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Archive for the ‘Swimwear’ Category

Top 6 Essential Notions for Sewing Stretch Knits NOW!

6 Essential Notions for Sewing Knits!

Have you started sewing with knits? It’s THE fabric of the moment (and really what we wear every day). And there are tons of options to choose from, everything from cotton jersey to active tech knits.

Gathering a few of these must-have tools and notions will really make your sewing life easier. Knit fabrics, especially S-T-R-E-T-C-H knits (those with spandex added for stretch AND recovery) have a few peculiarities all their own. So let these tools and notions help make sewing with knits as easy as pie.

Wonder Clips

Sewing clips

These guys are the best! No more pins! If you have sewn with knits you know how pins can be such a pain–and I hate getting stuck all the time too. These nifty clips were originally embraced by the quilting crowd. I’m here to tell you they will become your sewing friend, and replace pins almost all together. We use them exclusively when sewing swim and activewear. I can’t remember the last time I used straight pins. The “jaws” are really strong, and will hold everything in place until you are ready to sew. Lay in a supply of at least 50 or more. You will thank me later!

Clover Rotary Cutter

Rotary cutter (and Mat)

Knits can be tricky to cut, and they definitely move around differently than a woven fabric does. So make things easy on yourself. With a Rotary Cutter and Mat, your fabric stays on the surface and you cut around the pattern, No more picking the fabric up to cut like you have to do with a pair of shears. And cutting a knit fabric with a rotary cutter is much more accurate too. Just don’t forget the mat. We use the 45mm rotary cutter for most knits (60mm for lofty fabrics like fleece)
and have several 24″ x 36″ mats to lay on our surface as needed (we tile 4 on our cutting table). So start with one nice mat and then add more to your sewing studio as needed.

Tech Elastic

Tech Elastic

Stretch knit fabrics call for stretch components. And ones that can withstand all of that stretching and movement that goes along. New elastics are used in the swim and activewear garment industry, and now we have one that all of us can use. It’s latex free so no allergy breakouts like with traditional elastics. It is also easy to sew and serge through, so you can attach the elastic to edges (think swimsuit or leggings) and not have it gummed up in your needles. Available in the most common size needed- 3/8″ with more widths to be available soon. Here’s a TUTORIAL of how to use Tech Elastic with a serger. You can purchase a pack HERE!

Woolly Nylon by YLI

Texturized Thread

You have sewn with thread for years. Most likely of the cotton and polyester variety. While that thread will work on many knits, and we use a ton of poly cone thread ourselves–there is often a need for a thread that is just as stretchy as the fabric is. And is especially needed in high movement pieces like dance wear, yoga, swimwear and activewear. But it also has use in lingerie and utilitarian items like napkins. This thread is nylon or poly, and is crimped. So it has some “spring” to it, making it stretch and recover–just like the S-T-R-E-T-C-H knits in question. Used primarily in the loopers of the serger and the looper of the coverstitch (not in the needles), this thread is wonder thread, making seams super strong with a ton of give. And it works doubly great with great coverage on a rolled hem on napkins. This is the thread that “fluffs out” after sewing, and has a fuzzy feel to the thread. Tip: Use a dental floss threader to get the texturized thread through you looper eyes.

Dritz 18 inch grid ruler

18″ flexible grid ruler

This is one of those really inexpensive tools that you will wonder how you lived without in your sewing room. A simple 18″ grid ruler lets you measure seams, create accurate markings, walk pattern lines, and measure trims and elastics super quick. Since it is flexible, you can bend it to shape around curves as needed. The one we use has pin holes thru the center, allowing you to use it to make circles and arcs (push pin in one hole, pencil in another) too. When sewing knits this is on our table constantly, checking seams and hems, marking pattern piece adjustments, and cutting elastic to proper lengths. You will find a ton of uses–we have about 5 of these floating around our studio at any one time.

Clover chalk liners

Chalk Liner Marker

 Sometimes you have to make a few marking on your project, and marking on knits can be especially tricky. A marker type just wicks into the fabric–so not a good idea to use. Chalk pencil “leads” are usually too hard to leave a mark on a knit fabric. We have found that the chalk liner markers are a great marking solution for knits. They are available in several colors, leave a slim line or X where you need it, and often can be brushed off when you are finished. I love that they can also be refilled (although I have not had to do so yet–they last a LONG time!

There you go. Our can’t-sew-without-these necessities for creating and sewing with knit fabrics. So no excuses! Grab a pretty double brushed poly or new tech knit fabric and start sewing. Once you start sewing knits AND realize how easy they are with notions like these, you will get hooked! And when you are ready to learn how to sew swim and active wear, check out our courses at DIYStyle® Studio! Our new online courses take you step-by-step, with videos and printables to help you along.

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Peace Out Skipped Stitches!

Free PDF Guide!

Less Stress = More Sewing! Our new motto here at DIYStyle. To that end, we have been working to get some great sewing guides whipped up for you, and our first one is ready to go! You know….all those pain points you have in sewing? We’re here to help, and get you going in the right direction.

It’s an easy to download PDF guide……and best of all it’s FREE! Just click the Lime button below. You will be able to download our “Peace Out Skipped Stitches” guide, AND you will be the first to know when we have another one ready to go too.


Get My FREE PDF Now! 

A lot of our time now is spent sewing with S-T-R-E-T-C-H knit fabrics, and we have figured out a ton of tips and tricks in the process. So stay tuned as we keep moving along this knitwear path. More Free PDF Guides, Ecourses, Haute Knits kits & patterns. Can’t wait to see where the winding path takes us!

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How to Use Tech Elastic & FREE Sample!


Often we are asked “How do you use this new Tech Elastic?”. The solid strip kind that goes into swimsuits and activewear? It’s really not hard at all…..once you know our little secrets!

Of course you will need some Haute Knits Tech Elastic. This elastic is specially made to hold up to active and swim wear, just like you see in top brands in RTW. This is NOT the rubber elastic of old! Latex free makes it perfect for most all applications. See our special try-it offer at the end of this post!


Then, grab some of these Clover Mini Clips. We use these all the time when we are sewing spandex and active fabrics, instead of (dreaded) pins. The new style has a pointed tip, but the original are just as great. You can never have too many of them! These little guys are super strong and hold our elastic right where we want it before we sew it in.

Actually I should say SERGE it on!! Yes, we are sewing stretch to stretch–so we need stitching that will S-T-R-E-T-C-H with both the fabric and the elastic. So thread up your serger for a 3-thread narrow overlock stitch (right needle) with a length of 2.5-3 and width of 6. We typically use cone thread in all areas, but if we need super strength by all means use a Woolly Nylon thread in the loopers.  And we find it helpful to use a stretch needle in our machine to prevent skipped stitches. Check your handbook for specifics for your serger.

So let’s get started:

1) Cut a piece of elastic 2″ longer (1″ on each end) than area to be applied to. Follow the instructions on your pattern or kit for correct length for stretch ratio. Mark the elastic with a pencil–it’s ok. These marks will not show thru.

2) Clip the elastic to the edge of the fabric to be applied, using a few of the mini clips to hold securely in place. Place elastic so you have a 1″ tail at both ends of the fabric. Space the clips a few inches apart. Notice in this pic that the elastic is placed about 1/8″ from the raw edge. You should see just a bit of fabric peeking out under the elastic.

3) Place the tail of the elastic under the serger presser foot, with the tail behind the foot and the needle positioned to bite into the fabric and elastic. The tail acts as an anchor of sorts for you to hold onto and get the fabric piece moving. Start serging, trimming off the scant 1/8″ of the fabric edge as you serge or apply the elastic to the fabric edge. Take care not to nick the elastic, but if you do just a tad it won’t hurt.  Remove clips as you serge, taking care for proper elastic placement (in other words use the clips like pins. Don’t remove until the presser foot is up to the clip). Stretch the elastic as needed to fit the fabric, but don’t overstretch. You should not be stretching both the fabric and elastic, just the elastic to fit the fabric.

That’s all there is to it! The Haute Knits Tech Elastic is synthetic rather than natural rubber. So it glides smoothly under the presser foot without the added talc (what a mess!) that is needed for rubber elastic. And this elastic does not break down and get crunchy like old rubber elastic does.

Try it. It really is a breeze to apply once you get going. And here’s a special offer from yours truly to inspire you to try it out. Just click on the sign below and we will send you a Sample piece of our Haute Knits Tech Elastic for you to try out for yourself! We really think once you try it you will LOVE this stuff! It’s key to making pro quality active and swimwear (not to mention perfect for baby diapers, bedsheets, home decor, kids clothes…I could go on!)

And if you want to learn how to make your own activewear, check out our new ecourse at DIYStyle Studio. We show you just how easy it is, and even have pre-cut kits so you can do more of what you love….Create!!

Allyce & Cindy

Creative Chicks :: Sewing In Paradise!



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