Patternmaking With Stretch Knit Fabrics: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Patternmaking With Stretch Knit Fabrics: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Welcome to the world of patternmaking with stretch knit fabrics, where creativity and precision meet to bring your garment designs to life. In this informative article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of working with this versatile material, guiding you through the essential steps and techniques to create perfectly fitting and comfortable garments. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your journey in sewing, this resource will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to excel in the art of patternmaking with stretch knits.

Stretch knit fabrics, renowned for their elasticity and body-hugging properties, offer a wide array of possibilities for creating garments that move and drape beautifully with the wearer. From casual t-shirts and activewear to elegant dresses and skirts, the applications of stretch knits are endless. However, working with this material can present unique challenges, especially for those accustomed to working with woven fabrics. In this article, we’ll explore the specific characteristics of stretch knits, the tools and techniques required for effective patternmaking, and the best practices to ensure a successful outcome.

Before diving into the specifics of patternmaking, it’s essential to understand the fundamental properties of stretch knit fabrics and how they differ from woven fabrics. This knowledge will lay the foundation for effective patternmaking and help you avoid common pitfalls.

Patternmaking With Stretch Knit Fabrics

Embrace the unique properties of stretch knit fabrics to create garments that move and drape beautifully.

  • Understand fabric properties
  • Choose the right tools
  • Master specialized techniques
  • Test fit and adjust

With patience and practice, you’ll be creating perfectly fitting and comfortable garments with stretch knit fabrics in no time.

Understand fabric properties

Delving into the world of stretch knit fabrics requires a thorough understanding of their unique properties and characteristics. This knowledge will guide your patternmaking decisions and help you achieve the best results.

  • Stretch percentage:

    The stretch percentage indicates how much a fabric can stretch in both the lengthwise and crosswise directions. This information is crucial for determining the amount of ease to include in your pattern pieces.

  • Grainlines:

    Stretch knit fabrics have two distinct grainlines: the lengthwise grain, which runs parallel to the selvedge, and the crosswise grain, which runs perpendicular to the selvedge. Understanding the grainlines is essential for ensuring that your garment pieces are cut correctly and hang properly.

  • Drape:

    The drape of a fabric refers to the way it falls and moves when worn. Stretch knit fabrics come in a variety of drapes, from fluid and drapey to structured and stable. Choosing the right fabric drape is essential for achieving the desired look and feel for your garment.

  • Recovery:

    Recovery refers to a fabric’s ability to return to its original shape after being stretched. Good recovery is important for garments that need to retain their shape and structure over time.

By carefully considering the stretch percentage, grainlines, drape, and recovery of your chosen stretch knit fabric, you can make informed patternmaking decisions that will result in garments that fit well, move comfortably, and look stunning.

Choose the right tools

To embark on your stretch knit patternmaking journey, you’ll need to gather the appropriate tools to ensure accurate and efficient work. Here are some essential items to add to your toolkit:

  • Rotary cutter and mat:

    A rotary cutter and mat provide a safe and precise way to cut out your fabric pieces. The rotary cutter allows for smooth, straight cuts, while the mat protects your work surface.

  • Fabric shears:

    Fabric shears are essential for trimming seams and making small adjustments to your fabric pieces. Choose a pair of shears that are sharp and designed specifically for cutting fabric.

  • Pins and pincushion:

    Pins are used to hold your pattern pieces in place on the fabric and to secure seams while sewing. A pincushion provides a safe and convenient place to store your pins when they’re not in use.

  • Tape measure:

    A tape measure is necessary for accurately measuring fabric and pattern pieces. Choose a tape measure that is flexible and easy to read.

  • Tracing paper or tracing wheel:

    Tracing paper or a tracing wheel is used to transfer pattern markings from the pattern pieces to the fabric. Tracing paper is placed over the pattern piece and the markings are traced onto the paper. A tracing wheel is rolled over the pattern markings, transferring them to the fabric.

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With these essential tools in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to create beautiful garments from stretch knit fabrics.

Master specialized techniques

Working with stretch knit fabrics requires a few specialized techniques to ensure that your garments fit well and look professional. Here are some key techniques to master:

  • Stay stitching:

    Stay stitching is a line of stitching sewn along the seam allowance of a curved or bias-cut edge to prevent it from stretching out of shape. This technique is especially important for stretch knit fabrics, which are prone to stretching and distorting.

  • Stretching and easing:

    Stretching and easing is a technique used to ease in fullness or gather fabric along a seam. This technique is often used to join a sleeve to a bodice or to create a gathered skirt. When stretching and easing, it’s important to distribute the fullness evenly to avoid puckering or distortion.

  • Using a double needle:

    A double needle is a specialized needle that creates two parallel lines of stitching at once. Double needles are often used to create topstitching or decorative stitching on stretch knit fabrics. When using a double needle, it’s important to use a stretch needle and thread to prevent the fabric from puckering.

  • Binding edges:

    Binding edges is a technique used to finish the raw edges of a garment. Binding can be done with a variety of materials, such as bias tape, fold-over elastic, or self-fabric. When binding edges on stretch knit fabrics, it’s important to use a stretchy binding material to prevent the binding from puckering or restricting the fabric’s stretch.

By mastering these specialized techniques, you’ll be able to create garments from stretch knit fabrics that are both stylish and functional.

Test fit and adjust

Once you’ve sewn your garment together, it’s important to try it on and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a perfect fit. Here’s how to test fit and adjust your stretch knit garment:

  • Put on the garment inside out:

    This will allow you to see the fit of the garment without being distracted by the seams or other details.

  • Check the overall fit:

    Make sure that the garment fits snugly but comfortably. There should be no gaping or pulling at the seams.

  • Check the length:

    Make sure that the garment is the desired length. If it’s too long or too short, you can adjust the hem accordingly.

  • Check the sleeves and neckline:

    Make sure that the sleeves are the right length and that the neckline fits comfortably. If needed, you can adjust the sleeve length or neckline by taking in or letting out the seams.

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Once you’re satisfied with the fit of your garment, you can finish it by sewing any remaining seams, attaching any embellishments, and pressing the garment to remove any wrinkles.


Have questions about knitting patterns? Look no further! We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you get started and troubleshoot any issues you may encounter along the way.

Question 1: What is a knitting pattern?
Answer: A knitting pattern is a set of instructions that tells you how to create a knitted item, such as a sweater, scarf, or hat. Patterns typically include information about the yarn weight, needle size, and stitch patterns used, as well as detailed instructions for each row or round.

Question 2: How do I choose the right knitting pattern?
Answer: When choosing a knitting pattern, it’s important to consider your skill level, the type of garment you want to make, and the yarn you have available. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with a simple pattern that uses basic stitches. As you gain more experience, you can move on to more challenging patterns.

Question 3: What are the different types of knitting patterns?
Answer: There are many different types of knitting patterns available, including:

  • Flat knitting: This type of knitting is worked back and forth on a pair of straight needles.
  • Circular knitting: This type of knitting is worked in the round on a circular needle or a pair of circular needles.
  • Fair Isle knitting: This type of knitting uses two or more colors of yarn to create stranded color patterns.
  • Lace knitting: This type of knitting uses openwork stitches to create delicate, lacy patterns.

Question 4: How do I read a knitting pattern?
Answer: Knitting patterns are typically written in a shorthand notation that uses abbreviations and symbols. It’s important to learn how to read these abbreviations and symbols before you can start knitting a pattern.

Question 5: What are some common knitting mistakes?
Answer: Some common knitting mistakes include:

  • Dropped stitches: This occurs when a stitch falls off the needle.
  • Yarn overs: This occurs when you accidentally wrap the yarn around the needle twice.
  • Knitting in the wrong direction: This can happen if you accidentally switch from knit stitches to purl stitches or vice versa.

Question 6: How can I troubleshoot knitting problems?
Answer: If you’re having trouble with a knitting pattern, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Check your gauge: Make sure that you’re knitting at the correct gauge. If your gauge is off, your garment will be the wrong size.
  • Read the pattern carefully: Make sure that you understand all of the instructions in the pattern.
  • Use a stitch marker: Stitch markers can help you keep track of where you are in the pattern.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to knit beautiful garments and accessories using a variety of knitting patterns.

Now that you have a better understanding of knitting patterns, you can start exploring different patterns and techniques to create unique and stylish knitted items.


Ready to take your knitting skills to the next level? Here are a few practical tips to help you create beautiful and error-free knitted items:

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Tip 1: Use high-quality yarn.
The quality of your yarn will have a big impact on the finished product. Choose yarns that are soft, durable, and appropriate for the project you’re working on.

Tip 2: Check your gauge.
Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch in your knitting. It’s important to check your gauge before you start knitting a project to make sure that you’re knitting at the correct tension. If your gauge is off, your garment will be the wrong size.

Tip 3: Use stitch markers.
Stitch markers are small, removable markers that can be used to mark the beginning of a row, the location of a cable stitch, or any other point in your knitting. Stitch markers can help you keep track of your place in the pattern and avoid mistakes.

Tip 4: Take breaks.
Knitting can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, but it’s important to take breaks to avoid fatigue and eye strain. Get up and move around every 30 minutes or so, and take a longer break every few hours.

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes when they’re learning to knit. The important thing is to not let your mistakes discourage you. If you make a mistake, simply rip it out and try again. With practice, you’ll learn to avoid common mistakes and your knitting will improve.

With a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to create beautiful and unique knitted items that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Now that you have a better understanding of knitting patterns and techniques, you can start experimenting with different projects and creating your own unique knitted garments and accessories.


Knitting patterns are a valuable tool for creating beautiful and unique knitted items. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, there are patterns available to suit your skill level and interests. By following the instructions in a knitting pattern, you can create garments and accessories that fit perfectly and reflect your personal style.

In this article, we’ve covered the basics of knitting patterns, including how to choose the right pattern, how to read a knitting pattern, and how to troubleshoot common knitting problems. We’ve also provided some helpful tips to improve your knitting skills and create beautiful finished products.

With a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to master the art of knitting and create beautiful knitted items that you’ll cherish for years to come. So pick up your needles and yarn, and start knitting today!

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