Please welcome today’s KNITerviewee, Sascha of Piccoli Piselli!
Sascha has some mad knit-sewing skills, and I’m thrilled she was able to contribute to our series today! Her blog is chock full of great projects that she’s made for her kids and herself. You may also remember her and the amazing Lego/chalkboard table that she contributed to the Celebrate the BOY series last year. She often repurposes knits, and recently has begun to wander into the fascinating realm of sewing unmentionables, which is pretty much the grad school of knits, in my opinion. One of the best things about Sascha’s blog though is her fantastic personality; she is down-to-earth and irreverently hilarious. If you don’t read Piccoli Piselli yet, definitely check it out!
Here’s our interview about knits:
SASCHA: First of all thank you Rae for inviting me. I probably don’t sew half as well as most of your readers, but I can say I sew with confidence and that making mistakes is a part of what teaches me for the next project. I started sewing at about 6 years old, but I know fellow bloggers that have been sewing for 2 years that blow my mind with their skill.
RAE: Did you ever fear knits?
SASCHA: Luckily my mom introduced me to sewing with knits at a young age so I’m happy to say I never knew to fear knits. There seems to be a lot of fear of sewing with knits out there, but believe me, I’m no sewing-with-knits genius and I am making it work. I’ve actually learned quite a lot about sewing with knits from sewing blogs. Since I now know sewing with knits can be a little daunting I decided my daughter’s first garment sewing project would be with knits. I would like for her to think knit fabric is the same as woven, just a bit more “testy”.
RAE: What types of projects do you typically sew with knits?
SASCHA: I definitely sew the most for my youngest since knits are such a wonderful fabric for babies/toddlers. I love sewing both raglan and lap tees paired with a legging style pant. I also try to “upcycle” knits from old t-shirts and leggings from my older kids.
I have actually taken a t-shirt from my 9 year old and made part of it into a dress for my 8 year old to later cut it up one more time for my 2 year old!
RAE: Do you prefer sewing with knit or with wovens?
SASCHA: I hands down prefer knits. I will tell you that if you put fear aside, knit fabric is more forgiving than woven. When you sew a seam with woven fabric and you have cut the pattern slightly off, you cannot stretch that woven to fit into place. With a stretch you can pull one layer to “match it up” and likely after washing it will fall into place (not major stretching obviously). I have had wonky seams in woven come out of the washer/dryer looking as bad as it did going in, but with knits I sometimes have a hard time finding the bad seam.
RAE: Do you have a favorite type of knit?
SASCHA: I actually love to sew with a 2×1 rib knit best. It is what I use for neck and cuff binding and it really gives a finished look to to home made knit garments.
Here is an example of 2 x 1 rib knit on the cuff and neckline. I have the hardest time finding this knit and when I do I buy at least one yard per color. I’ve been able to find 2 x 1 rib knit at JoAnn’s fabrics these past few years.
RAE: Where do you usually buy your knits?
SASCHA: I wish designers of woven fabrics would put out more lines of knit. I think I am not alone in saying that if Heather Ross would release a line of quality knit fabric we would all be purchasing like mad. The fabric stores previously listed in the Kniterview series are all places I have shopped, but here are my favorites for knit fabric…
and I buy a a lot from Etsy sellers. I just type in cotton knit fabric and go from there.
My favorite source for knits is “upcycling” old t-shirts and sweaters.
Thrift stores are a great source for funky t-shirts and wool and cashmere sweaters. I buy a lot of sweaters from Resweater. The above pants and pixie hat are made from cashmere sweaters. I pre-washed the sweaters and dried them in the dryer so the finished garments are totally baby friendly and the snuggliest baby clothes ever!
RAE: What brand/model machine do you use for sewing knits primarily?
I know a great deal of you have found the machine you love. The one you are willing to give a name. The one that will never say no to a stitch no matter how many layers. I have yet to commit to such a machine. I learned to sew on industrial machines so I never knew what to look for in a home sewing machine. Where I live there are no sewing machine dealers so when I found myself in need of a machine it was either drive 1 1/2 hours to a dealer or to stop at my local Sears for an off the shelf Kenmore. Since I felt like sewing THAT DAY I have a Kenmore 19110.
RAE: Do you use a serger? More/less the same amount as using your machine when sewing knits?
SASCHA: Not only do I use one, I love it! I love sewing exposed seams on a garment with a serger. I also love the way the rib binding on necklines and armholes look when stitched with a serger. I have a hand-me-down Huskylock 905 and a super old Babylock (model unknown). I use the Husky for all my sewing and can’t imagine sewing without one.
RAE: What’s your default setting on your machine for sewing with knits?
SASCHA: I like to lengthen the stitch length in straight stitch to a 2.8 – 3.0 on my machine so there is a little more give in the stitch. I also love using the zig zag stitch for hem lines and sleeve hems.
RAE: Double needle, your thoughts?
SASCHA: I do use a double needle and I like the results most of the time. I occasionally get skipped stitches using a double needle but mostly it works fine. Again, I use a longer stitch length with double needles. When I’m feeling extra motivated by a project I’ll take the time to switch out my straight stitch and serger thread to Maxi Lock Stretch thread. On my straight stitch I use stretch thread in the bobbin only and on my serger I switch out all the cones. I’m a terribly lazy sewer and generally skip a lot of these extra steps.
RAE: Walking foot?
SASCHA: I actually own a walking foot but have not tried it on knits (love it for velvet). I think it can be a great option for slinky knits that want to play slip and slide. Again, I am actually quite lazy with sewing and a walking foot is just one more added step that gets in the way of a completed garment.
RAE: Do you have a trick or tip for sewing with knits you’ve found helpful?
SASCHA: I’m not sure it’s a trick or tip, but I just make sure that when I am sewing side seams, shoulder seams and armholes that I do not stretch the fabric and I let the fabric feed evenly into the sewing machine. When attaching neck binding I stretch the rib knit while letting the main fabric feed evenly into the machine. I also use tear away stabilizer for buttonholes. If the fabric doesn’t have good stretch recovery (ie: doesn’t have any Lycra) I like to size the buttonhole down a tad also. Finally, I would say the best bet is to start with a simple pattern like a raglan tee, legging or skirt.
RAE: Thanks so much Sascha!!!