Knit Tips: Stitch Witchery

Posted by: LLADYBIRD on 3:40 AM
For as long as I've been working with and enjoying knit fabrics, I still occasionally come across projects that blow my mind when I realize their full potential. I am specifically talking about Stitch Witchery. Please forgive me if this is something y'all are all familiar with (and collectively rolling your eyes at this point), but oh man, this stuff is amazing.

Stitch Witchery is one of those sewing products that was likely originally intended for people who didn't have access to a sewing machine (or else were just lazy... there, I said it). It's described as a "fusible bonding web" - which is exactly what it sounds like. Slightly sheer (it almost looks like narrow interfacing), it fuses on both sides and creates a lovely, fast hem that doesn't require sewing.

It's also really really awesome for manhandling knits. Just so you know.

The most common use for this stuff is for hemming knit fabrics that are super slinky/can and will be eaten by your sewing machine. Once you fuse it on, it makes the hem nice and stiff so that you can sew straight your merry way without worrying about wrinkles or eaten fabric or WHATEVER. It does compromise some of the stretch of the fabric, but not so much that it renders it unwearble. It also tends to soften up a bit with washing, in my experience, especially if you don't fuse it for as long as the required time. Really, we just want to wrangle that fabric into submission so we can get a decent top stitch going on - we're not looking for a lifetime commitment!

With that being said, I don't bother using Stitch Witchery if I'm sewing on a more stable knit, such as a thick interlock or a ponte. Just the drapey jerseys that make my sewing machine cower in the corner.

 Here's a lil Stitch Witchery example. Both samples are sewn with the same fabric, thread, tension, etc - the only difference is that the bottom sample has Stitch Witchery fused into the fold before stitching. This fabric is a very drapey rayon knit, the kind that can be difficult to sew on a regular sewing machine.

Close-up sans stabilizer. Again, I used a different thread in the bobbin so you could really see what was going on. This is passable for a hem, but it's not ~the best~. The stitches really sink into the fabric and create a tunnel between them, and look at how much excess is on the underside from the fabric shifting!

Close-up with stabilizer - look at the difference! The stitching is much more pronounced and visible, and there is a nice crease at the hem fold. Since the fabric didn't have an opportunity to shift around, the lines are much more straight as well.

Stitch Witchery isn't just good for sewing hems, though! Here are some other things I find it especially useful for:
- Stabilizing seams at points of stress, especially at the shoulder seams
- Attaching pockets - just fuse it to the pocket, then fuse the pocket to the garment and topstitch. Done!
- Stabilizing the edges of a shirt so you can insert a zipper. This means that, 1. Your edges will be perfectly pressed without the use of a million pins; and 2. The edges won't stretch, which will counteract the zipper from getting super wavy once it's sewn onto a stretch fabric.
- Remember when I said you could use Stitch Witchery to set a pocket in place before sewing it down? Well... why stop at a pocket? You can also use this stuff to fuse fabric to your garment before appliqueing it on. AWESOME, right?!