KNIT FABRIC. The unique structure of interlocking loops of yarn gives knit fabrics a built in stretch.

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1 KNIT FABRIC. WHY IS KNIT FABRIC SO SPECIAL? The unique structure of interlocking loops of yarn gives knit fabrics a built in stretch. These loops open out under stress, and then snap back to shape. This makes knit fabric extremely desirable for close fitting garments. Woven fabrics have little or no stretch. Knit fabrics are easy to cut, style, and fit. They are very easy to sew. Knit garments rarely need facing or linings. The stretch provides built-in fit so that darts and zips are seldom required. 1

2 ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR SEWING KNIT FABRIC Use a polyester thread as it has in-built stretch which is compatible with the fabric. Use a ballpoint needle as its slightly rounded point pushes the thread into the fabric without damaging the fabric. Remember to change your needle often when sewing knits. Synthetic fibers tend to build up a residue and blunt the needle very quickly. If you need to use an iron-on fusing or interfacing, use a stretch fusing or cut woven fusing on the bias unless you particularly want to control the stretch in your garment. 2

3 FABRIC PREPARATION. Knits with a large wool or cotton content will have a tendency to shrink. Polyesters and other synthetics shrink very little if at all. Loose dye may remain in some darker coloured fabrics which will disappear with the first few washes. If you are unsure about colorfastness, do not mix light and dark coloured fabrics when washing. If you are unsure of the fabric you can do a shrink test. Cut two identical rectangles (say 8cm x 10cm) and treat one to test for shrinkage and colour fastness. This can be done in a bowl of hand hot water with detergent added. Leave the fabric immersed for minutes then, using a pressing cloth, iron dry. Now compare this with the piece of fabric that has not been treated. If shrinkage has occurred or loose dye has coloured the water, you may need to pre-treat your fabric before cutting out your garment. Do NOT pre - shrink rib knits as you may affect their stretch and recovery properties. If you are using a dark coloured trim on a light coloured fabric, wash the rib gently first to remove any dye residue. GOLDEN RULE: When pre-treating your fabric, you need to handle it the same way as you would your finished garment. 3

4 CUTTING THE FABRIC Before cutting it is important to check that the grain of the fabric is straight to ensure that your garment will hang correctly. Knit fabrics should be treated as napped fabrics. This means that all pattern pieces should be placed with the grain running in the same direction. This will avoid colour shading which will be noticeable, particularly at the seams. Generally the greatest stretch in a knit fabric is across the width of the fabric. Always place your pattern so that the greatest stretch of the fabric goes around the body. Take care when cutting knits as they may ladder if too much tension is applied to the cut edge. Check that the grain of the fabric follows the straight grain lines on the pattern. Cut on a smooth, flat surface with the complete fabric flat on the table. Do not cut out on carpet, it will grip the fabric pulling it off grain. Use sharp scissors, as blunt scissors will chew the fabric. 4

5 MACHINING KNITS Clean the machine frequently as knit fabrics produce a lot of lint. Knit fabrics, with their built - in stretch, require stretch to be put into the seams so that the seams move with the fabric when body stress is placed on the garment. If this is not done, the stitching will break when the seams are put under stress. Overlocking machines are ideal for sewing knit fabrics as the stitch on the overlocking machine has sufficient stretch to allow the seam to move with the fabric. At times it is necessary to use a lockstitch machine to sew knits; you need to gently stretch the fabric during sewing. Hold the fabric firmly at the back and front of the needle as you sew will help with this. Stretch fabrics require stabilising at the shoulder seams. Use pre - shrunk woven tape or self-fabric cut on the non-stretch length of the fabric. Moblion will also work. Stay stitching may be required to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape. This is usually done around the neck and hem. Always stitch from the hem up to ensure that the garment is not stretched or twisted during sewing. In other areas, stitch from the widest to the narrowest part of each section. Neckline treatment should always be stitched in one direction e.g. a placket front should always be stitched from the centre up to the neckline. GOLDEN RULE: A successful knit seam should "GIVE" with the stretch in your fabric. 5

6 PRESSING Careful and patient pressing during sewing is the key to a professional looking garment. Press with a cool iron and use a pressing cloth, this will prevent glazing and protect the fibres. Never place the iron on the right side of the fabric without using a pressing cloth. Start with a damp pressing cloth and press until the cloth is dry. Press on the wrong side wherever possible. Sandwich press flat seams open by pressing the stitched seam closed first, this embeds the stitches. Then open the seam with your fingers and press it flat with the point of the iron. Press each seam as you sew, allowing the steam to do the necessary pressing. Press with the grain or in the direction which the seam has been sewn. 6

7 GARMENT Knit fabrics offer the utmost in wear ability and wash ability. Most knits are machine washable, fast drying and require little or no ironing. They are crease resistant which makes them extremely convenient when travelling, they are also very hard wearing. Specialty knit blended fabrics, 100% wool, or fabrics with a large percentage of wool should be dry-cleaned. Hand washing will lengthen the life of delicate knit fabrics. It is also recommended for some blended knit fabrics, especially those who have less than 50% synthetic content. Whether you machine or hand wash your knit garment always use cool or warm water with soap powder or detergent. Hot water may cause creasing, shrinkage or bleeding of dye. Do NOT use bleach, or bleach based products on your knit garments. Use a delicate or slow spin setting to gently remove excess water from garments. Excessive spinning can result in creasing. If you are using a dryer use a short drying cycle at a cool temperature. Remove garments while they are still damp. Excessive machine drying of synthetics may cause a buildup of static electricity. GOLDEN RULE: To extend the life of your knit garment lay it flat to dry. 7

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