by Shannon Gifford
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Mesh Knits & Power Mesh
This stretch fabric has the delicate appearance of tulle, with the strength of a performance fabric! Take a look at any of the trendiest knit garments in your local boutique, and you’ll likely see power mesh prints and solids somewhere in the mix.
Machine wash and dry. Use cooler heat in the dryer, if possible.
Needles and Thread:
Even though this is technically a knit, you can use a universal needle for construction. Use a size 11/75 for seams. For hems, use a twin needle with a wide needle separation (3.0/90). All cotton, cotton covered polyester, or all polyester threads work well for this fabric.
Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:
This fabric will require a stabilizing element added to the seams, so that the open mesh will not pull away from the stitching. The best option is a thin satin ribbon stitched into the seam stitching. A straight stitch, medium length (2.5) will work for vertical seams, but do consider a zigzag for any horizontal stitching. Make the zigzag medium width (2.5) and slightly shortened in length (2.0). A three thread serged seam will work if ribbon is inserted into the serged stitch. Hems can be left raw, or you can use a twin needle for a finished hem. Another hem option is a bound hem; use a strip of crossgrain mesh and enclose the hem area in the mesh with a zigzag stitch.
Because of the sheer nature of the fabric, and the open holes of texture, your best interfacing will be a third layer of the mesh itself.
Tees, tanks, skirts (may require lining), shirts, scarves, or can be used as trim on other fabrics.
Use solid or print power mesh fabrics as a sleeve on a jersey tee shirt. Or cut a strip of mesh on the cross-grain and use it as a neckline treatment on a tee. One of my favorite contemporary designers created a terrific dress from a solid jersey, and used a mesh overlay…fabulous! Mix mesh patterns with lace, lightweight stretch velvets, even stretch lame, and create a one-of-a-kind tee or top. Or use several layers of mesh to make a gorgeous skirt that is lightweight and comfortable.
Keep every scrap of this fabric; you’ll find many uses for the small pieces! A small piece can be used to reinforce areas in garments from other knit fabrics, much as you would use small pieces of interfacing. Try my favorite extra use for mesh: cut an arc-shaped piece on the fold of the fabric, and insert it into the sleeve cap of a jersey tee. The mesh gives the jersey just the right amount of support, and maintains the comfort of the garment!