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Piecing with Knit Fabrics

As we were preparing for the Fredericksburg Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, Carrie took on the task of creating a sample top with the fabric from one of our new knit bundles featuring a bright floral print on black with solid black or green.  Because I was using pieces left over after preparing the bundles, I decided to feature the print with both solid colors – green and black. 

After looking for inspiration on Fit for Art’s Pinterest board for Knit tops, I opted to try piecing on the diagonal using a tested technique. You may have seen these pieced Tabula Rasa Knit tops at a trunk show or in our booth which were crafted using our rolled edge seam technique — sewing the seams on the outside of the garment with a rolled edge stitch on the serger.  You will also find samples featuring this technique in the Photo Gallery on sheer and cotton jackets; look for detailed instructions in Swing Variations for the TRJ.

Pieced Knit sketch

The design is built on my Full Front Crossover version of Clever Crossing Variations because it already features a diagonal line on the front.  Here is the sketch of the pieced knit tee design. The front V-neckline is carried over to the back neckline, making it easy to finish both openings with the basic binding technique.

The first step was to trace off the Front and Back patterns and divide them into the pieces in the design.  A seam allowance was added at each cut and then the Front and Back laid out together to check for accuracy.  Each new piece is carefully marked with a grain line for ease of layout and cutting and labeled with its assigned location and fabric color to help with construction.

Checking my work!

I kept the paper pattern pinned to each piece until ready to sew it to its neighbor; otherwise it would have been very difficult to figure out which way to orient some of them!  I also had to carefully plan the order of construction to take advantage of the framework provided by the rolled edge seams.  One of the keys to making this technique work is to sew the adjoining pieces wrong sides together on your regular machine, then follow the stitched seam line as you run it through the serger on the rolled edge setting. 

The front and back units assembled with black binding.

The two triangles at lower front were joined together first, and then sewn to the large diagonal floral print piece.  Next the right upper Back piece was attached to the right Front at the shoulder seam, so binding could run all the way along that unit.  The left upper Back piece was attached to the left front yoke insert at the shoulder seam, and again binding run all along that unit.  Next, the two units were pinned together crossing at the front and back neckline and topstitched through all layers.  Finally, the lower back piece was added to complete the front/back unit.

In the midst of this process, I began to have grave doubts about choosing to sew a knit on the diagonal.  Despite my efforts not to stretch while sewing, the seams were coming out wavy.  Do you ever question your sewing plans mid-project?  This happens to Rae and me time and again!  Because I was running out of time to finish the top before leaving for the Expo, I gladly halted work and threw the unfinished top in a bag to bring along.  Rae kindly reminded me of this mid-project phenomenon and encouraged me to finish the top; she even took it to her Notable Knits class to use as a sample, assuring me that her students thought it worthy of finishing.  Despite the temptation to abandon ship, we are usually pleased with the result after seeing a sewing project through to completion.

After returning home, the project was completed, adding cuffs to the sleeves as one more place to repeat the solid colors. 

Having finished the top, I like the visual dynamic created by the diagonal lines framing the top. The vision was sound. but the method was not right. Bottom line, I wouldn’t recommend utilizing this technique with a knit on the bias, but don’t rule out projects on the grain or cross grain like the two samples at the beginning of this post. Look for more details and photos of this top in this week’s posts on Facebook and Instagram.

How do you handle it when you begin to have doubts in the middle of a sewing project?

Happy Experimental Sewing! Carrie

5 thoughts on “Piecing with Knit Fabrics

  1. I would like a pattern for this! By

    1. You can draft your own on your favorite tee pattern. Clever Crossing Variations is easily adaptable!

  2. I really like the design using the diagonal. Would it work better to cut the pieces so the seams are on the crossgrain rather than the bias/diagonal? I’m thinking of the great bias designs in dresses created this way – from Vionnet to Tom & Linda Platt, to Fashion in Harmony patterns. I may have to perfect a Clever Crossings variation of my own to try this!


    1. Interesting idea. Let us know how it goes Janee!

  3. Glad I found this page. I have some leftover knit fabrics that I’d like to piece together in order to make another dress. This method will suit nicely.

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