Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Session 3- Lesson 2 Pressing Tools and Tips for Working with Knits

Session 3 - Lesson 2

So Sorry! I disappeared for a while there! I wrote this weeks ago and didn't have it quite finished so here it is at last.

These  past weeks, I talked about pressing tools and how to use  them. Needless to say, a good steam iron is the most important pressing tool you can own. Mine is the Olysso Pro and gives off lots of steam. I love it. An iron cleaner is a necessity as well. I use Rowenta      and it works great for me.

PRESS CLOTHS...I try never to press directly on the right side of fabrics unless I test for  results first. I use silk organza because you can see right through to your seams. They work great.

THE CLAPPER...This tool is almost always on my ironing board. It's used to get a nice crisp seam and is usually used in conjunction with steam, The idea is to steam the seam ,them clap down on it holding  the clapper down firmly for a few seconds before moving on.

THE TAYLOR BOARD... is a tool I use especially when pressing the seams of collars, lapels, or for any seam that might show an imprint on the right side if pressed flat against the ironing board. I also have a homemade SEAM BOARD for the latter that is especially useful for pant leg seams.

PRESSING or TAILOR`S used to shape collars, to press curved seams such as at the hip area, bust darts, princess seams, etc. I have a FOOTBALL STAND to hold my ham up when I need  it  to stand upright.

SLEEVE BOARD...This is probably the most used of my pressing tools besides my iron . I use it to press sleeve caps ,underarm seams , pant  and sleeve hems, cuffs , curved waistbands, and any number of other things. I could not do without this one.

SLEEVE ROLL...Can be used like a sleeve board but not as easily. It`s good for sleeve seams . I have one but admit it is not used often.

SEAM ROLL... Mine is a homemade tool used to iron seams in pant legs or sleeves. It's rounded so the imprint of the seam won't show on the right side. ( My husband used two lengths of rounded trim which he glued together and I covered in layers of cotton flannel. )

And finally my HAMMER used mostly for denim but it's also handy for bulky collar points . or any bulky areas . I do suggest you use a cloth to cover more delicate fabrics.

Working With Knits...Part 1

 When you want to sew a garment using a knit fabric, here are some  of the guidelines I use:

1. Choose a pattern that is especially for knits. That info will be on the back of the pattern

2. Also on the back of the pattern ,you will see a gauge which will tell you to use  a 4 inch double layer piece of your knit fabric. If it is suitable, you should be able to stretch it at least to the end of the gauge . If not , your garment will probably end up being too snug. You can try using a larger size  but a muslin is a good idea in this situation.

3. As usual, prewash your fabric. If you're going to put your finished garment in the dryer, then you must dry the fabric in the same way. I never put made-by-me garments in the dryer so I hang my fabrics to dry.

4. Polyester thread is strong and a good choice for knit garments.

5. As for sewing machine needles, it may be necessary to try different types on a particular knit fabric. I start with  Universal 70/10 or 80/12. If that doesn't work, I try Ball point, Stretch or Jersey needles.

6. What type of stitch to use ! A good question and you may want to experiment according to the knit fabric you are using.
    I've gone from using a small  zig zag stitch  of 1.5 width and 2.5 length as suggested by Sandra Betzina to a 2.8 length straight stitch ,as suggested by Peggy Sagers.
   The reason for this is that a zig zag stitch is so hard to unpick if I make a mistake.
Peggy worked in Ready To Wear and a straight stitch is what is used there . I don't experience "popped " stitches with a straight stitch so that's what I've settled on.

7. BUT, for hems, to be sure not to get those popped stitches I use a twin needle. For tips on using a twin needle, please click here as I've covered that topic before.

8. ALWAYS  baste your side seams   rather  than using a regular stitch , try your garment on and tweak the fit . This will save you a lot of grief!

9. If your fabric is very stretchy, you may want to stabilize your shoulder seams. to do this, I use clear elastic. Click here for a brief lesson on using clear elastic.

That's all I can think of for now. If anyone out there can add to these, please leave me a comment  and I'll be happy to edit this post. I would be most grateful.

Happy Sewing from


  1. Diana, I've learned to stay stitch knit necklines as soon as I take the pattern off the fabric, particularly on very stretchy, fine knits. Ponte doesn't need it so much. This really helps the dreaded gaping or floppy neckline!

    Thanks for your lovely blog! Kathy

  2. Diana thank you for the tutorial. I do stretch sewing for grandchildren and have found it essential to use the zig-zag stitch for strength. I was reluctant at first thinking the seam when pressed would look bumpy but can't tell the difference. However you are correct that it is more difficult to undo. Grrrrrrrrrr

  3. Diana thank you for sharing your knowledge. I may have missed it but where is your link for clear elastic.

    1. So sorry! I forgot to link it. It's done now so you can click on the word here and it will take you ther! Thanks for pointing this out to me! Diana