Monday, September 24, 2012

K is for Knits

K is for Knits...this somehow reminds me of the Monty Python skit about the 'knigets', K is for 'Ka-Nits'.

Right, moving swiftly along...

 Coco Chanel, mother of invention, image from here

I have a confession to make, I seriously underestimate knits and I think I need to start rethinking their appeal.  You see, I don't associate knits with vintage fashion.  Which is obviously a serious mistake because vintage fashion provides some of the best examples of beautiful knits.

First, a bit of a definition.  According to my Simplicity Fabric Guide:
Knitted fabrics are woven from a continuous length of yarn that's manipulated into interlocking loops to create a flat fabric.  The looped construction provides the fabric with much more give and flexibility than its more rigid woven cousins.
For the longest time, I associated knits only with jersey.  But according to the Fabric Guide:
Jersey: This single knit fabric takes its name from the Channel Island that bears the same name, famous for its fishermen's sweaters.  Characterized by plain stitches on the face of the fabric and purl stitches on the back, jersey is found in a variety of fibers including wool, cotton, silk, nylon or blends.
How could I write off an entire family of fabrics?  Especially with such amazing examples such as those designed by Madame Grès who did some amazing things with silk jersey:

Dress, 1940 designed by Madame Grès, from the Met Museum Fashion Archives

Evening gown, 1978 designed by Madame Grès, Green silk jersey and green silk velvet

It is actually Coco Chanel we have to thank for the extensive use of knits in women's wear.  During the war years, when scarcity was widespread and many fabrics were hard to come by, she bought  some jersey fabric and started designing and sewing with it.  This must have been quite ground-breaking as jersey was only used in undergarments and underwear up until that time.  Another reason that Chanel is high up on my list of sewing heros!

While we are on the subject of knits, or Ka-Nits, one woman who knows a lot about knits is Steph who blogs over at 3 hours Past the Edge of the World and I am super excited that she is starting a pattern line called 'Cake'.

According to Steph: 

What’s Cake?  Well- many of us who sew like to make fun stuff: dinosaur costumes, fluffy dresses, excessively quirky 40′s frocks and all manner of clothes which don’t see much wear.  These garments and projects are the “frosting.”

Many sewists use the term “cake” to refer to useful sewn items- pencil skirts, knit tops, knit dresses, jeans: the kind of utility and casual clothes that everyone needs.  Why shouldn’t sewing and wearing those kinds of clothes be great fun?  Why not get the most from your sewing time (and $$) by making garments you LOVE to wear all the time?  Do knit tops and jeans have to be 100% utilitarian and boring?

I don’t think so.

Right now, Cake Patterns by The Consulting Dressmaker is in production.  The first pattern, Tiramisu, will be available by early November and closely followed by others.
Check out Steph's blog this week for the Tiramisu Circus and Pre-Sale!  And sign up for her email alerts for new patterns, here.

In closing, are you a Ka-Nit convert?  Or do you stay away from those funny creatures?  And I'm curious, who's your sewing hero?


  1. Debi I have never been a ka-nit lover either, but then I discovered merino jersey, fabric of the Goddesses. I LOVE it so much. It is nice to sew and I am building up a few pieces with it. So warm too. I detest synthetics, even the feel of them makes me feel like I am being suffocated, images of being wrapped tightly in plastic cling film haunt me. So merino is fabulous. And it drapes. But I am still not sure if it is readily available in the Northern Hemisphere too. If it is, chances are it came from Down Under! :)

  2. Ooh, I like knits!   I never get excited about sewing with them, but the knit garments I've made have gotten the most wear of anything in my handmade wardrobe by a long shot.  I'm not sure I have a sewing hero, so to speak, but I sure get lots of inspiration from other sewing bloggers like you!

  3. I have been experimenting sewing with various kinds of knits.  My favorite, because of the drape, is rayon jersey. I have some sweater knits in my stash that I am going to use to make some winter cardigans and I like using baby rib knit for casual shirts.  As for sewing heroes, I appreciate learning from Claire Schaeffer books and sewing bloggers!

  4. J'adore sewing with jersey knits, but I'll freely admit that the polyester double-knits made in the 1970s at a factory down the road from my house have scarred me. They didn't ravel, or fade, or ever ever ever wear out. All they did was absorb body odor and hold sweat and heat against one until the point of passing out. NOT a fan of non-jersey kanits for sewing.

  5. Oh!  I was reading the post and thinking "ooooh, I'm going to link to this later this week" and then I saw Cake.  Thanks for the love, Debi!  :)

  6. I went to a Madame Grés exhibition in Paris last summer, needless to say it was fantastic! It really put sewing with knits into a whole new category! 

  7. As a previous poster wrote, I'm also used to the 70s ka-nits, and definitely not a fan of them.  Having recently discovered the worlds of online fabric ordering, am expanding my fabric stash and my closet.  As I enjoy wearing cotton knits, your knowledgeable post has encouraged me to try  others.  Perhaps a rayon ... that would tempt me.  As for a sewing hero/heroine, agree that bloggers such as yourself really inspire.  Thank you so much for this series!

  8. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:17 PM

    Looking forward to buying my Tiramisu!!!  I'm hoping you can convert me over to the land of knits :)

  9. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:18 PM

    I definitely agree! In fact, it might be the non-jersey knits that have kept me from really exploring the larger knit family!

  10. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:19 PM

    I'll have to try rayon jersey...I bet I would love it too!

  11. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:19 PM

    Awww..thanks Ginger!  I definitely feel the same...sewing bloggers rock!

  12. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:20 PM

    Ok, now I MUST get me some Merino jersey.  Sounds divine...and perfect for Scotland...and for 40's dresses....

  13. Debi_myhappysewingplaceSeptember 27, 2012 8:22 PM

    I definitely need to try more knits too! It's great hearing which ones people enjoy sewing with!  And thanks so much for your sweet comment!!


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...