How to Choose the Best Knit Fabric for Your Project

on February 25 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips | by | with 4 Comments

Heather and the rest of the Girl Charlee Fabrics team are here to fill you in on the characteristics of different kind of knit fabrics. You’ll now have the (knowledge) power to select the best knit fabric for any project! Girl Charlee Fabrics specializes in knits, with unique selections of the highest quality cotton lycra, spandex solids, cotton jersey, rayon blends plus other specialty knits. They also offer their own designs in the Girl Charlee Fabrics Collection, a wide variety of patterns, specialty woven fabric, twill and denim fabric, vegan leather and more!

Do you have tips for selecting the right knits? Add your thoughts in the comments! Looking for a project utilizing knits or for sewing advice about working with knits? We have it all!

The most common question we receive from customers over email and across social media is, “What knit fabric is the best for my project?” If there is one thing we know well at Girl Charlee Fabrics, it’s knits, so we are always happy to help provide assistance for selecting the most suitable knit fabric for the intended use. There are a lot of guides out there on what knit fabrics are, how they are made and how to sew them. In this post we are going to concentrate on the characteristics of the different kinds of knits, and based on their distinct behavior how to use them best.

There is a wide range of knit fabrics available that are perfect for sewing up many different everyday wardrobe items. T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, dresses, tops, pants, bathing suits… Even underwear! Below you will find the most popular types of knit fabrics, their characteristics and the best projects for each type of knit fabric. Enjoy!

Cotton Jersey Knits:

Cotton jersey knit fabrics are usually 100% cotton, or blended with other fibers such as polyester or rayon. 100% cotton jersey, being fully comprised of cotton, provides a more sturdy hand as there is only a minimal, mechanical stretch due to the knitting process. Cotton jersey blend knit fabrics with polyester or rayon content provide a more fluid hand and drape, and additional stretch. Both types of jersey knit can range in thickness from light weight, to medium weights, so it is very important to pay attention to that when selecting the right knit for your project. For example, a light weight rayon jersey knit would not be suitable for a pair of pants that require more stability and structure than is found in a 100% cotton jersey knit.

Jersey knit fabrics are very universal as they have stability, and smaller stretch percentages than something like a cotton spandex knit; you can use them in a variety of sewing patterns designed for both knits and woven fabrics. T-shirts, tank tops, dresses, skirts, blouses and so much more can be sewn up with this fabric! We do recommend staying away from patterns with too much structure or complicated darting, zippers, etc.

Cotton Spandex Knits:

Also known as cotton lycra, cotton spandex knit is a knit fabric that has a greater amount of stretch due to the spandex or lycra fiber content blend. These types of fabrics usually have a four-way stretch, making them excellent for “bottom weight” applications due to their stretch and recovery properties. Cotton spandex knit fabrics also come in blends with rayon and other fibers that give a more loose, drapey hand while still providing good stretch and recovery.

Cotton spandex knits are very versatile for use in sewing both tops and bottoms, including leggings, undergarments, socks and so much more. When selecting the right cotton spandex knit for your sewing pattern it is very important to pay attention to the amount of stretch required for the pattern. If the fabric has too much stretch you will not get the desired result from your garment, and too little stretch will also cause problems.

Hacci Sweater Knits:

Sweater knits, also known as Hacci, vary by having a more loopy, open-knit texture than regular cotton knit fabrics, to being almost the same feel and characteristics as regular jersey knits. This makes them very versatile. A lot of people hear “sweater knits” and assume that they are like a wool sweater, but Hacci knits are usually made of blends of cotton, polyester or spandex. Best of all is that they are wrinkle resistant, and sew up just like regular knits!

Hacci sweater knits of the more drapey and open weave variety are excellent for making sweaters, cardigans, scarves, hats, gloves, socks, as well as trendy flowing tops, skirts and dresses. Use Hacci sweater knits of tighter, jersey style weaves for anything you would use a jersey knit for!

Ponte de Roma Knits:

Ponte de Roma knit fabrics are a double knit fabric usually made of a cotton, rayon, and spandex blend of fibers. Ponte knits are very stable and usually of a good mid-weight, making them very easy to sew. Ponte de Roma fabrics resist wrinkles and creases, and have a soft hand and good stretch. They have a slight horizontal texture to the surface of the fabric that gives them a very polished and high-end look. Keep in mind that Ponte de Roma is a double knit polyester blend fabric, so select an application that is appropriate. For example, leggings made from Ponte de Roma may pill where the legs rub together as that is the nature of the synthetic blend content of the fabric.

Projects to sew with Ponte de Roma knits include many wardrobe staple pieces like jackets, dresses, pencils skirts and pants. Ponte de Roma can also be used to make infinity scarves and other accessories, and work well when blended in use with cotton spandex knits. Sewing patterns designed for woven fabrics requiring more advanced techniques can be used with Ponte de Roma, but just make sure you select a Ponte that does not have spandex content, as it will provide too much stretch.

Happy Sewing!

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4 Responses to How to Choose the Best Knit Fabric for Your Project

  1. […]  Knits are one of my favorite substrates to work with and this post from the ladies at Girl Charlee on Sew, Mama, Sew is fantastic for helping to choose the right knit […]

  2. Jamie says:

    Good to know! I’ve used a few Girl Charlee jersey knits and been happy with them! Always wondered what the Hacci knits are:)

  3. Lindsay in Iowa says:

    So helpful! I love girl charlee but was hesitant to try the sweater knit because I wasn’t sure what it’d be like!

  4. Amruta says:

    Nice and detailed information about Knits. Thank you.

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