UPDATED (May 2018): It’s been a while since I wrote this post! Check out my more recent post, “Where to find knit fabrics” if you’re looking for great knits!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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