My all time favorite knit fabrics

I’ve had more than a few people ask me for resources when it comes to shopping for knits, so I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorite knit fabrics of all time and a few places where you can find them. I’m also adding this post to the “KNITS: Stretch Yourself” series, which is a set of posts that contains tips and tricks for knit sewing and such.

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One thing I want to say first is that you might notice that most of these knits retail for over $12/yard. I just don’t find many $6/yd knits that I love. Some are OK, but not great. Most get pilly after a few washes. Think about it though: most knits come in 60″ widths, so if you do the math, that’s roughly 50% more fabric per yard than you would get with a 44″ width woven fabric. So why on earth — when high-quality wovens cost $10-$12 yard — do we expect to get the same quality for 50% LESS, cost-wise, when it comes to knits? This baffles me, but I’m guessing most people never even think about it, they just see the higher $ and balk. Personally I’m happy to pay 50% more to know that my knits are well-made, high-quality, so that I won’t have to throw away something I’ve spent precious time sewing up. But this all goes back to my general philosophy on fabrics, which you can find more of in this post, if you haven’t had enough of my blathering yet.

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Many of the knits below come from current or past sponsors of this blog, but some do not. I love fabric, so while I like to shop with my sponsors to support them, I never hesitate to purchase good fabric from other sources. You will see this reflected in these choices; these are the BEST knits I have personally had experience sewing with; however, there are a ton of other great knit fabrics that I haven’t yet had a chance to try out, including many that are currently available from the shops that sponsor this blog (for instance, the very popular knit-source Girl Charlee just started sponsoring this blog and I got their substrate samples last week, so I don’t really feel qualified to give you an opinion there, but I’m excited to give some of their fabrics a try!). Feel free to weigh in with your favorites in comments as well.

Pickering International
Pickering knits are a fantastic quality, and come in a number of different weights. I purchased some heathered jersey last summer from Sew to Speak (they take phone orders so I just watch their IG feed and call when I want something) that is a bit thicker, but the grey Pickering jersey I made the hoodie below from (purchased at Dry Goods Design in Ballard) is super thin and stretchy and has also held up REALLY well without pilling.

Hilco and Lillestof
These knits come from Europe, and are pricey but TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY. The blue striped Campan knit that I made that henley for Elliot out of (below) may quite possibly be the best knit I have ever had the pleasure of sewing with. I’ve only been able to find Hilco at Banberry Place and Kitchy Coo, but maybe you know of other sources and can share them in comments.

Another Euro-knit brand with super-awesome prints is Lillestoff. If you like the Scandenavian look for your kid’s knit garments, you definitely need to check these out. You can find them at Banberry Place, Kitchy Coo, and this Etsy shop. (UPDATE: All of these links are now gone; does anyone know where to find these fabrics? Let me know!)

Robert Kaufman Laguna Knits
This jersey has a higher lycra content, giving it a wonderful recovery (it doesn’t get stretched out), and comes in awesome solid shades. I’ve made a ton of stuff with it, including tees for myself and my kids (see the pink tee for Clementine, below. I purchased that knit from Pink Castle, who currently carries a number of other great colors as well). Because it’s jersey, the edges curl up when you wash it, so I often skip the hemming and just leave the rolled edge much of the time.

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Spoonflower Organic Knits
This substrate from Spoonflower (though I can’t speak for the other two substrates, the Performance Knit or their new Modern Jersey which is thinner and drapier) is one of my favorites. UPDATE: This substrate has been discontinued WAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! I love the natural background color on this interlock, and it’s thick enough and has enough stretch to make for excellent tees. I don’t love the fading that happens (due to the digital printing process) when you wash it, but I’ve found you can reduce fading significantly by washing garments inside-out on a more delicate setting.

If you don’t want to purchase digital fabric on-demand, two similar organic knits are the Birch and Monaluna knits (that link is to the “knits” category at Fabricworm, where you can find both brands); while I don’t have as much experience sewing with these two brands (yet!), they feel very similar to the Spoonflower organic knit in both weight and stretch, and are equally as soft.

Windham knits
This year, four of the Briar Rose prints by Heather Ross were printed on a jersey substrate from Windham fabrics that was really soft and nice. I sewed a couple of things with it that have held up really nicely with wash and wear, so I’m adding it to this list because I’m hoping they will release more prints on knits this year! You can still find these knits a few places online if you just search for “Briar Rose Jersey Knits.”

And finally, this company is closed right now because they’re moving their facilities, but I’m really really hoping that they’ll open soon, because it’s one of my favorite sources for knits:

Near Sea Naturals  (update: now Organic Cotton Plus)
These organic cotton knits are manufactured in the USA and are super-high quality. Order swatches first to make sure you get the weight you want. My favorite fabric from them so far has been this charcoal and cream striped knit that I used both for a knit top for me (below) and one for Elliot. It’s a nice medium-weight rib knit that has a good deal of stretch and has a nice thickness. The cream jersey shown in the Alabama Chanin babydoll top shown below was also from Near Sea Naturals. As far as I know, they are only available from the Near Sea Naturals website.

If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy this post:

fabric top five

14 thoughts on “My all time favorite knit fabrics

  1. great info! thanks for sharing. I can’t find good quality knits locally and ordering online is so hit or miss, it will be good to have some recommendations to go by.

  2. I have bought from girl charlee and liked some of what I bought but not all. It’s hard to tell online. I live very close to the Hilco factory here in Germany and do enjoy going out there. But new knits are 20 euro a meter! I only splurge occasionally. They sell their factory seconds too and that’s usually what I end up buying. They also put out a pattern magazine that I LOVE called Knip Mode.

  3. Thanks for the list, Rae. Buying knits online is such a crap shoot; you never know what the quality will be. I trust your experience and since I’ve never dealt with any of these suppliers, it should be lots of fun checking them out. Oh – and even MORE fun buying some great new fabric!

    Hope you are feeling well and getting enough rest these days 🙂

  4. This is great! I’m kind of a grump when it comes to knits, so it’s good to know where to get the good stuff. I just bought some Pickering stripe bamboo jersey. Soooooo nice.

  5. I needed this list, thank you so much! I have a hard time finding fabrics that I like and love the look of almost all of these. I just got your Washi Dress pattern and so far so good. The sheering had me all kinds of flustered, but I finally got it and literally did a “yes!” to myself. Later my daughters were like “mom, you made that, wow” so it felt pretty good.

  6. Thanks so much for all the helpful information!
    I would add Riley Blake basic cotton knits to the list. They have the best dots, chevrons, solids and stripes in great colors. They are a little pricey, but as you said in the article, they’re also extra wide.

  7. I just started sewing in the last year. I became really inspired to sew something with knit fabric after reading this, so today I bought a pattern & material to make my best friend a knit romper for her new baby. Sounds wonderful until, an hour later, I have:

    Pattern-$6
    knit fabric-$20 (after shipping)
    tubular knit cuffing $20 (after shipping)
    notions- $12

    I now have a $58 knit romper. Holy Mother of God. I’m done sewing forever.

  8. Thanks for this post. I have been using the Ottobre Etsy Store (as well as Banberry) to purchase Hilco and Campan. They have a nice selection of organic knits too. My girls LOVE the Campan knits and tend to wear them as pajamas too – despite my inability to master flat felled seams. Their shipped is very reasonable and they also sell Framilon elastic tape for help in gathering knits.

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Ottobredesign?ref=l2-shopheader-name

    I haven’t tried them yet, but the Nosh fabrics from Finland also look gorgeous.

    http://en.noshshop.com/category/54/organic-fabrics

  9. Hi there. I’ve been drooling over the wash dress pattern. But was curious if it would look decent made from a knit? Loved this post about knits! So helpful!!

    Thanks

  10. I can’t thank you enough for this informative post. I never realized how hard it is to find button-front good-quality knit pajamas or robes until I scheduled my total shoulder replacement. My search has shown that about 80% of sleep shirts and pajamas have pull-over, tee-shirt like tops which just will not work with an immobilized arm. Your site never came up until today when I did a search so I will have to resort to buying items for after this surgery but before I have the next shoulder done, I will definitely be making some button-front sleepwear in yummy knits. Thanks so very much for sharing.

  11. Thanks for this post and the links! I find your sewing blog far more valuable than many out there, full of um… meaty good info (for lack of a better expression). I always learn something in each of your posts. Though I’ve been sewing for … mumble … over 50 years on wovens, I am finally tackling knits – for real this time, snicker! Thanks again!

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