Ribbed knits are the stretchiest of the three main types of knits. Ribbed knits are characterized by the vertical ribs that you’ll see when you give the fabric a little stretch.
100% cotton ribbed knits tend to be very soft and are great for the bodies of tees, pajamas, baby clothing and lots more. They aren’t great for necklines or trim that needs good recovery, though, because they tend to stretch out and not bounce back.
I find cotton ribbed knits the most difficult to work with because they stretch so much. You have to take the greatest amount of care with them to not stretch while you’re sewing. With ribbed knits, a walking foot is really a must! It’ll help prevent seams that look like this (more about hemming tomorrow):
Ribbing is actually a type of ribbed knit. It sometimes comes in a tube rather than flat on a bolt. Ribbing usually has a small amount (3%-5%) of lycra or spandex mixed with the cotton fibers. Because of the lycra or spandex, ribbing is perfect for neckbands, trim and waistbands. (The Comfy Sleep Set in Stitch magazine uses cotton/spandex ribbing for the waistband.)
In addition to the three main types of flat knits that we’ve already discussed, there are knits that have a pile or texture to them. French terry is smooth on the front side and has loops on the back. French terry works well for lightweight loungepants and sweatshirts. Sweatshirt fleece is similar to french terry only the loops on the back side are cut and brushed for a softer feel. Sweatshirt fleece is usually a bit heavier than french terry as well. Both french terry and sweatshirt fleece have very little stretch. Sewing either of them is similar to sewing woven fabrics.
Stretch terry is the fabric that you’ll most often find in hooded baby towels. It’s the opposite of french terry with the loops on the front and a smooth back. Stretch terry is usually cotton on the front with a backing of polyester and has a good amount of stretch. Velour is basically stretch terry with the loops sheared off and brushed smooth. Cotton velour is luxuriously soft and squishy. It, too, usually has polyester in the backing and stretches well. It’s a perfect choice for baby clothing and loungewear, and our favorite use for it this time of the year is in cloth tissues. They are so, so soft on sore runny noses.
Oh, the questions! They are awesome. Many of them I can answer. Some of them, though, have sent me off researching. I love it! Keep ‘em coming!
For an entry into this week’s drawing, add a comment to this post with either a question that you’d like me to answer on Friday–I won’t get to answer them all, but I will answer as many as I can–or comment with an answer to this question from me: Today’s question is, “What is your favorite knit print that is available to purchase today?” If you don’t yet have a favorite, go do a little window shopping and see what you can find. You can start at The Fabric Fairy and dream a little about what you’d spend the $20 gift certificate that Caroline has donated if you win!