Pique fabric characteristics
A double knit is created by knitting two layers of fabric together with multiple sets of needles.
The structure of a knit fabric can be plain and simple, or extremely complex and interesting. Let’s start with a basic knit structure. Think of a hand knit sweater. Yarn is used to create loops that form a face side and a back side, or knit and purl side of the fabric.
Double knit is literally just that, the structure is doubly knit. This weft knit fabric is created with two sets of needles and more strands of yarn than a single knit. The layers of fabric are knit together as they are formed. When finished, the fabric has two faces or knit sides, and the back or purl side is actually interlocked together.
When to use a double knit
Double knits tend to be firmer and more stable than other types of knits. This makes them easier to sew with, but also less stretchy. Holding a double knit, you’ll notice that the fabric feels firm and thick. This structure is ideal for fabrics that will be used for bottoms, in garments that need durability, or when you want a heavier drape and hand of fabric for any type of garment.
Check for Stretch
If you’re not sure whether your double knit has enough stretch for your pattern, take these steps:
- Find the finished garment measurement on your pattern for a crucial area where the pattern is fitted, such as the bust or hips.
- Measure this length on your intended fabric.
- Stretch this length of fabric to see if it will fit comfortably around your body.
As a designer, the main reason I enjoy working with double knits is the ease of handling when sewing and cutting. They are fantastic to sew with and have a lot of body compared to other knits. This makes them a good knit fabric to start with, and if you are an experienced knits sewist, they are even easier. Due to their structure, rolling is rare, which is a common frustration with some lighter weight fabrics.
Along with being easy to sew, they are also a great overall fabric choice. They don’t wrinkle much, and a quick steam can fix them right up when you’re traveling. The density of the fabric is great for more body skimming garments, and can often hide lines from foundation garments or undergarments. They are my go to for skirts, like the Colette Patterns Mabel.
Some patterns ask for double knit or a heavy knit specifically. If your pattern simply calls for a stretch knit, check to make sure that your double knit will have enough stretch to work. Some patterns provide a stretch gauge or recommended percentage of stretch. If not, check the finished garment measurements to see how much negative ease the pattern has. Negative ease is how much smaller the finished garment is from the intended body measurements (see sidebar).
If you have a tried and true woven pattern, or a pattern that asks for a stretch woven, this would be a great project to try out a double knit. In the past few years, many ready to wear brands have been using double knits liberally in blazers, dresses and pants. They are comfortable and wear well, so going double knit can be a natural choice. Double knits also can look as dressy as a woven. See the tips below to learn how to swap a double knit for a woven fabric.
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