How to determine knit type through fabric stretch

I’ve been going through my new patterns trying to figure out what project to make next.  I figure I should make something using knits since I have quite a lot of them (mainly because they’re all I could sew when I was pregnant).  Also, I need something that has a little more give since my current weight isn’t quite where I’d like it to be yet.  Here are some of my choices, I’m looking for basic wardrobe builders or things that I can wear pretty often!

While looking through the fabric choices for these patterns, I noticed that they require different types of knits.  The Renfrew top calls for stable knits while the Vogue patterns call for lightweight double knits and two way stretch knits.  I found this kind of confusing (beginner seamstress here!) so I consulted my fabric “bible,” Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide which I have on my Kindle, and I thought I would share a few tips with all of you.

To determine fabric stretch, fold your fabric crosswise 3 inches from the edge.  The crosswise grain runs perpendicular to the selvage.  I’ve made a simple illustration here for those who may need it:

How to determine lengthwise and crosswise grain

Next, mark a 4 inch length on the fold line and stretch.

Using stretch to determine the type of knit fabric

Here’s the cool part, by measuring how much your fabric stretches, you can determine the type of knit that you have:

  • Stable knits stretch 1/2 inch or less
  • Moderate stretch knits stretch around 1 and 1/4 inch
  • Power stretch knits stretch at least 2 inches
  • Two and four way stretch knits will stretch 2 inches both crosswise and lengthwise

Hope this helps!  🙂

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4 responses

  1. Ok, so if I fold the fabric crosswise (with the crosswise grain), wouldn’t the fold be on the vertical left or right on the smaller picture if the crosswise grain is going horizontally across, as the picture says? I tend to think too much, and am now confused!

  2. Ok, KatGirl again. Turns out all I needed was a hot shower and my internal CAD-CAM to kick in. No idea what I was picturing before, but it was opposite of ‘with the grain.” I GOT IT NOW!!! What a ninny. Thank you!

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