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This article has been provided by Girl Charlee - a specialist knit fabric online shop with a wide range of speciality knit fabrics and exclusive Girl Charlee prints and patterns.  See this website for more information about their extensive range of knits.

Introduction to Knit Fabrics

 Introduction to different knit fabric types

One of the most frequent questions we are asked at Girl Charlee is “what are the differences between your knit fabrics?” or “which is the best fabric to use for a particular garment?”  The terminology surrounding knit fabrics can be a little confusing, especially if you are new to the wonderful world of knits!

There are so many high street fashions made from knit fabrics, which are easy to make yourself once you know which knit fabric to use and how to sew with them.

There are a wide range of knit fabrics available which are perfect for sewing up many different everyday wardrobe items:  t-shirts, sweaters, dresses, tops, trousers, hoodies, swimming costumes… even underwear!  

To help get you started we have a put together a breakdown of the main knit fabric types and the best uses for them.


Cotton Jersey Knits

Cotton jersey knit fabrics - best fabric for sewing t-shirts

Cotton jersey knit fabrics can be 100% cotton or blended with other fibres such as polyester or rayon.  Weights can vary greatly with cotton jersey - generally knits under 200gsm will tend to be more transparent in lighter colours and may be slightly harder to sew.  100% cotton jersey is commonly used in t-shirt type of applications as it has a sturdy hand and wear with a minimal stretch.  Cotton jersey blend knit fabrics with polyester or rayon are very popular knits as they provide a more fluid drape and added stretch, making them suitable for a wider range of uses like tops, dresses, and more! 


Cotton Spandex/Cotton Lycra Knits

Where to buy good lycra or spandex knit fabric in the UK 

If you are looking for a sturdy fabric that is good for leggings, cotton spandex is a great “bottom weight” knit fabric with a high percentage of cotton combined with a small percentage of spandex for stretch and recovery.  Cotton spandex knit fabrics also come in blends with rayon and other fibres that allow for a looser, more drapey hand and stretch that allows for a wider rangeof  uses in apparel and accessories.


Ponte De Roma Knits

What is ponte de Roma fabric and when should you use it

Ponte de Roma knit fabrics are double knit fabrics, usually made of a cotton, rayon or spandex blend of fibres.  Ponte knits are stable, easy to sew knits as they are a good weight, resist wrinkles and creases, and have a soft hand and good stretch. Great for many different types of season-less applications including jackets, tops, bottoms, dresses, skirts and more.


French Terry Knits
 Jersey stitching - sewing with knit fabric

Not to be confused with Terry cloth or Terry towelling, French Terry knit fabrics have a regular, soft and smooth jersey top side with a varying loop piling on the back (in varying length).  French Terry is typically 100% cotton, but can also be found with spandex and other fibres for increased stretch and recovery.  French Terry knits are extremely popular and can be found used in many fashion applications in women’s clothing, while traditionally used for swim cover-ups and athletic bottoms due to their moisture absorbing capability.

Sweatshirt Fleece Knits

Sewing with sweatshirt knit fabrics

Cosy and soft, sweatshirt knit fabric is a sturdy fabric with a smooth knit top side and a lovely brushed soft fleecy wrong side.  Sweatshirt knits are great for the traditional hoodie or sweatshirt tops, and are also good for sweat pants and jogging bottoms and shorts for both adults and children.


Hacci Sweater Knits

Hacci sweater knit fabrics 

Sweater knits, also known as Hacci, have a loopier, open-knit texture than regular cotton knit fabrics and are usually made of blends of cotton and wool, polyester, or spandex. They are generally lighter in weight than traditional sweater material, making them ideal for loose sweaters or cardigans, or trendy flowing tops and dresses.  They are wrinkle resistant and sew up just like regular knits!  


Lycra Spandex Knits
 Lycra Spandex knit fabrics

Perfect for swimwear, sports and active wear applications, Lycra or nylon spandex are usually found with a nylon, rayon, spandex content and have a very smooth hand and a four way stretch.  Also a great fabric for making yoga pants, dresses, tops, dance wear and much more.


Cotton Ribbed Knits

Where to buy cotton ribbed fabric for cuffs on sweatshirts and jumpers

Ribbed knits have 'wales' or vertical rows of stitches that form ribs on both the face and the back of the fabric making both sides appear the same.  Ribbed knits are usually 100% cotton, but can also come with spandex and other fibre blends, and have a natural stretch that make them very useful for cuffs, bands, and necklines.  Rib knits are also popular for use in infant wear and tops and dresses.


Speciality Knit Fabrics

Which knit fabric should I used for my pattern?

There are many other knits which are suitable for more specialised uses, such as faux vegan leather, stretch denim, lace, techno scuba, twill, and many more.  These fabrics all have different fibre contents that give them the characteristics you need to sew up items such as jackets, jeans, and other speciality items.  Just check the pattern instructions to determine the type of fabric you need, and most importantly, if you want to use a speciality knit, test the stretch and make sure it will work for your pattern.


Whichever knit you choose, we’re sure you will love working with them, and like any new material or method, practice makes perfect!



  • You don’t need any special equipment!  Whilst there are speciality machines, needles and threads that are helpful to sewing with knits, all you need to get started is a regular sewing machine and a zig zag stitch!
  • Check the weight, fibre content and stretch of your knit fabric before you buy. 
  • If you are unsure about a particular knit fabric, ask for a swatch or sample to see what it is like.
  • Seek out tutorials and tips for sewing with knits, we have collected some here –

  • Try not to stretch the fabric while you sew. Take it slow and you’ll be fine!
  • Don’t be scared!  Knits are wonderful fabrics which are a lot easier to use than you think and produce beautiful, comfortable clothing with a fit, drape and feel that other woven fabrics can’t replicate.


Visit Girl Charlee to find that perfect knit fabric!