of the dresses’ necklines, but in the future I’ll stick with the lightning stitch. With knits, you want your seams and finishes to stretch and maintain that great flexibility that gives them their comfiness. The straight stitch has no give to it, so not only will it take away that comfy factor, but its rigidity will make it more liable to break if you *do* stretch your fabric.
- Used the dental floss method for gathers—I know it sounds bizarre, but this is the best sewing trick I’ve learned in years
- Finished hems by serging the edges then folding over once and top-stitching (instead of doing double-fold hems)
- Sewed on the pockets without encasing the edges. Since knits don’t fray, I just ironed the pockets in half, wrong sides together, and sewed the pockets right onto the skirt, raw edges exposed and all. Suzy’s Bohemian Garden quilt showed me how this is 100% okay. Actually, most of what I learned about sewing with knits I learned from Suzy’s series of posts during the making of her Bohemian Garden quilt.
I also saved myself a bunch of time by not transferring any of the pattern markings onto my fabric, since I realized after making these previously that I didn’t use a single one.
I sewed these with the lining like in the pattern, but Audrey from Hot Pink Quilts told me she made some Geraniums without the lining and finished the neck and arm holes with bias binding. I was too chicken to try it this time around but with three of these babies now under my belt I’m definitely taking Audrey’s advice and making un-lined versions next time. And I’ll keep using snaps instead of buttons since they’re both easier to install and easier to use.
As with my previous dresses, I made matching Tea Party bloomers, but for now I only have one pair because I ran out of elastic. The other two pairs will have to wait a few days.
Funnily enough, I sewed these in the newborn size for my now one-year-old. The newborn dresses I originally made her still fit as tops, plus she’s quite small for her age, plus I think the pattern runs large, which means that by the time I sized down to account for the stretchy knit fabric, I was back to newborn size. And I didn’t make them dress length because then she couldn’t crawl around in them. So these little dresses are worn like tops and fit her perfectly! Small but mighty, this darling of mine.