Updated on October 2, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Sweater knit is an apt name given to knits that are used to sew sweaters. What else! it is the fabric used for sweaters. And also for a lot of tops and outerwear.
It looks a lot like a hand-knitted sweater fabric with its thickness, fluffiness, and texture with a somewhat open pattern than on other knit fabrics.
So if you want knitted clothes without going into all that work knitting the fabric, these fabrics are an easy way out. You get the knitted look from machine made fabric.
The sweater knit fabric is a great choice to make sweaters, of course, and cardigans, tops, ponchos, skirts, capes, scarves, dresses, hoodies, etc. The fabric is suitable for making anything that needs a moderate amount of stretch and warmth. They are soft and comfortable on the body.
Types of sweater knits
There is more than one kind of sweater knit fabric.
One is a close-knit fabric that is quite stable and dense but at the same time has enough drape. It may have a smooth surface on the top and a zigzag surface on the back.
Another type has a lot of stretch (2 way) than the other kinds.
Yet another sweater knit fabrics have an open weave construction. Hacci is an open weave sweater knit fabric which is not see through but has a looser weave made with thick yarns.
Some of them have a lacy appearance and are quite textured. They may be see-through.
How to sew with sweater knits
Sweater knits have a medium stretch so you will have to take care of this first and foremost when you start to sew with the fabric. Treat the fabric like any other knit fabric.
Use a stretch needle (jersey/ballpoint needle) and a synthetic thread (Polyester thread). A zig-zag stitch is used to sew the seams on most sweater knits.
A narrow zig-zag stitch has enough stretch to accommodate the stretch of the fabric. But on lacy sweater knits the zig-zag stitch may cause extra stretchiness so a straight stitch with a universal needle is preferred. A coverstitch is used for professional finish.
Take care of the fabric edges after cutting – this fabric frays a lot. So you will need to finish the fabric edges without fail. You can just zig zag the edges or for a better look apply binding.
Prewashing is a good idea – but do wash by hand and also do not twist or apply too much agitation to prevent damage to the fabric surface. Lay flat to dry.
Steam pressing is recommended to prevent fabric flattening. To steam press, you need a steam iron. Use the steam function, keep the nozzle with the steam some 1-inch above the fabric, and allow the steam to work the magic in removing the wrinkles.
Do not move the fabric while it is hot, as the fibers will be weak.
Sometimes you may want to press, if so then use a terry pressing cloth. Keep the textured surface down on the terrycloth and press from the back to prevent the texture from flattening.
Underlining is preferred for garments made with sweater knits and this will increase the longevity of the fabric. This is a preference. Use stretchy thin fabrics as interfacing/underlining as you cannot heat apply fusible interfacing on this fabric. What you use depends on the type of knit you have. Tricot knit fabrics are usually used as lining.
For areas like buttonholes which you need to interface, use a fusible tricot interfacing.
For open weave sweater knits, you may have to use a thin stretch fabric underneath which matches the skin color or the fabric color – as the interfacing or the underlining will be visible on the outside.