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Sewing Woven vs Knit Fabrics

The Uno Dress pattern works well with both knit and woven fabrics. Each type has its strengths and challenges. Here are some considerations when you are selecting the fabric to use and some tips for sewing each type.

WOVENS:

Generally, woven fabrics are not stretchy. Some woven fabrics do have spandex which will give the fabric some stretch. For fabrics with no stretch, you will need to make sure that the garment fits properly because unlike stretchy knits the fabric will not stretch around the tight spots. We provide instructions on blending sizes if you are a different size on top versus bottom.

 

Woven fabrics can tend to fray. Here are some tips for controlling fraying fabric:

  • I highly recommend you finish each exposed seam with a zig-zag or overcast stitch. This will prevent the seam allowance from fraying and it will also give the seam a finished look.
  • You can use pinking shears to cut the fabric.

  • Anti-fraying products such as Fray Check can be applied to the cut edges to prevent them from fraying.

  • Note: If your fabric is machine washable, then I recommend you finish the cut edges with a zig-zag or overcast stitch before washing the fabric. If you do not, the fabric will fray significantly in the washing machine or dryer.

 

 

KNITS:

Knits are incredibly comfortable to wear, the edges do not fray and often do not wrinkle. Knit garments can be easier to fit too since the fabric will stretch around your curves. If you are on the edge of a size then you are more likely to find the fit comfortable.

 

  • Stretchy fabric can be more challenging to cut. You have to make sure that the fabric is not stretched when you cut it. Ensure the fabric is not hanging off the table’s edge. I usually cut a piece of fabric slightly bigger than the pattern piece. I find this easier to set up and then I lay the pattern piece on the more manageable piece of fabric. Remember the stretchiest part of the fabric will be wrapping around your body.

  • Use a stretch or narrow zig-zag stitch. This stitch will stretch slightly and is less likely to pop then stitch when stretched.

  • Thinner knit fabrics can tend to curl on the cut edges. Some people apply lightweight knit interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric to add strength and stability.

  • You may find it helpful to baste to hold knit fabrics in place until you sew the final seam or hem. 

  • While you are sewing be sure to not stretch the fabric. Let the feed dogs on the sewing machine do the work of advancing the fabric through your machine. Make sure the fabric on either side is not hanging off the table causing it to stretch. If the fabric is stretched then the seam will be distorted and it will likely look wavy.

  • Use a ballpoint, jersey, or stretch sewing machine needle. These types of needles will push the yarns of the fabric to the side rather than possibly snagging them with a pointed needle.

  • Do not start sewing at the very edge of the fabric because the edge may be drawn into your machine. Start the stitch about a half inch from the edge, then backstitch to the edge, and then forward.

  • Some people prefer to use a walking foot when sewing knits. The walking foot will feed two layers of fabric through the machine at the same time preventing it from stretching as it is sewn. If you have not worked with a walking foot before, test it out to see if you prefer it.

  • A serger is wonderful for sewing knits but it is not necessary

Shop for sewing project kits available in woven and knit fabrics!
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