The Wonderful World of Knits

I have several friends who also sew, and one thing I’ve heard over and over is how terrified people are to sew with knits. Raise your hand if this is you… It used to be me too, but not anymore. I LOVE knit fabric, and the possibilities are endless as to what you can create. I haven’t sewn with knits for long, but in the past 6 months I’ve learned a lot and want to share it with you.

Don’t be afraid!

Seriously, if you can sew with cotton fabric, you can sew with knit. I recommend (if you haven’t already), invest in a quality cutting mat, rotary cutter, and straight edge. These are really musts for anybody who sews, but especially with knits. Depending on what I’m making, I need to change my rotary blade often, and that’s OK. I love my serger for sewing with knits, but it isn’t a must. I promise, it’s addicting and you won’t regret purchasing one. I have the Brother 1034D, and it was less than $200 on Amazon. Prime shipping will get one to your door in 48 hours or less. 😉

Different types of knits

Jersey knit is sort of a generic term for the stretchy fabric that t-shirts and leggings are made out of, but there are different types of knits and they’re used for different things.

  • Cotton/Lycra blend- often called 95/5 (95% cotton, 5% lycra or spandex) is my favorite. It has excellent stretch and recovery and I use it whenever possible. It is great for pants for kids and grownups too.
  • Sweatshirt Fleece- just what it sounds like. It’s fuzzy on the back and is what sweatshirts and sweatpants are made out of.
  • Hacci Sweater Knit- unlike the sweatshirt knit, this is not like a typical sweater fabric. It’s thin and silky. I’ve used it for children’s clothing before, but it’s great for scarves or women’s tops.
  • Interlock- a variation of rib knit construction. Double knit constructions makes it a thicker fabric with a tight weave. It’s a great fabric to start with if knits make you nervous.

Quality fabric is worth the price

I’ve sewn with a lot of different types of fabrics from a lot of different suppliers, and the one thing I learned is that there is a reason cheap fabric is cheap. Something else to remember when buying any type of knit fabric is that you get a lot more per yard than typical fabrics, so take that into consideration when looking at the price. Normal jersey fabric is 58″ to 60″ wide. When making children’s pants, I can usually get 4 pairs of pants out of a yard of fabric, so it goes a long way.

The secret world of custom fabric

I’m part of several Facebook groups that pertain to sewing and embroidery. I was always seeing people post pictures of children’s items they crated with super cute fabrics that I could not find in stores. I recently unlocked the secret, and today I’m sharing that secret with you. There are Facebook groups for custom knit fabrics. I’m a member of at least a dozen, probably more, and then there are B/S/T (buy, sell, trade) groups for those groups too. These groups offer pre-sales of fabrics, offering them at usually $20 a yard. Once the pre-sale closes, the fabrics are printed, and then in 6-8 weeks they show up at your door. Don’t want to wait that long? That’s where the B/S/T groups come into play, BUT you will pay more for these fabrics later. I’ve seen some fabrics going as high as $100 a yard, but usually there is a 25% to 50% markup. The great thing about the B/S/T pages is that people offer FHs (FH stands for fat half, and it’s a half yard cut longways, so approximately 30″ by 36″), and you can get great fabrics for cheaper prices. A great place to start is the Knit Destash group on Facebook. Go check it out!

Working with a pattern

I love making clothes for my son. Trust me when I say that it’s worth it to pay money for a great pattern. Here are some of my favorite pattern shops!

I hope that this was helpful and inspires you to take the plunge. Here is a pic of Zac with his new Big Hero 6 pajamas. Shirt is raglan tee pattern from Brindle & Twig, pants are maxaloones, and the fabric is from Sew Cute Fabrics on Facebook.

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DIY fabric lampshade

I am almost embarrassed at how easy this is to do, and am questioning if this is blog worthy. But, a few years ago I didn’t realize this was possible, so maybe I can inspire someone else out there. In the summer of 2011, I was pregnant with my son. His nursery is decorated in sock monkeys. I spent that summer making his crib bedding and decorating his nursery before I returned to teaching in the fall. As I was adding the finishing touches to his room, I decided I wanted a sock monkey lamp. Now, I’m sure today that would be easy to find, but a few years ago, sock monkeys weren’t as abundant as they are today. I’d like to think I inspired their comeback, but that probably isn’t the case. Anyhow, I had leftover fabric from his quilt, and decided, “what the heck”. Searching the craft aisle at Walmart, I came across this-

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Messy? YES! But, it does the job, and 3 years later, his lampshade still looks as good as new.

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OK, back to the current project. Thanks to winning the “end of bolt JACKPOT” at fabric.com, I had extra of the aqua paisley fabric used for the throw pillows on the bed. I purchased the lamp base ($19.99) and the shade ($9.99) from Lowes.

First, I ironed the fabric to remove the wrinkles, and then I layer that flat on my work surface and put the shade in the middle. I used 2 clothes pins to make sure that the fabric would fit around the shade and all areas would be covered. Then, I sprayed a small section of the shade with the spray adhesive and used my hand to press the fabric secure. I worked my way around the shade until the ends of the fabric were almost touching.

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Next, I cut one side even and sprayed that down flat. Then, I carried the whole thing over to my ironing board and ironed the second end to hide the raw edge. On my son’s lamp I didn’t do this, and it looks fine, but I wanted this to look a little nicer. When the edge was ironed, I sprayed that down.

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Next, I cut around the top of the lampshade leaving between .5 and 1 inch clearance. Once that was cut, I sprayed in sections and folded that edge over. I repeated the process for the bottom of the shade, again leaving between .5 and 1 inch. Not sure why, but this is where my hands got REALLY messy.

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FYI- soap did nothing to get the mess off my hands. I ended up putting some rubbing alcohol on a towel and that helped get the goop off. I then washed again (and again) with warm soapy water. But, the mess was worth it. I am really happy with how this turned out. It looks great in the room. I can’t wait to get the room painted and see it 100% finished. Well, not 100%… I still plan to add the decorative nails to the headboard, and the jury is still out as to what to do for window treatments.

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Fabric!!!!!!

Fabric arrived today for my pillow shams and the throw pillows for the bed. I am so excited and it’s just as beautiful as it looked online. Fabric.com is my favorite place to order fabric. It’s easy to navigate their site, they have a huge selection, and they’re based out of Atlanta, so I get my fabric in just a few days. In case you didn’t know, I am kinda impulsive and I hate waiting for stuff. Last night I put the new duvet cover on the bed. As expected, if fits great. Ikea sizes are slightly different. They offer twin, full/queen, and king. The current comforter is a full/queen (also purchased from Ikea), as is the new duvet. Sometimes full size comforters seem too small on full size beds, queens can be too long, but the full/queen is perfect.

Yesterday I mentioned the vintage rocker, but didn’t post a picture. I found this at a local consignment shop. My grandmother has a rocking chair that is similar, although her’s isn’t upholstered. I used that chair to rock Zac to sleep when we visited (back when he let me rock him to sleep). When I saw this chair, I had to have it. I bought it with the intention of putting it in our front room, but when I got it home realized it clashed horribly with the curtains. I already knew I wanted to give the guest room a makeover, and decided that this chair would be the inspiration. I found the aqua paisley fabric first, and went from there. I decided on the white duvet cover because it’s classic and will match anything.

While I am super excited to start this project, I have actual work that needs done before I can start on this. I am currently working on a t-shirt quilt for a customer, and I have orders for scarves, bibs, and one of the Wild Things pillows that need to be completed first. Don’t worry though- nothing will happen in this room without me sharing it on the blog. Hoping to buy paint and the wood for the headboard this weekend, and get started next week. Until then, here are some pictures for today.

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