How to Lay a Pattern on Stretch Knit Fabric


Sewing with knits can be a rewarding experience, because the garments will stretch to fit, unlike woven fabrics. However, laying out patterns for knits is very different from traditional woven patterns -- you will have to account for stretch and learn to tell the difference between the two sides of the fabric. Additionally, knit patterns are often cut on the fold of fabric, as opposed to many woven patterns which are simply laid flat and cut. With a few simple techniques your knit pattern experience can be highly successful.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Wash and dry the fabric. Pre-treating knit fabric is essential for a successful sewing project. By washing and drying your knits before cutting and sewing, you will see how the fabric shrinks, stretches and wears. Press the fabric with an iron if needed, to ensure the fabric does not buckle when you're laying out the pattern.

  • Find the right side of the fabric. It can be difficult to tell which side is the right side of the fabric on knits. The side of the fabric that appears to have vertical columns of Vs nestled into one another is the right side. The wrong side will appear to have horizontal rows. Additionally, two-way knit fabrics should stretch horizontally, not vertically.

  • Lay the fabric flat with the wrong side facing up, and fold so that the right side is facing up. Many patterns for knits are cut on the fold, so that seams are minimized. Fold so that the fabric, and the resulting garment, will stretch horizontally. Smooth out any bumps or puckers in the fabric.

  • Place the pattern pieces on the folds of the fabric. If your pattern comes with a layout diagram, use that. Otherwise, place each pattern piece on the fabric so that the grain is facing in the same direction on all portions. To maximize the use of your fabric on the fold, try laying the fabric with the wrong side down, and folding in a quarter of the fabric from the right and left sides. This will give you the greatest amount of folds to work with and will minimize long thin scraps.

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  • Photo Credit knitted texture image by Nataliya Galkina from
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