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Friday, September 28, 2012

Working With Knit Fabrics: Supporting Your Fabrics

I recently returned back to my home sewing center with a friend. We were carrying several hundred dollars of new and very pretty material. The phone was ringing, so my friend gathered up the material, assured me she would put it all away, and ushered me toward the phone.

Well, it was a lengthy phone call. My friend wandered out of my storage room before I managed to get off the phone. When I did finally hang up, we visited for a while and she left to collect her kids from school. I went up to my office to answer a few e-mails. It was the next morning before I went into my storage room to gather up some fabric for my next project. And I could have slapped my friend.

The fabrics were put away all right. But they were all hanging. All of them. Now, it's perfectly find to hang fabrics. I do it all the time. But there are some fabrics that you must not hang. Ever. But there was a bolt of beautiful rose fabric hanging over one of the tower rods. The problem? The beautiful rose fabric was a knit. That's why I have shelves.

Knits stretch. They're designed for it. It's what allows knitted fabrics to conform to the body. They're great for making form-fitting garments, but this stretch has a downside. Knitted fabrics have a tendency to grow and stretch when left hanging. So the overnight hang on the towel rod? Well, I can't use that bolt of fabric, at least not for its intended purpose.

It would have been fine if the fabric could regain its original shape. But the "growth" of knitted fabrics can cause inaccurate cuts, distorted pattern pieces, and wavy seams. And it's not reversible. And it's not just hanging over night that causes this problem. You can ruin a delicate knit simply by allowing the fabric to hang over the table edge as you cut out a pattern piece.

To avoid this particular problem, always ensure your knitted fabrics are supported. When you're cutting fabrics, pile the excess fabric on the edge of the table instead of letting it hang. When stitching a seam, support all of the fabric on your lap or on the table rather than allowing it to droop off the sewing surface. And when storing knits, fold or roll them carefully and place them on a shelf. Don't hang them. You don't want misshapen fabric when you sit down to sew.

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