Have you just delved into the wonderful world of sewing with knits for babies, toddlers, or children? Wondering what knit fabrics will work best for your sewing projects and where to get them? Read on!
Knit Fabrics for Sewing Kids Clothes
You are probably wondering which ones are best for your sewing project. Some of the most popular knit fabrics to use for children's clothing include:
- Cotton Lycra (Spandex) jersey knit
- French terry
- Double brushed poly
- Rib knit
- Sweatshirt fleece
- Waffle knit
When I first starting sewing with knits many years ago, l bought a bunch of knit fabric that didn't work for what I wanted to sew. I just didn't know what I didn't know about knit fabric. My goal with this article is to help shorten the learning curve for you, so you can dive right in without wasting time and money on the wrong fabric type.
Some of the most popular knit fabrics for sewing children's clothing include:
Cotton Lycra Jersey Knit (also known as Cotton Spandex) - A jersey knit fabric and one of the most popular knit fabrics for sewing baby and children's clothing.
Cotton Lycra Knit Fabric Comes in Lots of Prints- There is something for everyone and every taste!
Cotton Lycra knit is soft, breathable, and stretchy. The most common fabric content range is about 95% cotton and 5% Lycra. This can vary by a few percentage points either way, but a 95% cotton 5% Lycra blend seems the most common.
95% Cotton 5% Lycra knit was used to make this matching baby outfit.
Cotton Lycra knit is wonderful for slim-fit pajamas, sleepers, leggings, tops, light-weight hoodies, dresses, skirts, booties, swaddle blankets, and so much more.
You can also use cotton Lycra for cuffs, ribs and bands.
Cotton Lycra tends to curl when cut. Use plastic clips instead of pins when putting pieces together to sew. Just be careful not to get the clips jammed under the needle bar of your sewing machine or serger! It could jam your machine and result in a trip the sewing machine repair center.
Plastic Clips from Wawak Sewing Supply
Cotton Interlock - A soft knit fabric that is similar to jersey knit, but is made using double knitting construction that makes it a bit thicker. The double knitted construction means that there is not a right or wrong side. Both sides are the same. Think of it as two layers of jersey knit fabric knitted together back to back. Interlock is stretchy, but not as stretchy as cotton Lycra knits.
These baby pants are made with cotton interlock.
Interlock doesn't curl when cut but can stretch out when sewing if you are not careful. It's best to sew interlock using a serger with differential feed or use a walking foot on a regular sewing machine and a stretch stitch setting. A coverstitch machine makes hemming a breeze. For more on sewing with knits, check out this article by Threads Magazine.
Interlock knit fabric is good for baby clothing, especially baby gowns and onesies, and for tops, dresses, tunics, bottoms, pajamas, and blankets.
French Terry - French terry knit is a soft and comfortable fabric usually made of cotton or a cotton blend. Cotton blend French terry is often stretchy and makes comfy joggers. It has a smooth outer side and an inner side that consists of tiny soft loops. Brushed French terry will have brushed loops giving it the appearance and feel of fleece and is sometimes called fleeced French terry.
These joggers are made with French terry. The top is cotton lycra jersey. The cuffs on both the joggers and the top are made with 2x1 rib knit.
French terry is great is making hoodies, tunics, joggers and other loose pants, rompers, and shorts.
Double Brushed Poly or DBP - Double brushed polyester knit is a 4-way stretch fabric made from a polyester and Lycra blend. It is very soft (buttery soft!) but it is not breathable and therefore not a good fabric for baby clothes.
Double brushed poly can be used to make tops, leggings, and dresses for children as long as your climate isn't overly warm since it's not breathable.
Rib Knit - Not to be confused with ribbing, rib knit fabric is a textured knit made with alternating knit stitches and purl stitches to form its distinctive raised vertical stripes. Rib knit fabric comes in many different rib sizes from tiny 1x1 baby rib to wide 8x4 rib or even larger. Look for a cotton Lycra blend if you plan on using rib knit is for cuffs, bands, and necklines. Rib knit made with a touch of Lycra is more stretchy and has better recovery than rib knit made with 100% cotton.
1x1 Rib knit was to make the neckband and cuffs on these pajamas.
Depending on the rib size, rib knit is good for leggings, baby clothes, tops, dresses, pajamas, and more. Rib knit made with a cotton Lycra blend is excellent for cuffs, bands, and necklines.
So what is ribbing fabric, then? Ribbing is a stretchy knit fabric made specifically to create cuffs, bands, and necklines. Unlike rib knit fabric, it has a smooth surface instead of a raised one. Ribbing knit fabric has excellent recovery due to its crosswise elasticity.
Ribbing was used to make cuffs on this pajama top. See how smooth it is compared to rib knit?
Sweatshirt Fleece - Sweatshirt fleece is a knit fabric, usually a cotton or a cotton/poly blend. Sometimes it has some Lycra to give it better stretch and recovery. It has a flat outer surface and a soft brushed interior which gives it warmth.
Sweatshirt made with sweatshirt fleece and rib knit for the cuffs, bands, and neckline.
Sweatshirt fleece is great for loungewear items such as hoodies, sweatshirts, and joggers.
Cotton Waffle Knit - A three-dimensional textured fabric with a touch of Lycra for good stretch and recovery. Cotton waffle knit resembles honeycomb and can also be referred to as thermal knit.
A great choice for making cold weather items such as cozy pajamas, rompers, tops, and loungewear.
Tips When Purchasing Knit Fabrics
- A little bit of Lycra will add good stretch and recovery to your fabric.
- Cotton knits breathe better than 100% polyester knit fabrics.
- Check the gsm (grams per meter) when buying fabric online to help determine the fabric's thickness. A larger gsm means a heavier fabric. All our custom cotton Lycra jersey knit is 240 gsm.
- For knits that stay bright and resist fading even after a lot of washing, look for knit fabrics that have been printed using a reactive dye process. The reactive printing process uses reactive dye combined with steam to create a design print that is bonded deep within the fabric. All of our Little Rhody custom fabrics are printed using a reactive dye process.
Check out our knit fabric collections for baby and children's clothing
Little Rhody Sewing Co. carries a wide range of knit fabrics for sewing baby and children's clothing. We carry several well-known European knit clothing brands such as Family Fabrics, Stenzo, and Nooteboom Textiles, as well as our own line of curated prints from well-known and loved designers such as Lumelo & Ginger and Wharfedale Studio.