Sewing Sweater Knit on a Serger
The weather has finally turned cold in my town, so I’m ready to bring on the sweater knit fabrics with full force. I love this time of year because the weather is perfect for getting all cozy near the fireplace and cuddled up with blankets. But when I need to step outdoors, I’m definitely trying to be cute and warm at the same time
If you read my blog post earlier this month, you received some great tips about sewing with sweater knit fabrics. And if you watched the YouTube video, you heard me say that I don’t recommend sewing sweater knit fabrics on a serger.
Well, guess what I’m talking about today? I just sewed this beautiful sweater knit duster on my Baby Lock Vibrant Serger. Hahaha! Now listen, I didn’t say it couldn’t be done. I said I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you’re a new beginner. If you’re new to sewing, I suggest practicing with the serger to finish off your seam allowances until you have some experience before sewing sweater knit on this specialty machine. When you’re ready to sew your sweaters on a serger, I’ve got you covered. Today I’m sharing 3 Tips to help you achieve success when sewing your sweaters on a serger.
Simplicity 8648 - Duster in Two Lengths
First, let’s talk about the pattern I used to sew my duster. This is Simplicity 8648, and I chose it because I love the midriff band with the button closure. I sewed View B, omitted the bottom ruffle, and used the hem length for View A. This duster is so versatile, which makes it a winner for me. With a simple change in fabric, sleeves, and length, the possibilities are endless. I suggest this pattern for advanced beginners. If you’re a new beginner, get some practice sewing garments with less detail before attempting to sew this pattern. There’s a link to the pattern at the end of this post.
Depending on the type of fabric you choose, this garment can be used as a beach coverup, kimono, or a sweater duster, like mine. At first I was calling it a cardigan, until I read the pattern description on the Simplicity website. They describe it as a duster. I always thought they were the same, so I decided to search for the difference on Google.
According to what I found, there are differing views. Several answers said that a cardigan falls around the hip area, and a duster falls below the knee. Others called this floor length garment a cardigan. So, I don’t really know, but I’m calling mine a duster. Hahaha! Let’s just go with that today. What about you? Do you call it a cardigan or duster when it’s below the knee?
The pattern suggests soft, lightweight fabrics such as Challis, Cotton Types, Crepe, Double Georgette, Gauze, Georgette, Linen Types, Silky Types, Voile, and Lace. You’re probably wondering why I used sweater knit. The answer is simply a matter of desire. I wanted a sweater duster and that’s what I made. I’ve had the fabric for several years and thought it would pair nicely with this pattern. I absolutely love the freedom I have to create garments with fabrics of my choice. That’s a HUGE bonus when sewing your own garments. Follow the link at the end of this post for sweater knit fabric options.
It’s acceptable to substitute knit for woven fabrics. However, if your pattern calls for knit fabric, you need to stick with knit because the pattern is designed for stretch fabric. You shouldn’t try to substitute woven fabrics for knits. If you’re new to sewing, follow the pattern suggestions until you have more experience.
Sewing Sweater Knit on a Serger - 3 Tips
To gather information on how to sew with sweater knit, go back to my earlier blog post where I share four great tips that will help you create beautiful sweaters. But today, it’s all about the serger. I used the Baby Lock Vibrant Serger to sew my duster and it handled the fabric perfectly. As part of the Genuine Collection, a line of beginner sewing machines, this serger really is a work horse. I’ve sewn quite a few garments with it over the last couple of years and it’s still creating beautiful seams. Now, let’s take a look at three tips for sewing sweater knit on a serger.
Tip #1: Cut a 1" Seam Allowance
When cutting your sweater knit fabric, extend your seam allowance to one inch. Using this technique tends to reduce the amount of stretching while stitching. If you’re working with a very stretchy sweater knit, this technique will be especially helpful. Whatever seam allowance your pattern includes, add to that amount to create a 1″ allowance. In the demonstration below, I’m adding 3/8″ to a pattern that includes a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Tip #2: Use a 4 or 5 Thread Overlock Stitch
Because sweater knit tends to unravel, it needs more support at the seams and allowances. Therefore, using a 4 or 5 thread overlock stitch is preferable to a 3 thread stitch. Some people like to use a 3-thread overlock stitch to reduce bulk on thicker fabrics, or when sewing garments that fit close to the body.
The 3-thread overlock uses one needle to secure the stitches. The 4-thread overlock uses two needles, providing more protection. The 5-thread overlock uses one needle to create a straight stitch, and a second needle to create a chain stitch. All of these overlock stitches use the upper and lower loopers to secure the seam allowance. I used a 4 thread overlock stitch on my Baby Lock Vibrant Serger to sew my duster.
The seams on my duster are very secure and the seam allowances are completely enclosed. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about my seams coming apart during wear or when going through the wash cycle. I will be wearing this duster for a very long time.
Tip #3: Test Stitch the Fabric
As with any other machine, always test your stitches on a scrap piece of the fabric that you will be using for your project. The last thing you want to do is start sewing on your main fabric and find that your stitches are not set properly for the fabric. When working with sweater knit on a serger, I like to test the stitches in three directions: crosswise, vertical (parallel to the selvages), and on the bias (diagonally). This gives you an idea of how the stitches will perform on the fabric. When testing your stitches, use two layers of fabric, as you will when sewing the garment.
Use the tension dials on your serger to make adjustments to the needle and looper threads until you have a stitch that works for your particular fabric. Sweater knits are available in different thicknesses and stretch percentages which may require adjusting the tension dials. I’m able to use the same settings for most of the fabrics I sew on my Baby Lock Vibrant. However, there have been a few times when I’ve had to adjust the dials. It’s very easy to make adjustments because the owner’s manual has pictures and directions to help you pinpoint the necessary changes.
Ease Fabric While Sewing
Sweater knits can stretch out of shape as you sew, no matter what type of machine you’re using. I gave you four tips on how to prevent the stretching in my last blog post and YouTube video. However, there’s one tip that bears repeating. When testing your stitches, I recommend easing your fabric through the machine while sewing. This will prevent the presser foot from pulling the fabric across the machine causing it to stretch out of shape. Simply puddle the fabric up in front of the presser foot and allow it to feed the fabric through without pulling.
Test all of these tips on a scrap piece of your sweater knit before sewing your project on the serger. Keep testing until you get the desired seam for your particular fabric. Also, make sure you read my post on “4 Tips for Sewing with Sweater Knit.” Combine those tips with the three I’ve provided here to achieve a great outcome when sewing your sweater on a serger. Follow the link at the end of this post .
The sweater duster will definitely get lots of wear because I can pair it with several pieces I already have in my closet. Here are some fun ways I can change it up with different accessories in the future. And, of course, I must wear it with jeans.
So, what do you think? Do you like my duster? Is this something you would sew for yourself? Final questions: Would you try sewing sweater knit on a serger? Do you have a serger?
How about a GIVEAWAY?
Now that I’ve given you three tips on sewing sweater knit with a serger, the team at Baby Lock and I think this is the perfect time for a Christmas gift for someone who’s been wanting a serger.
Baby Lock is donating a Vibrant Serger for me to give away. If you would like a chance to win a new serger, follow the instructions below to enter the drawing.
How to Enter the Drawing
- You must be subscribed to my Email Sewing Community. (Link below)
- You must be a resident of the United States (Baby Lock shipping rules)
- Click the link below (under my signature) to ENTER DRAWING. (use same email address as #1)
- 1 entry per person
- Deadline to enter is Thursday, December 23rd at 12:00 am PST.
The winner will be announced on Friday, December 24th, via YouTube. You will be notified by email when the video is available. I will be posting a video about sewing sweater knit with a serger, and the winner’s name will be called during that video. Then, the winner will be contacted via the email used to subscribe to my Email Sewing Community.
Thanks for stopping by,
Remember: When you live in your DESIGN, it is from there that God SHINES!
Links to Products, Posts & Tutorials
Here are links to products, blog posts, and tutorials I mentioned in this post.
- Simplicity 8648 Pattern
- Sweater Knit Fabric Options
- Baby Lock Vibrant Serger
- 4-Tips for Sewing with Sweater Knit (Blog Post)
- Join My Email Sewing Community
- ENTER DRAWING HERE
(DISCLAIMER: This list contains some affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link, I’ll receive a small commission on qualifying purchases. All opinions in this post are my own.)
(DISCLAIMER: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission on qualifying purchases. All opinions in this post are my own.)