THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 16, 2006

Knit Gauge

Filed under: Fabric — Gigi @ 10:43 am

When working with knits, it is important to know the percentage of stretch your particular fabric possesses. If a pattern calls for 50% stretch and your fabric only has 25% stretch, there will be problems with fit! I learned this the hard way when I made a swimsuit out of Qiana when I was in high school. It turned out great but I couldn’t get it on.

Most patterns for knits will have a knit gauge (or Pick-A-Knit rule) on the back of the envelope as on this Simplicity pattern:

Other patterns will simply give you the percentage of stretch required. Yet others will give you both – as on this Kwik-Sew pattern:

To make it easy to figure the percentage of stretch, I have taken an old school ruler and made my own gauge. Using 5″ as the base, I have marked off every half inch beyond that in 10-percent increments. Easy, cheap and very handy for those of us who love to sew and wear knit fabrics. With this ruler I can gauge knits up to 140% stretch (12″ mark) although my scanner cut that end off so you can’t see it here.

Simply begin with a 5″ piece of fabric (I prefer to use a folded piece because the cut edges tend to be more stretchy than the body of the fabric) and see how far you can easily stretch it. If your fabric has more stretch than the pattern requires you will want to go down in size (or plan on taking the garment in during fitting), if your fabric has less stretch you’ll want to size up or add extra-wide seams.


  1. Thank you thank you! I just happen to be looking for an easy explanation with guide.

    Comment by Georgene — July 16, 2006 @ 11:22 am

  2. Gigi – you’re a genius! And there is something really satisfying too about making your own tools.

    Comment by Phyllis — July 16, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  3. That is awesome! Gigi, you’re great! I always learn something new and valuable here!

    Comment by Erica B. — July 16, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  4. Great idea Gigi, thank you!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — July 17, 2006 @ 5:21 am

  5. Great information, Gigi. Thanks! I was just looking at two panty patterns this morning–one wanted 40% stretch and the other 70%–wondering how to best pick fabrics for these.

    Comment by Beth H — July 17, 2006 @ 6:51 am

  6. I have been wondering if there was a user friendly way (read idiot proof at 1 in the morning) to do this. Thank you Gigi.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 17, 2006 @ 9:46 am

  7. What a great idea! I am making up a ruler right now.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 18, 2006 @ 7:14 am

  8. Brilliant Gig! This is a MUST for those of us sewing a lot w knits. Don’t know how you thought of it, but I sure am grateful you did šŸ™‚

    Comment by Nina — July 18, 2006 @ 9:00 am

  9. You’ve provided exactly the information that I was after – thank you!

    I’ve put a link to this article up on my blog. Is that OK?

    Comment by Fiona — July 21, 2008 @ 7:27 am

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