It can be such a challenge figuring out the right vs wrong side of any fabric, let alone a knit one. But with a few simple tricks, you'll be able to see for yourself which is the “right” side of your fabric and which is the “wrong” prior to cutting out and sewing your pieces together backwards!
Side Note- I am using quotes around right vs wrong for a few reasons:
- In the end, you get to decide which side you like best, regardless of if someone else says its the right side or the wrong side. It's your choice and no one is going to (or should) tell you that you made the wrong choice. They aren't you and you made your choice for your own reasons and that's all that matters.
- Sometimes... it's nearly impossible to tell the right from the wrong side of a fabric without using a microscope, so does it really matter if you mix the two up while sewing? As long as you don't create two left sleeves or something sewing with whatever side you want is fine! No one should be walking up to you with a magnifying glass to examine your garment. Especially if they aren't wearing their own #memades.
Ok, now that my disclaimer is out in the open, let's look at some sample fabric.
The majority of knits I happen to find in fabric shops generally fall under the classification of a jersey knit. Jersey knits are incredibly easy to find and are used to make so many different garments, from tees to leggings to dresses, etc.
A jersey knit has a flat side and a piled side. The flat side is comprised entirely of little v shaped stitches, also known as knit stitches, while the piled side is comprised entirely of little wave shaped stitches, also known as purl stitches. In knitting terms, jersey fabric is made entirely from a stockinette stitch.
When you pull a jersey fabric, the "right" side tends to have a striped pattern to it.
It's subtle, but if you look closely enough, you can catch a glimpse of it. A jersey will also tend to roll towards the "wrong" side of the fabric if you pull at its selvedge edges, which can make it challenging to cut (I've got a blog post all about conquering these challenges HERE), but helpful when trying to figure out which side to work with.
(8/16/22 UPDATE: The above suggestion works primarily when stretching an uncut piece of jersey material. If you have already cut into your material for a previous project, the fabric might roll instead towards the right side. Thanks Jojo for pointing that out in the comments below!)
Every once in a while, you may come across a knit fabric that seemingly has V-stitches on both sides of the fabric! Don't fret- your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. You have simply stumbled upon a double-knit fabric, which sounds exactly like what the name implies.
A double knit fabric is literally two pieces of fabric that have been fused together in the knitting process, generally with interlocking stitches within the fabric itself. This is most likely where the term Interlock came from to describe that type of fabric as well.
This kind of fabric is brilliant to work with as it's much more stable that a single knit jersey fabric, and you don't have to worry about the "right" vs "wrong" side as they are both the same!
Of course there are SO MANY different types of knit fabrics out there, I only wish I could delve into them all! But for now, I will leave you with a few examples of common knit fabrics you might come across in your sewing journey. Some are easy to tell the right vs wrong side whereas others are more of a challenge. Don't be afraid to examine your fabrics up close when at the fabric shop, ask loads of questions, and above all, simply have fun and experiment with your knit garments! Who knows? The next big trend might just be mixing and matching the right and wrong sides of the fabric all in one garment- I know I've done it before and LOVED the results :)
Rib Knit (not to be confused with double knit, even though both sides look the same. There is a distinctive rib textured throughout this fabric!)