Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Knit-acular, Spectacular!

Knit-acular, Spectacular!  Not only is it an homage to one of my favorite movies (Moulin Rouge for those of you who didn't catch that!), but it's also what we are calling our first guest post with Mel from Purpleseamstress Fabric!  Have you been sewing with knits for years?  Or maybe you're like me, and you've heard other people say means things about knits, and are now scared?  Be scared no more!  Mel is going to hold our hand through the process of deciding which knit is right for your specific project and how to sew it successfully!  (Pretty nice of her, huh?)  Knowledge is power, and we are confident that YOU will be confident sewing with knits after reading what Mel has to share with us today  :)  (I've already started my first knit project!  More on that later!)  Keep reading because we *may* have some discounts for you to take advantage of (hurray!!)  Rev up your sewing machines, ladies, we are about to tackle knits!
Here is a little introduction by Mel...
"Hi, my name is Melinda Dozal, owner of Purpleseamstress Fabric on Facebook.   Many years ago I started out selling fabric on eBaby, just as a hobby.  My full-time, very stressful job was as a court reporter.  Well, eventually I found my way onto Facebook, and my business had just taken off. So I was able to retire from court reporting and do what I love to do, play with fabric!!!   I have to pinch myself everyday to see if this is real."
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Purpleseamstress Fabric, Mel posts photos of knits she has for sale almost daily on her Facebook page.  She sells out almost as soon as she lists her fabrics- yep, that's how great they are!  If you see something you like, you better let her know before someone else snatches it up!  You can find a few albums on her page that list fabrics she currently has available. 

There are albums for:
ruffle fabrics
solid rib knits
solid, medium-weight, 4-way stretch cotton/lycra blends
striped, medium-weight, 4-way stretch cotton/lycra blends
and an album of various knits that are still available for purchase

The color selection is amazing, the price is fantastic, and the quality is excellent!  Over and over again, I hear people sing her praises.  Out of the many times I've heard people discuss fabric stores and the quality of knit fabrics, I've never heard a single negative or even luke-warm comment made about Purpleseamstress Fabric.  When I ordered from Mel on a Friday, she sent me a message the same day telling me my fabric was shipping that day, and I got it on Monday.  How is that for great customer service?!? 

I would like to point out that some of the listings mention whether the fabric is yarn-dyed or printed.  Yarn-dyed fabrics are exactly what they sound like- the actual fibers are dyed, and you can see the same coloring on both sides of the fabric.  A printed knit will only have the design on the front with the back being white.  Most yarn-dyed fabrics are going to either be solids or stripes.  These would be the best choice for snug fitting garments where the fabric will be stretched, such as pants, so that the white doesn't show through.  There are, however, some nicer printed knits where the white won't show through as bad when stretched. 
There are many types of knits available out there in fabric land.  There are light- to medium-weight cotton knits with a 1- or 2-way stretch, medium-weight cotton/lycra knits with a 4-way stretch, rib knits, French terry knits... just to name a few.  So how do you know which type to choose for your sewing project?  Well, let's find out!!


For leggings, shorts and ruffle pants:

Choose a cotton/lycra 4-way stretch knit.   Pants and leggings must have lycra in them and be a heavier (medium) weight fabric, too, so they don't lose their shape and result in a saggy bottom or baggy knees.  Most cotton/lycras are medium weight. 

For a dress with a fitted bodice:

Choose a cotton knit or a cotton/lycra knit or a french terry knit.  A medium weight knit is probably best for the bodice.  For the sleeves, you can use a medium or a light-weight knit.  For flutter sleeves, a light-weight knit would be best.  Of course, you can use the same knit for all the bodice if you want the fabric to be uniform, but some people like to mix and match! 


For a flowy dress: 

Choose a light- to medium-weight cotton knit so it hangs/bounces/wears well.


For upcycles:

Choose a cotton knit for sleeves, bodice and ruffles and rib or cotton/lycra for the neckline.  Most people who do upcycles prefer med weight knits for the bodice, skirt, and back.  You would probably want to use a light weight fabric for ruffles, though, so they aren't heavy and weighted down.  All weights have their perfect use for knit dresses!


For shirts and tops:

Choose a medium-weight cotton knit or a 4-way stretch cotton/lycra knit, and a rib knit or cotton/lycra knit for the neckline.


For skirts:

Choose a cotton or cotton/lycra for the skirt part and cotton/lycra or rib on the waist.  You'll want that extra stretch with good recovery so your skirt will stay up if elastic is not used.   


For Undies:

Choose any knit for the main fabric.  The leg trim, crotch (if you make them that way), and waist need to be a 4-way cotton/lycra knit. 

Whew!  Did we give you enough information?  I hope that clarifies any questions you may have been having about which kind of knit you would need to sew a certain type of clothing.  Now that we know which knits we need, what do we do with them??  Most of your patterns made for use with knit fabrics will give you a lot of great advice and will, of course, walk you step-by-step through the whole process of making the garment.  But Mel is here to hold our hand today, so we are going to soak in all the knowledge she has to offer on sewing with knits!
To start off, what do you do with knit to prep it for sewing?  That varies from person to person.  Some people don't wash before they sew; some wash with color catchers on a cold, gentle cycle and tumble dry or lay flat; some wash on hot and dry on it's totally up to the individual.  If you intend to wash your project after you make it, be sure to wash your fabric beforehand to avoid any bleeding of the dyes and to pre-shrink the fabric instead of the fabric shrinking after you've put all your time and energy into creating your perfect outfit!  It's always best to try and avoid those "surprises" later on. 
One of the biggest complaints I hear from people are that the ends of the knit fabric curl when the are trying to sew.  It seems like it's the lighter weight fabrics and some of the cotton/lycras that curl.   You can iron on low heat & use starch or use use a tear-away stabilizer to keep this from happening. When you know you have a curling fabric it seems like it's best to cut and sew right away because it seems that the longer it sits, the more it rolls. So cut, then go right to the machine before it even has a chance to roll.   It's best not to use pins so you don't take a chance of putting holes in it.  You should also only use a ball point needle for this same reason.  A lot of people will sew their fabrics together first with a regular sewing machine, then use a serger.  Some people don't even finish the edges, like for ruffles or for the ruffle pants because the edges won't fray or unravel like with a woven cotton. 
To avoid your fabric stretching while you sew, make sure you don't put any pressure or pull the fabric through the serger.   Just guide the fabric and let the feed dogs pull it through.  It also helps to run the  the differential feed at 1 on your serger.   When you change knit thickness, you have to adjust the tensions just a bit.  Check your machine's User Manual for exact settings when sewing with knits.  Also, some people use different color threads, too, in case you need help determining which thread is causing an issue.  As far as gaining a few scraps or a cheaper yard & just play with the serger to get the feel for it.  Just like learning to sew with wovens, practice makes perfect! 
And I know you are all ready to start practicing, aren't you?!?!  I thought so  :)  And to help you start your love affair with knits off right, Fairytale Frocks & Lollipops and Purpleseamstress Fabric want to offer you a discount!! Yay!!  From now until the end of the day on Tuesday, May 7th, you can take 15% off your purchase of any patterns designed for knit fabrics at Fairytale Frocks & Lollipops!!  We've added a new page to our website called Designed for Knits that will show you ALL the knit patterns we have available.  The price is already marked down, no coupon code needed!  We also have a Pinterest board devoted to knit patterns for your shopping convenience :)  And since you can't sew up a knit pattern without knit fabric, Mel has graciously offered to give all of our blog readers a 15% discount for the next 48 hours (ends May 3rd at 10 AM CST)!  Didn't I tell ya she was a peach? 
To take advantage of the discount on her Facebook page, simply add one of the following three phrases to your comment/message when ordering:
Mel, you're the best!
This fabric is fabulous!
I can't wait to stitch this up! 

The three phrases above are your discount code :) 

We all know that Facebook can be a little wonky sometimes, so to make the ordering process go as smoothly as possible, please follow these steps :)
1.  Comment on the photo of the listing you would like to purchase with the amount of yards you would like to order, your email address that you would like for the invoice to be sent to, and one of the three discount phrases above.
2.  Since Mel doesn't always get notified whenever someone leaves a comment (silly Facebook), please also send her a message through Facebook with a short description of the fabric you would like to purchase and all the info you have previously left on the post.  I realize this sounds redundant, but it is to ensure that if you are the first person to "claim" a fabric in which there are limited quantities, there is documentation of who got first dibs on it. 
3.  From time to time people are unable to send messages through Facebook.  If you are unable to send Mel a message, you should email her at
4.  If you are placing multiple orders, please let Mel know so she can combine them all to one invoice and ship them together to save on shipping costs :) 
5.  If for any reason you do not receive an invoice by 11 AM CST on Friday, May 3rd, you should send her an email with your order info in case it has somehow been overlooked.  We don't want anyone to get passed over by accident! 

Like I've said about 500 times already, Mel is a really great woman to do business with and often let's her customers start "piles."  This allows her customers to continue to shop over a period of time until they fill an envelope or box to save on shipping charges.  Once your envelope or box is full, you get invoiced.  For all of you who may already have a "pile" on hold with Mel, please note that the discount only applies to orders that are paid for during the specified time frame (May 1st at 10 AM CST- May 3rd 10 AM CST).  You may go ahead and ask to be invoiced and have your fabric shipped and, therefore, receive the discount.  If you ask Mel to set aside fabric during the sale, and yet don't pay/have it shipped until a later date, the discount will no longer be valid.  This is to prevent confusion over the next few weeks.  Thank you so much for understanding! 
You are welcome to spread the word about the discounts with your friends, but please don't just share the discount phrases, instead direct them to the blog so they can read about it themselves ;) 
I can't wait to see pictures of what everyone decides to sew up with the newfound patterns, fabric, and knowledge!!  Be sure to share photos on both the FF&L and Purpleseamstress Fabric Facebook pages!  If you have any advice you would like to share from your own experience sewing with knits, leave us a comment so everyone else can benefit from it, too! 
Hope you've enjoyed this post as much as I've enjoyed writing it!  Make sure you go like Purpleseamstress Fabric on Facebook and have fun shopping! 

Now go sew something magical!!
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  1. Just wanted to pop in and say that I LOVE buying fabric from Mel! Shes wonderful and has the best fabric and shipping around!

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet words about Mel!! We think she's the bee's kness!! Happy to have you here, Nicole!!

  2. Does anyone have any special advice for buying fabric online? I always have needed to touch to a feel of the hand of the fabric and see it up close to be sure the colors or pattern is really defined. Thanks.

    1. I know there are some stores that offer samples for a minimal price that you can take a look at before placing an order. Off the top of my head, I can't remember who they are. I would suggest asking the store owners if they would be willing to send you a small sample size swatch to preview before ordering. There may be some willing store owners out there!!

  3. Thank you. That is a great idea. Funny, I never thought of it. Always seems like it is such a time crunch when looking at fabric online.

    1. I feel the same way. When I'm on a mission to buy fabric, I want it right then! Best of luck! And we've got a giveaway starting today you might want to check out for a chance to win a gift certificate to FF&L!

  4. Thank you for the tips on selecting and sewing knits. I keep trying (sewing knits), but it hasn't been wonderful yet. I'll keep these tips in mind when I shop and sew knits next time (I haven't tried lycra blends yet...I'm more intrigued than ever now). Thank you for sharing your ideas! Lynaea @

    1. Lynaea, thanks so much for checking us out! I'm glad you found some useful information, and hopefully it will help the next time you sew with knits! I recently got a lot of cotton/lycra knits from Purpleseamstress Fabric, and have really enjoyed them. Good luck!!


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I'll try to respond as quickly as I can! Have a fabulous day full of sewing!