by Shannon Gifford
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  • Onionskin

    Onionskin knit is another "beginner's knit". The fabric is generally printed on the right side, with a subtle pattern on the backing that resembles the appearance of an onion skin. It is very easy to sew! You will fall in love with this semi-sheer fabric with a crosswise stretch. The prints available are sometimes funky and trendy, sometimes romantic and soft. This fabric is easy to sew and easy-care.


    Machine wash, machine dry. This is truly easy care! Do not use bleach.

    Needles and Thread:

    Use a 75/11 stretch needle for your seams. Poly/cotton thread or all polyester thread are the best choices for working with this fabric.


    Should your project require interfacing, a cool-fuse, lightweight interfacing like So Sheer is perfect for onionskin knits. Test your iron's heat on a scrap of the fabric; some prints may need to have a press cloth between the fabric and the iron. Match the grain of your interfacing to the grain of the knit.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Choose a zigzag stitch, 1.0 length, 1.5 width, in order to work with the stretch of the fabric. If you have a serger, a 3 thread overlock with balanced tension will work beautifully. Seam finishes are not necessary in this fabric. It does not fray. Hems can be topstitched with a straight or zigzag stitch, they can be stitched with a twin needle, or use a coverstitch on your serger. Or, if you are so inclined, just trim the hem to its finished length and leave the edge raw. This last treatment is particularly useful on assymetrical skirt hemlines.

    Pattern suggestions:

    If you choose a pattern for knits, choose one for "moderate stretch". Onionskin stretches primarily on the crossgrain; the lengthwise grain is usually stable. Fitted garments will work well if there is some type of closure (zipper, buttons, placket). If you choose to make a garment with no closure, test the neck opening measurement by cutting a sample of the fabric to size and pulling it over your head to test. Onionskin works well in patterns for woven fabrics, as well. It is best used for shirts, tops, skirts, capes, ponchos, and scarves. Because the fabric is usually semi-sheer, it may require a lining. You can line with self-fabric, if you like.

    Creative possibilities:

    For an interesting hem, cut a strip of interfacing ½ inch wide and fuse directly to the hem line marking. Choose a scallop stitch on your machine and stitch on the fabric. Trim the fabric very close to the stitching. This fabric also works well with straight stitch embroideries (not satin-stitch or dense embroideries). Onionskin looks wonderful channel-quilted to a satin backing.

    Try making a fun "jeans" jacket with one of the onionskin prints quilted to a coordinating satin. Use a solid color flannel as the inner layer. Quilt with long (4.0 or longer) stitches in 2 inch wide channels across the fabric. Cut out the jacket, alternating the satin and the onionskin sides to your liking. Bind the finished seams, or use a lapped seam and leave the seams raw (as in current ready-to-wear). Pair your more romantic prints with lace and ribbon to make a beautiful skirt or dress. Top with a tweed jacket or coat in coordinating colors. This look is quite pricey in current ready-to-wear, and you can make it easily! Another terrific option is to line your onionskin garment with stretch lame in gold or silver. Trust me on this one. It's gorgeous.

    Copyright (c) 2018 by EmmaOneSock