How the pros make cute embellished tees

I do a lot of tee makeovers and upcycles here, and I love to copy store-bought tees, but rarely do I make one from scratch using knit fabric.  I hate sewing on knits--it's kinda hard, and always more frustrating than sewing on simple woven cotton!  I've learned a few tips and tricks white doing my tee refashions and reading other bloggers' projects, but I still generally avoid using knits.  I've literally made... three knit garments in my life.  Seriously.  And usually, I didn't do things a whole lot differently than I would have with a woven garment or store-bought tee, depending on the project.  But I got an email from CraftStylish about this tutorial for replicating a decorated tee (some of you may have received it, too) and I thought I should share with you how the pros over there recommend you go about it.  If you're interested in really doing it right and learning how to make your own tees, do check out this feature on CraftStylish. At first it's intimidating, since there are about a million steps in the process, and I don't always do all of them, but the tee they make does turn out looking really good!  I think in the case of sewing on knits, it pays to follow the rules.
What do you think?  How have you learned to sew on knits, or do you avoid them altogether?

12 comments

  1. I love knits! They are a challenge to sew, especially if you don't have the right tools. A serger is a big help and the biggest tip I can offer is to use a double needle for hems and topstiching. Now having said that, I don't often sew plain t-shirts because I can often find them so inexpensively at retail prices and I can't always find good quality knit fabrics here in Canada. If anyone has some mail order sources for knits, please send my way.

    Christiana
    sewamusing.blogpspot.com

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  2. I really like knit fabric and am glad it's making a come back! Would love to have a serger to make sewing a little easier, but that's later down the road.

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  3. I've often read people saying how hard knits are to sew, and I don't get it? Maybe I just have a low threshold for perfection, but I don't mind knits, and I think they are easy and somewhat forgiving! I made a knit dress for my daughter (copy of those classic Lands End play dresses) and instead of hemming the sleeves and bottom I zigged them for a flutter finish. She loves it and it was so easy!

    I haven't bought from them yet but the Fabric Fairy www.thefabricfairy.com seems to have a HUGE selection of very cute knits, especially for kids.

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  4. I JUST made a ringer-style knit shirt for the first time, from measuring to making the pattern, to cutting, to sewing, it took an hour TOPS. Sooooo easy! Will be posting a tutorial in the next week or so! (and I didn't use a serger - like you said, sometimes it works best just to sew it as if it were a woven)

    fabric.com, hartsfabric.com, and chezami.com have good knits too.

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  5. Oooh, I really struggle with them. I so want to be good at sewing with them, and I don't find the knitted aspect of them hard to sew with, it's more working out the degree of stretchiness to factor into the pattern. - I never get it quite right. Oh, and remembering that the stretchy bit is best going across the arm or body, rather than down it (my one knit fabric top that actually looked perfect and came together easily, was ruined by it having no stretch at all...unless I suddenly grew taller, in which case it would have been perfect and accommodated plenty of new growth).

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  6. I sewed on knits and they were always just alright. Then I took a class on swimsuits and I love knits! I just use a stretch stitch. I'm not sure what it's called but it goes back and forth and across, and it looks like a straight stitch on the outside, not a zigzag stitch. I always use a stretch needle too and found that made all the difference.

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  7. I've made many knit garments throughout my sewing life: bathing suits, underwear, lingerie, t-shirts, yadda yadda. The KEY is a ball point (or stretch, as Heather mentioned) needle. It really will make ALL the difference.

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  8. Anonymous6/25/2010

    Anyone can sew knits with their sewing machine. It is much easier to sew knits with a serger, but a sewing machine will do just fine. I would not use a overlock stitch from the machine, as they tend to overstretch the knit as you sew it, creating a wave. A zigzag stitch is the best stitch to sew ANY knit, and I must echo Heather Feather, use a ballpoint or stretch needle. Yes-yes...the stretch of the knit has to be across your body! Always test stitching on the same fabric that you will be sewing with until you get the correct size zigzag. It really does work, and it is so much fun to make your own t-shirts!!! One last thing when choosing your knit fabric, find cotton or rayon with 3-5% lycra, spandex, elastine, or whatever the stretch is good. I found anything with alot of polyester is way too hot!! happy sewing!!!!!

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  9. i actually LOVE working with knits! :) i find it a lot easier to work with- mind you- i don't make anything too complicated- jsut simple dresses and skirts.

    i took 1 knit sewing class and realized i loved it- cos well, it was so much easier to drape, draft a pattern, sew and it actually fit! i do not fit the regular size 8 forms that they seem to love to use at schools- so when i was able to fit something i draped from the form- i was so happy- lord knows i need a bit of stretch! :)

    i'm trying to get used to sewing wovens- as i usually end up just getting frustrated- cos after draping, i make a pattern, then i have to resize everything to try to make it fit me... argh!!! it's soemthing i have to get used to i suppose. :)

    -Zinnia

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  10. Well, I was going to say I haven't attempted knits because they kind of scare me. After reading all these comments I think I will! Thanks for the tips girls! Also, I'm going to keep my eye out for sewing classes in the area, I'm sure I have plenty to learn!

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  11. You all have such great comments and tips!! I think I need to open my mind to sewing with knits, cuz it sounds like it's not as much of a pain as I thought it was!

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  12. I love sewing with knits! They sew up super fast and I really get good use out of them - I use lightning stich to sew and stretch (L-shaped) to hem on my normal Brother NS-20 sewing machine. No special feet required XD

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