Sewing with Jersey and Knits: A Heap of Links

I collect useful links. It’s my thing. And now that I’m embarking on some sewing projects which will work better with some of those piles of information readily at hand and tidily organized, it seems that I might as well do that organizing on here, so anyone else with an obsessive desire to research 97 different ways to do something can also partake of my linkful bounty.

Now, obviously the subject of sewing with jersey and other knit fabrics does not have a great deal to do with historical sewing, but many twentieth century styles involve knit fabrics, plus knits can be used for modern interpretations of even more styles, as well as for current designs. I love many mid-twentieth-century vintage styles as well as true historical costumes (you know, really old stuff), and I’ve found that I can get away with wearing 1950s styles in everyday life, which is not so much the case for, say, 1850s. And sometimes a girl just needs a T-shirt.

So, without further ado, here are my links for working with jersey and other knit fabrics, for making T-shirts, sweaters, dresses, miscellaneous refashions, and more, including doing jersey versions of patterns intended for wovens. As I run across/track down further handy-dandy resources, I’ll go back and add them in here, with eye-catching asterisks (***) to signal the new additions.

Knit Inspirations

  • Sewing With Jersey and Knits,” a Pinterest Board of mine with pictures and tutorial links (though all the tutorials are here as well).
  • Sewing with KNITS,” an inspiring Pinterest Board by Rae Hoekstra of Made by Rae with pictures and tutorial links.
  • Sewing Knits,” an inspiring Pinterest Board by Kristin Wenke with pictures and tutorial links.
  • Hack Ideas,” an inspiring Pinterest Board by Steph C of 3 Hours Past, along with other contributors, with pictures of designs both knit and woven, collected as inspiration for Steph’s monthly hacks for her Blank Canvas T free pattern (see below for more information and links to individual designs).

a blank canvas T design variation I drew up

Properties of Knit Fabrics and General Overviews

Cutting Knit Fabric (careful, it’s slippery!)

Helpful Tools and Notions for Working With Knits

ball point pins, pattern weights, rotary cutter, mat

Stitching and Hemming Knits (especially without a serger)

Bindings and Neckline Finishes

Draping and Patternmaking for Knits

  • Guest Post: Draping a Knit Cowl Dress with Alyson Clair” (part 1) at Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, a tutorial for draping in a knit. Followed by Part 2, which makes mention of a third installment to come, but sadly, there does not seem to be a part three anywhere.
  • There are drafting instructions for pattern “hacks” and various patterning-with-knit-fabrics tips in the posts about the Blank Canvas Tee by Steph C at 3 Hours Past (the various designs are listed there and a few inches down from here).

Making T-Shirts and the Like

Blank Canvas T from 3 Hours Past: free patterns
(a.k.a. possibly the best thing ever! Steph is amazing)

Refashioning, Embellishing, or Decorating T-Shirts

Jersey Dresses, Both Modern and Retro

  • Lily of the Valley Dress” by Casey at Casey’s Elegant Musings, Vintage Vogue #8728 from the late 1940s done up in jersey instead of a woven.

Making Sweaters from Knit Fabrics, Plus Sweater Refashions
(as opposed to knitting sweaters, which is, you know, different!)

  • Finished Object: 9 Lines Sweater, Tee and Hack” by Steph C at 3 Hours Past. Includes a sweater made from the May hack for her free Blank Canvas T pattern as well as a lighter knit Tee.
  • I Sewed a Sweater!” by Gretchen Hirsch at Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing; not a tutorial but has useful tips and pictures.
  • How To Refashion a Cardigan” by Casey at Casey’s Elegant Musings, a tutorial for turning a shapeless store-bought or thrifted cardigan into a custom-fitted, vintage-style cardigan.
  • My Upcycled, Hot Glue, Anthropolgie-esque, Rose Garden Cardy” by Patty at The Snug Bug, a detailed tutorial for turning a large, plain, pullover sweater into a cute, fitted cardigan, plus embellishments if so desired. No actual hot glue involved!
  • Flop Fix #3: Fine-tuned Thrift Find” by Patty at The Snug Bug, a detailed post depicting a creative refashion for a big, shapeless cable-knit sweater.
  • Learn how to sew a ribbon placket on a vintage-style cardigan with “Guest Post: Tasha” at Casey’s Elegant Musings, by Tasha of By Gum, By Golly.
  • Dash Away the Winter Blues with Embroidery!” by Casey at Casey’s Elegant Musings, a tutorial for adding a vintage-style embroidered embellishment to a cardigan, complete with an adorable Scottie dog and several links to sources for free vintage embroidery patterns.
  • Cupid’s Arrow Sweater Embellishment” by Casey at Casey’s Elegant Musings, a tutorial for a charming Valentine’s Day inspired applique-and-beading design to add to any plain cardigan.
  • Vintage Flair: How to Make a (Faux) Fur Collar” (for a cardigan) by Casey at Casey’s Elegant Musings.

Pale pink sweater with dorset replacement button

Making Knit (and/or stretch) Fabric Undergarments

  • Free Hipster Pattern” at MakeBra, a downloadable underwear pattern in small, medium, and large, plus tutorial. The panties are modern, low-rise and low-cut on the leg (a.k.a. “hipster” – eep!).
  • Make Your Own Upcycled Undies” by Lauren Dahl at Ruthie Pearl. Use scavenged knit-fabric garments or scraps to make panties of various styles. Make your own pattern based on an existing pair of panties, then use fold-over elastic to easily and attractively finish.
  • Detour Into Panty Land” by Gretchen Hirsch at Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, a  post about using an Ohhh Lulu pattern to make high-waisted 1950s-style panties using various materials. Followed be even more in The Panty Express. Plus, if anyone thinks you’re crazy for liking retro high-waisted knickers, check out Gertie’s “In Defense of Granny Panties.”

Accessories and Other Things You Can Make with Knit Fabrics

  • The Maxi” by Leanne Barlow at Elle Apparel, a tutorial for making a casual, semi-full maxi skirt with a yoga waistband.
  • Smoooooooth Waistbands” by LiEr at IkatBag, a tutorial for a smooth application of a waistband onto knitwear pants.

Knit Fabric Clothes for Babies and Children (just scratching the surface!)

Double-Knits and Interlocks (which are heavier & behave more like wovens)

cotton interlock in black and white damask print

And While We’re At It – Working with Woven Stretch Fabrics

pink and white striped stretch cotton sateen

Online Suppliers of Knits and Stretch Fabrics
(these are places I’ve personally bought from or that have been recommended by sources I consider to be reliable)

  • is, honestly, where I do most of my fabric-purchasing these days. They don’t carry everything, but I tend to check and keep checking for various things I’m interested in (I looked for cotton crinoline for years before they started carrying it and, eventually, I bought a bunch on sale), and I watch for sales. Whenever I’m going to buy anything from them (orders $35 and over get free shipping!), I check the deep discounted clearance sections to see if anything I need is discounted. I’ve found 50% off hemp rayon knits both of the last times I looked! Their organic cotton knits and hemp rayon knits are both very nice, in my experience. (And they’re not paying me to say any of this, alas.)
  • Rae Talks About Shopping for Knit Fabrics Online” by Rae Hoekstra at Made By Rae, less about specific store and more about what to look for and how to evaluate knit fabrics, though it includes some brand suggestions.
  • Near Sea Naturals, a company recommended at Made by Rae. Eco-friendly, high quality materials – sounds great!
  • Spandex World, a company recommended by Gretchen Hirsch at Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing; where she sourced various stretch fabrics for her panty-making habit.
  • Sew Sassy Fabrics, also recommended at Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, specifically for their selection of elastics.

Also, for more on fibers and fabrics, see my Glossary of Fibers, Fabrics, and Materials, which has on-site information as well as more links (linkssss!!).

Updated August 7, 2012: now with pictures!

Updated August 10, 2012: added a missing link to an entry.

5 responses to “Sewing with Jersey and Knits: A Heap of Links

  1. Wow! That’s *quite* a list, I’m looking forward to working through it and reading all the stuff I missed! Thanks for the links. 🙂

    • You know, this is all your fault, Steph! It was your darling Blank Canvas T that persuaded me that I really should get over my fear of knits and just try it. Clearly I’ve gone a wee bit down the rabbit-hole…

  2. It’s a bit like that… But knits are mostly pretty forgiving, and to most people they read as “clothes” much more readily than wovens…

    • That’s so true. I suspect that I’ll be able to get away with wearing vintage blouses done up as jersey tees far more easily than in wovens. I mean, I’m pretty okay with people just thinking I’m strange, but sometimes it’s a little overwhelming being *so* obvious. My cutting table and I have grand plans for many versions of your Blank Canvas T and also a Sewaholic Renfrew or two.

      Do you watch “Smash”? One of the Marilyn actresses wears a lovely 3/4 sleeve T-shirt at one point with really great retro styling, but it’s subtle because it’s done in a soft knit and cut long. I sketched it out and I think I can use the Renfrew to make it, with a manageable bit of drafting. ALL the T-shirts! 🙂

  3. Pingback: 4 Things About Sewing Knits For Complete Beginners « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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