Which knit fabric should I use?

How to choose knit fabric.

Not all knits are created equal and not all knits are suitable for all knit patterns. And you can’t even really depend on the type knit to help give you a clue, either. A jersey might be really soft and light with plenty of stretch, or it might be thicker and with only a little stretch. Some interlocks have lots of stretch, some have very little. This post is probably not the definitive guide to choosing knit fabric, but it sure is a good place to start.

pineapple knit fabric tee Hey There Threads Basic Tee pattern


Like all of Hey There Threads patterns, the Tee is designed for your kiddo to wear while they’re busy playing, so when possible, a cotton knit is always preferable over a polyester or synthetic knit. Cotton is more breathable and will keep them cool.

If you’re buying your knit in person (and not online) check that the knit has good recovery. That is, when you pull it and stretch it, does it go back into place or is it left stretched out a little? If it doesn’t recover now, it’s not going to wear very well, particularly on little people who can be not so kind to their clothes sometimes. If you are buying your knits online, some places like the Remnant Warehouse will send you a sample for a small fee, otherwise, just be aware that knits are not always suitable for the purpose you had in mind.

What does GSM mean?

Sometimes you’ll see fabrics described as 150GSM or 150 GSM or GSM: 150. GSM means Grams per Square Meter, or, how thick and heavy the fabric is. The lower the number, the lighter the fabric. If you’re making a tee to wear during Summer, a GSM somewhere in the range of 100-150GSM is a good place to start. Heavier interlocks of around 180GSM make a nice weight long sleeve tee for Winter. GSM is not the only thing I take into account when I’m buying knits, but it is a handy indicator to be aware of, particularly if you’re buying online.

Which Spoonflower knit should I use?

Spoonflower has come a long way since it first launched. The colours no longer fade after the first wash and because they are digitally printed, the design process is much faster and accessible to anyone. It’s allowing current trends to filter down far quicker than they ever have before and I really like that we’re no longer having trends chosen for us, we get to choose them, and if we can’t find them, we can make them. These days there are a heap of knit options to choose from on Spoonflower, some are more appropriate for kids clothes than others.

Performance piqué

This is the cheapest knit option, however it’s more suited to workout gear for adults. It’s made from polyester which means it will have very little, if any, shrinkage, has a good amount of stretch across the grain (across the width) and excellent recovery (meaning it bounces back and keeps it’s shape), and while not a negative, it’s good to note that colours also look slightly dull compared to other substrates available. It’s not terribly comfortable for little kiddos to get around in all day long as even though it’s moisture wicking (meaning it’ll draw moisture and sweat away from the body) I speak from experience when I say it’s kinda like being wrapped in a plastic bag if you wear it during Summer. I also speak from experience when I say it makes a mean Maxi skirt to wear during Winter! Because it’s kind of like being wrapped in a plastic bag…

Performance knit

This is another that is more suited to adult workout gear than it is for little kids. It has some stretch across the width, excellent recovery, nice bright colours but lighter colours can be somewhat opaque. HOT TIP: Do not use this fabric to make yourself a maxi skirt in lighter colours, unless of course you are ok with the world seeing what colour knickers you’re wearing that day.

Modern jersey

The modern jersey is a polyester spandex blend and has plenty of stretch and good recovery in all directions. The printing process means that smaller, finer prints can look blurry and it doesn’t have a nice crisp finish like some of the other substrates. It holds colour well and the print isn’t distorted after being stretched but this fabric would be much better suited to a bigger, bolder print than one with lots of fine lines and details. Despite being a polyester blend, it is quite cool and comfortable to wear.

Cotton Spandex Jersey

I’m a fan. Nice and thin, good stretch and recovery, but handles colours not quite as great as some of the other substrates. I think you’re better to find a bolder contrasting print vs one with lots of fine lines and details, but this one is a winner for me. Great for little kids and big kids alike.

Organic Cotton Knit

If you’re not sure which one to start with, this one would be my suggestion. It handles colours beautifully, is easy to sew with, has some stretch and great recovery and even though it’s a little thicker, being an interlock, the organic cotton means it’s nice a cool in Summer and warm in Winter. This is a good weight to have in your stash as it is versatile and can make a short sleeve tee, long sleeve tee, light weight jumper or comfy trackies. (The pineapple tee above is made from this one.)

Sports Lycra

Does exactly what you’d expect a sports lycra to do. 4 way stretch, meaning it stretches both in width and height, excellent colour and definition in the prints and I think would make a fabulous leotard or pair of swimmers. Would I make a kids tee out of it? I currently can’t see a reason why the lycra would be preferable over any one of the other knit fabric choices, especially seeing as it is the most expensive, but COULD you make a kids tee from if you really wanted to.


The Basic Tee is heading into testing shortly and will be available next month. If you’d like to be given a heads up when it releases and get the special release price before it goes up for good, leave your email below. Love ya!

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