It keeps getting colder and colder here in the Pacific Northwest and I find myself gravitating towards warm, cozy garments to sew up and wear. Lucky for me we just received an amazing batch of sweater knits which are all now available in the shop. We even created a new category just for them! There is so much variety available in “sweater knits” that I thought I would run through a few of the different types, some tips for sewing with them and a few patterns they would pair nicely with.
First, let’s check out the thick chunky sweater knits. A sweater knit is any kind of knit that you would use to make a sweater, cardigan, pullover, etc. They are usually a looser knit than say a jersey or interlock giving them that more hand-knit sweater feel. For the heavier sweater knits, these are the fabrics that are going to remind you the most of a knit sweater- they are plush and warm and may have larger stitches to go with the thicker yarn. Some chunkier sweater knits may have more of a felted texture making it feel more like a stable piece of fabric but still have that great density and warmth. <Learn more about the knits shown below HERE>
Any of these thicker knits don’t need as much special attention as others. You may want to still stabilize the hard working seams, such as the shoulders, to prevent stretching but you typically don’t have to worry as much about fraying or unraveling.
One of my favorite patterns for these type of sweater knits is the Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Magazine’s Premier Issue. This issue also included lots of great tips about sewing with all kinds of sweater knits- including those really loose lacy ones perfect for layering or during the warmer weather months. Check out all of Seamwork’s amazing versions of this cozy cardigan!
Another great pattern is the Lark cardigan from Jamie Christina Patterns. While you can use any type of sweater knit or any knit really, I think it lends itself well to those thicker sweater knits- especially the long version! So warm and cozy- pair it with boots for an awesome winter look.
Next, let’s look at the mid-weight range of sweater knits. These are typically your cotton and rayon knits that are a little bit heavier than a standard T-shirt jersey but have a similar drape and hand. These are the perfect knits for cardigans in any style. I’m partial to the more relaxed flowy cardigans that I can pair with skinny jeans and boots. Dress them up or dress them down- they are pretty much up for anything! A classic button up cardigan is always a wardrobe staple and another great use for these mid-weight knits. <Learn more about the knits shown below HERE>
For these more jersey-like knits you can probably still get away with just serging your seams if desired. If you are worried about fraying or unraveling, you might want to take a bit larger seam allowance (1/2″ or larger) and stitch using a small zigzag stitch and then finishing with the serger or another row of zigzag stitches. It might be helpful to test a small sample and see which result you like better.
Straight Stitch Designs’ Laurelhurst cardigan is one of my favorite draped cardigans that comes with a few different sleeve lengths and variations. It looks great in stripes, textures or even solids. Another great option is the Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan from Shwin Designs. I love the back detail and this one is for sure on my list to make this season!
One more pattern option for a classic button up is the Camas Blouse from Thread Theory Designs. I have seen some really cool versions of this pattern made out of a mid or light weight sweater knit for a perfect cardigan. Love the shape of this top and so versatile.
Last but not least, the lightest weight sweater knits. These often have a very delicate texture and can be very loosely knit or lacy. Although a bit more difficult to work with, these knits are quite stunning and often are able show off unique stitches in the knit better than the other weights. With these knits you want to take extra care as they do tend to fray and unravel due to the looseness of the knit. Add a bit more to your seam allowance and use your zigzag stitch for stitching seams and finish the edge with your serger or another row of zigzag stitches. A knit or mesh interfacing will also be your friend- especially when hemming to prevent fraying and stretching. <Learn more about the knits shown above HERE>
Any of the patterns listed above would be suitable for even these light-weight sweater knits. One more pattern I would like to throw in the mix though is the Aurelia Cardigan from Sew Liberated. I love how classic this cardigan looks- perfect for showing off a more delicate sweater knit. Rather than use a contrasting or matching fabric for the trim, I would use another layer of the sweater knit for a delicate layered look.
I hope that helps demystify all of the types of sweater knits and helps inspire you for your own creations. Now is the perfect time of year to really enjoy this fabric type! Be sure to check out all of the stunning sweater knits available now in the shop HERE.