I love sewing with knit fabrics. There's nothing like the instant gratification of skipping all the pinning and notching and basting and simply chugging a seam through the serger in one quick, stretchy, forgiving step. Ahhhh....knits. I love them. But you know what I don't love? Finding good ones! In my head, I have this idea of the perfect knit: medium-weight, fluid with good drape (but not so fluid it won't hold its shape), stretchy in every direction, affordable, durable, opaque...oh, and in great colors and prints, too! Is that too much to ask?
I've tried knits from some of the fabric chains and other fabric stores, but in my opinion, Mood Designer Fabrics sets the bar. (And they set it pretty damn high.)
Please note: Mood Designer Fabrics did not supply me with these swatches. I paid for them myself. And they did not ask me to write this post. I am doing it for you, dear reader, out of the goodness of my little heart. ;) And, you know, to document my own quest to find that mystical perfect knit.
Here are my thoughts on eight of their knit fabrics. And don't worry; I have a second set of swatches on the way so I can provide you with comprehensive coverage (along with some prints and more affordable basic jerseys, too). Be sure to check back to get the rest of the stretchy goodness.
Click on any of the images below to go to learn more or purchase on Mood Designer Fabrics' website.
Modal is well known for having a soft hand and very fluid drape, and this fabric doesn't disappoint. Combine modal with spandex (6%), and you definitely have a winning combination. This 66" fabric has 50% crosswise stretch and 30% lengthwise stretch. Because it has a slight luster to it, I can see this as a drapey blouse or dressy t-shirt. It would also make a lovely dress or skirt, but it does become slightly sheer when stretched. This fabric is $14/yard and comes in some gorgeous colors. I love this dark aqua, and the bright salmon is a winner, too.
I was worried this linen fabric might be a bit itchy (because I pretty much always think linen is itchy except in its lightest-weight, woven forms), but it actually isn't. It's quite soft and has a fluid drape. The slightly open weave and variegated coloring make it the perfect choice for a beachy boatneck sweater or wrap. It's described as "tissue-weight," but it feels substantial and durable. It has 20% crosswise stretch. The taupe colored fabric has tinges of purple and gray and is 54" wide. At $14/yard, this expensive-feeling (and looking!) fabric is a steal.
Growing up in the South where "cold" is anything below 70 degrees, I didn't wear much wool as a kid. It has become more intriguing to me since living in Colorado in Utah, but I'm always a bit fearful about ordering it online. Will it itch? Is it scratchy? Are there little hairs sticking out of it? Will it smell funny! (Really!) This wool does/is none of those things. I don't think I would personally wear it next to my skin, but it would make a great skirt, dress or blouse with something underneath. The site describes it as "brushed wool," and it has a bit of a boiled wool look to it. It comes in a 55" width and has what I would call "give" rather than stretch - only 10% in both directions. It is $18/yard.
Okay...NOW we're talking. Holding this fabric is like holding a little piece of heaven in my hand. I'm not even kidding. Can I make sheets out of this stuff? And all my clothes? I sure hope so, because DAMN it is soft. It might be my ideal fabric. I'll stop gushing now and tell you about it. With four-way stretch (I LOVE THAT!) of about 50% in both directions, it would be awesome as comfy everyday t-shirts, leggings, pajamas, kids' wear, loungewear, SHEETS...really pretty much anything. You can see from the photo that it rolls a bit on the cut edges, but it's nothing you can't handle. The fabric is light-medium weight and stays pretty opaque even when stretched. It comes in a 63" (!!) width and lots of great colors. (Can you say PERIWINKLE?) For 100% organic cotton, it's a absolute must-sew at $12/yard. I will be ordering some of this. Now, if it only came in stripes...
Silk for me is a little bit like wool - not in the I-fear-it-will-be-scratchy-and-smelly way (I mean, come on, it's SILK), but more in the I-get-spit-up-on-37-times-a-day way. BUT, if you have a hankering for a REALLY nice, lustrous fabric for a dressy blouse or dress, this is your girl. It almost looks shiny like swimsuit material, but it's obviously more luxurious than that. It has 40% crosswise stretch, so I imagine it would make for some really comfortable career wear or fancy apparel. It is a bit pricey at $40/yard, but I completely believe you get what you pay for. It comes in an astounding 40+ gorgeous colors and is 54" wide.
This rayon matte jersey is another sumptuous fabric that would be great for blouses, dresses and skirts. It has a nice matte finish, so it's a little less ostentatious than the aforementioned silk jersey. As a stay-at-home mom who rarely sets foot in a place that doesn't involve hand sanitizer and changing tables, I could still see myself wearing something made from this - perhaps a date-night dress in the blue color featured here. But, you know, since it comes in 20 colors...I could change my mind about that and maybe go for the maroon or dark plum? (Decisions, decisions.) At $25/yard, you could make an amazing garment for much less than you'd pay for a ready-to-wear garment of the same quality. It is 58/60" wide and has about 10% stretch.
This bamboo jersey is right up there for me with the organic cotton. This fabric is actually quite similar to the organic cotton (4-way, 50/50% stretch, eco-sustainable manufacturing process, soft hand, fluid drape, 64" width), but it has a very slight sheen to it that I don't see in the cotton. (The sheen is really only evident when the fabric is stretched. Nonetheless, it gives the bamboo jersey a more refined feel.) The bamboo also doesn't recover as well as the organic cotton, but it's a barely noticeable difference. I think this fabric would be an absolute dream to sew, and I plan on purchasing some of it, too. It comes in 15 lovely, fashion-forward colors, and it's $16/yard.
Finally, we have wool jersey. This fabric is different than the other wool knit I described above in that it looks more like your typical jersey or t-shirt material. It's also not particularly scratchy, but sometimes wool can give me a little sensory overload. So, I probably wouldn't wear this one super close to the skin. From what I can tell, it only comes in this one (very beautiful and on-trend) color, and it's 54" wide. It has about 20% crosswise stretch and is $14/yard.
Well, there you have it. I hope this post has been helpful and that you can find some great new knits to sew! Do you love sewing with them as much as I do? They're my serger's best friend and my double needle's secret lover! Stay tuned for part II of this review...