We have been chatting a lot about how frustrating it can be to sew with knits, and I hope that you aren't finding that discouraging. I only share these points of frustration with you so that you can avoid all the pitfalls I've had over the years with my own sewing practice.
With sewing knits, a major factor in getting nice, even, non-skipped stitches is in the choice of your needle. If you don't have the right needle, it's going to be virtually impossible to sew through your knit fabrics with any ease.
Luckily, there are only a handful of needles to choose from when it comes to sewing knits:
- Universal Needle
- Jersey Needle
- Stretch Needle
- Microtex Needle
Typically, you'll want to opt for a Jersey or a Stretch needle for your knit projects.
Both needles have a rounded tip (with a stretch needle being slightly less rounded than a jersey needle) which glides through your knit fabric rather than puncturing it. If you have ever found little holes forming along your seams in your knit garment, chances are the needle you are using has ripped through the knit loops, causing it to slowly unravel.
Jersey needles are probably the most common and will work for the largest variety of knit fabrics with ease. Generally, you will opt for a stretch needle when you have fabric with high amounts of stretch in it caused by elastic threads running throughout.
Universal needles are an OK choice, but not the best for sewing knits, or really anything. That's not to say they are bad in anyway, just less than ideal.
They are great if it's all you currently have and you don't wish to spend more on a specialty needle, but if you want the best results, it is wise to purchase a few different style needles for the variety of fabrics you might be using regularly.
Microtex needles are for any and all fabrics that are just being butt heads and refusing to work with your other sewing needles.
Microtex needles have a very thin acute point and glide through the most challenging of fabrics. I was only recently introduced to these magical needles after struggling with a swimsuit material where nothing I did prevented major gaps of skipped stitches.
But the microtex needle came in and saved the day! so if you have tried EVERYTHING in your power to work with a particular knit and nothing has worked, it's time to give the microtex needle a try. What's also great is that this is not a knit specific needle- it's also perfect for sewing fine fabrics such as silks as the thin needle point doesn't snag the fibers creating puckers and pulls as you sew!
Isn't this color coded chart amazing? It'll help you determine what needles you currently have even if you have long lost their packages!
Before I wrap this up, there is just one more thing to discuss: Needle Size.
Generally, needles come in a variety of sizes each suited to a different fabric. Below I have listed a few generalities for sewing knits base don things I have sewn as well as things I have read (cause I haven't yet sewn all the fabric!):
- Size 60/8: Great for really fine fabrics and the slinkiest of knits.
- Size 70/10: Great for finicky fabrics that seem to skip stitches on anything higher. Perfect for lighter weight jerseys.
- Size 80/12: This is a good size for mid-weight knits. A very universal size and typically will do the job well on most fabrics.
- Size 90/14: For heavier weight knits, such as french terry or fleeces.
There you have it! I hope this has helped clear some of the mist and questions revolving around which needle should be used for which project!
If you have any questions or even your own helpful tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below!