Actress Kirsten Dunst in a knit dress by Rodarte at the designers' Fall 2009 show. Photo: Mark Von Holden/

I used to be terrified of sewing with knit fabrics. Then I started noticing all those expensive knit T-shirts that didn't even have hems--just the raw edge for a finish. I soon realized that knits could be some of the easiest garments around to create. Now when I'm feeling like a quick evening project with maximum fashionista value, I'll whip up a knit dress, skirt, or shirt. Here are some tips I've learned along the way:

  • No special machine required: I used to think that I had to get a serger (the machine that makes the ready-to-wear overlock stitch) to be able to sew with knits. But a basic sewing machine's straight or zigzag stitch works just as well, as long as you stretch the fabric gently while sewing. The seam will then give with the stretch of the knit fabric.
  • Pattern please: Since knit garments don't require as much ease as woven garments, you'll want to make sure that you get patterns that are specifically made for knits. Just ask for help at your local fabric shop to identify if a pattern is for knits, but it's generally indicated on the pattern envelope, along with a rule for gauging stretch. Here's a great video on placing a pattern on a knit fabric.
  • Don't sweat the finishes: You heard it right - finishing your seams is not necessary since knits usually don't ravel, unlike woven fabrics, which need seam finishes. That means that much less time in making a garment, even for the hems, if you wish. And if you insist on seam finishing, try these tricks.
  • Sewing with knits primer: There are many articles online offer information on creating garments with knit fabrics, but most of them aren't that reliable. I consider this one of the most essential and fabulous knit primers around.
For more DIY Design articles, click here. Next week: Understanding bias or the diagonal stretch of a woven fabric is one of the most important factors in making gorgeous clothes.