How To’s for trimming with knit strips is the subject of my column in Sew News way back in the April/May 2018 issue! When the editors accepted my proposal, I had no idea how much ADDITIONAL knowledge I would gain as I tested and tested and tested knit strips, grain, and rolling. As I'm doing quite a bit of 'Up-Cycle' sewing with knits these days, I needed a 'refresher' myself, so I dug this up from the many posts I archived from my now defunct 'OLD BLOG', to be RE-published here at my NEW BLOG.
Which Way DO Knit Strips Roll?
I always assumed that cross-grain cut strips would be the best, as the most stretch is found cross-grain, but jerseys (single knits) curl towards the right side, exposing the wrong side – NOT pretty with a printed knit! See the fabric on top in the picture below. SEW….. for printed knits, lengthwise cut strips are the answer, since they curl to the wrong side of the fabric, exposing the right side.
Until I discovered that some prints (in my healthy stash) are printed on the WRONG side, I was scratching my head. For prints like this, cutting on the cross-grain achieves curling to the wrong side, exposing the printed side. See the fabric at the bottom in the picture below.
To Clarify ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ Sides of Jersey Knit Fabric
The jersey at the bottom above (burgundy and cream) has been printed opposite of the norm, as it is printed on the ‘course’ side of the jersey, not the vertical ‘ribs ’ side of the fabric, as with most jersey knit prints.
‘Ribs’ – vertical ‘rows’ ‘Courses’ – horizontal rows
THEREFORE, on fabrics like these, printed on the ‘reverse side’ of jerseys, the crosswise grain curls to the wrong (un-printed) side of the fabric with tension applied, exposing the right ( printed) side of the fabric.
Experiment! Weight, print (or not), and grain will all yield different results.
Conclusion: lengthwise strips that roll to the wrong side (exposing the right side of the fabric) will generally work best for this technique.
Therefore, this is my recommended TECHNIQUE:
Cut 3/4” lengthwise grain strips
Lay strip on the Base Fabric so that the ‘pretty’ or desired side of the curling Trim Fabric is exposed as it curls. Anchor with a few stitches to start. Stop with the needle in the fabric.
Pull the Trim Fabric to establish the curl, but then let it relax as you stitch. Do NOT pull the Trim Fabric, or apply any ‘tension’ to it as you stitch. Beware: it is really quite a task to do this without ANY puckering of the base fabric – especially when using cross grain cut strips.
Hover a good steam iron over the trim and give a shot of steam as you encourage the ‘roll’ of the Trim Fabric.
Observation re Sew News Tunic
When you read my above instructions, then look at the blue/maroon tunic feature garment in the Sew News magazine, you’ll likely observe the puckers around the lower part of the garment, where the tunic attaches. Boohoo. All I can say is that on my normally full rather than super skinny body, this hemline is stretched and it doesn’t pucker. On the skinny model on which they have photographed it, it puckers. I’ve learned for future magazine articles to ask to approve photographs for the article. On the other hand, if I hadn’t just pointed this out to you, you’d likely not have observed it at all. Right?
I STILL have this top and wore it ALOT in recent years! This year, especially, it does seem that the longer 'tunic' length tops have now moved out of fashion. As always, fashion changes...a good reason to SEW! This top is actually back in my 'To RE-DO Stash', thinking I'll bring the burgundy flounce up higher on the blue T to bring it into 'today's fashion'.
Anyway, I just want to emphasize that you do NOT stretch the strip as you apply it to a garment - or you'll be CERTAIN to have puckers when it 'relaxes'. I've even gone to hand-basting it onto the garment to get it placed precisely, then often put monofilament thread in my needle so that the stitching is invisible. Be sure to check out my Black, White & Silver Elvis Up-Cycled T-Top Blog coming up next!