Experiments with knits #1 – Colette Mabel skirt

I find sewing with knits very frustrating.  The different weights and stretch properties mean there is a lot to think about when matching pattern to fabric.

But when a knit garment goes well, they are such useful and wearable things to have.  Two of my Mabel skirts are the most-worn things I’ve made since I started sewing.

So I’m going to try to get better at sewing knits!

My plan is to make the same pattern in two (or more) different knit fabrics, and see what I learn.


The first test subjects are my three Mabel skirts.  They all have the same modification – I omit the back vent to give a more figure hugging line.

The black one – above – is made from scuba knit.  Scuba is a fine, smooth knit, usually made from polyester.  It doesn’t drape particularly well and is often used for body con garments.


I’m not a fan of artificial fibres so didn’t think I’d like this fabric, but it’s my favourite of the three.  It was very easy to sew, the hem looks nice and stays straight, it doesn’t crease and it looks as good now as when I made it.

The second Mabel I made from a medium weight navy cotton jersey (not pictured).  I loved this one.  It was very soft, with more drape than the scuba.  But it was more difficult to sew, so my hem wasn’t straight, and it pilled badly after a few wears.

And finally, this one, from a small remnant of sweatshirt knit.  The thick fabric means it’s not very flattering (which is why you aren’t seeing it on me!) but it’s so comfortable and cosy.  A skirt to be worn with in winter, at home, with a big jumper, and woolly tights.   I had to sew a deep hem as the narrow hem kept curling up.


So that’s the end of the first experiment.  Lessons learned – I’m going to be less prejudiced against artificial fibres, and I need to find out how to sew better hems!
I’m not sure what to do about the pilling problem.  It’s annoying to throw away a skirt I like after a few wears.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have.  How do you select knit fabric?

3 thoughts on “Experiments with knits #1 – Colette Mabel skirt

  1. Mabel is a great wardrobe staple, and definitely a good simple make to experiment with – I love the way you styled it in the first pic 🙂 I feel like it lends itself best to stable knits, like ponte, as a drapier fabric won’t hold the shape as well.

    Knits are weird aren’t they? They are so easy to wear, and easy to fit, but choosing the fabric and sewing with it is a lot trickier than with wovens, for some reason. There is so much to consider: fiber content, direction of stretch, how much stretch, and weight. I’ve personally found that with knits, you seem to get what you pay for. The times I’ve found what appeared to be a ‘great deal’ have turned out to be not such a great deal after all, as they pill and wear out so much faster than the really good fabrics do 🙂

    And then there is the whole other problem of actually sewing with it: getting the right stitch with the right amount of stretch, so that it doesn’t tunnel or pull or break… that’s something I’m still working on, and is different with every single project. Wovens are far more forgiving that way!! 🙂

    1. Thank you for such a great response! Yes, I think economising with knits is a bad idea, I shall spend a bit more in future. It’s lucky for them they are so great to wear, or I don’t think many people would bother to sew knits!

      1. You’re so right about that – I definitely don’t bother sewing with them if it’s something I can easily find a good fit and price in RTW, like tees and tank tops 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s