Let’s welcome Vanessa of LBG Studio for this season’s first KNITerview! Vanessa shares sewing projects, tutorials, and photography tips over at her blog, and the clean, modern look of her blog along with the amazing photography makes it a must-read for me. In addition to that, she sews all kinds of things out of knit fabric for her adorable daughter, so I knew she’d be a great person to ask to answer some questions about knits!!!
RAE: What’s your favorite thing to sew with knit fabrics?
VANESSA: I love sewing clothes for my kiddo using knits. I’m pretty much over sewing clothing with quilt weight fabric and usually end up using knits or wovens like voile or rayon challis. I think those fabrics result in clothes that look “store bought”, wash well, and are comfortable.
RAE: Where do you get your knit fabric?
VANESSA: I prefer being able to see and touch knit fabric before buying so I try to find things locally if possible. For solids, I can usually find something at Joann. For prints, I like to check out the sale rack at Old Navy. I’ve been able to find xxl tops/t-shirts there for under $5 that usually yield enough fabric for a kids clothes sewing project.
I also get knits online, but that tends to be hit or miss because sometimes I end up with fabric that is too thin or too sheer for the intended project. Some shops I use are fabric.com and Girl Charlee
RAE: What type of knit (jersey? rib? interlock? etc) would you recommend for someone who’s never sewn with knits before for a first project?
VANESSA: I would definitely avoid super thin and stretchy fabrics for the first few projects. Those types of fabrics are the hardest to cut and sew (at least for me!). I find stable, heavier weight knits to be a dream to sew with. The Heather Ross jersey is a good example of a knit fabric that is user friendly.
RAE: What kind of sewing machine do you have? and do you recommend your machine for knits?
VANESSA: I’ve had a Janome DC2010 for the last 4 years or so. I really love my sewing machine and feel that it handles sewing knits well.
RAE: What’s one tip or trick you wish someone had told you when you first started sewing with knits?
VANESSA: I wish I’d known about using a double needle + bulky nylon in the bobbin for topstitching and hemming knits. Your hems will look SO much better and they’ll have some give so the stitches are less likely to break. My daughter has a bad habit of stretching the hem of shirts and dresses over her knees and this type of hem seems to hold up.
RAE: What’s the most useful trick in your knit-sewing-toolbag?
VANESSA: Hmmm. . . I’d have to say using a rotary cutter instead of scissors. Knit fabric can be shifty and that can be especially problematic when trying to keep stripes, etc straight. I find that the less you have to handle the fabric when cutting, the better. Using pattern weights instead of pins means everything lays flat and using a rotary cutter instead of scissors means I don’t have to lift the fabric at all. If I’m drafting my own pattern pieces, I use freezer paper. I can then iron them directly onto the fabric and I don’t have to worry about the pattern pieces shifting at all.
RAE: Do you use a serger? Which make/model? Do you recommend it?
VANESSA: I have a Brother 1034D serger and I definitely recommend it – especially if you’re on a budget. I was able to get mine for under $200 and it rarely gives me problems. Since it’s such a popular machine, you’ll find lots of tutorials online which can be helpful when you’re just starting out. In fact, I have a few on my blog: Serger Tips for Brother 1034D: Gathering and Serger Tips for Brother 1034D: Rolled Hem Mini Tutorial
RAE: Did you find it difficult to learn how to use a serger?
VANESSA: I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated by my serger when I first got it what with the crazy threading and the knife BUT decided to just dive in. I think the best way to learn is by doing. Once you get past threading a serger, it’s really quite simple. I found the manual to really come in handy so I would recommend reading through that.
RAE: Any tips for sewing with sergers?
VANESSA: I’m kind of lazy and stick to using white thread in my serger so that I don’t have to fool with rethreading or keeping tons of large spools sitting around but if you want to change your thread colors out frequently, there is a “cheater” method HERE that makes it pretty simple.
RAE: What’s different on your sewing machine when you sew knits vs wovens, in other words — how do you set up your machine to sew knits?
VANESSA: After lots of experimenting, I’ve found that I get the best results using a regular needle combined with a longer length straight stitch. The stretch stitch feature on my machine does NOT work well for me at all and ball point needles result in skipped stitches. For hemming and topstitching, I love using a twin needle with bulky nylon in the bobbin.
RAE: Thanks so much, Vanessa!
And stay tuned: Vanessa has some exciting stuff going on! She plans to release the Comfy Knit Dress (above) as a multi-sized pattern sometime next year; and she’s part of Willow & Co., a pattern collective that will launch soon.