I can't help myself, my plump puddings. I simply cannot help myself.
When gorgeous fabric sits on my shelf, it eats at me from the inside out until I am in a fever pitch of excitement.
Do I sometimes go in and touch it, rub my fingers over it, and talk to it a tiny little bit? Maybe yes, but that is non of your beeswax. Your beeswax is not on my shelf. However I did tell a couple people that I was planning a little tutorial on sewing knits, so that is what I shall do.
It costs $16.95 a yard. Yes, you read that correctly. $16.95. I will hold on a minute while you try to regain your breath. If you are a Dollar-a-yard buyer from Walmart, then I must kindly suggest you step your cheap little way off the edge of my page, and over into a little room where I will meet you with a word from the fabric overlords. I do not waste my talents on fabric that is cheap, with cheap, inferior content. I sew a garment that will last for years, I often finish the garment with hand stitched details, because that is what makes a handmade garment truly shine. There are homemade clothes, and then there are handmade clothes. Trust me when I tell you there is a vast divide between the two.
Back to the tutorial. I am totally self taught in the art of sewing knits, so forgive me if I am less then perfectly professional. I also apologize if any of my small folk made it into the pictures. I can't always be sure where they are, and to my consternation they are sometimes tentacled onto me in some form or fashion, and honestly, there are just so many of them!
I started off with my own design the Peartini T-shirt pattern, which I lengthened slightly and gave a bit of a shirt tail hem. I love this pattern because it gives me a wonderfully comfy T-shirt, that is fitted on top, and flares over my (sturdy German, childbearing) hips that are always wider then what commercial T-shirts are made for. This is also a sleeveless pattern, made in a clever way that it is much more snug under the arm, eliminating that awful gap that shows far more undergarments then the southern lady in me would be comfortable with. It has a banded neckline, and a simple hem. Plus, there are only 3 pattern pieces to cut out.
I humbly apologize for my awkward duck bill hand, but I had to demonstrate how important tension on your serger is. You are only using your serger, right? We are entirely sewing this T-shirt with the serger, and you must have the serger equipped with stretch stitch needles. You won't touch Beatrice er..whatever you called your sewing machine, until the shirt is ready to be hemmed. Check out the visible stitches at the top of the T-shirt. You should not be able to see stitches, even when you pull the seam open quite far.
This is how your seam should look. Isn't that pretty? Its also stretchy and won't break easily. (you are welcome)
This is how my serged seam looks from the inside. Feast your eyes on that perfection! Is yours skipping stitches? Make sure you have stretch stitch needles in your serger.
Let me quick catch you up to this point. I put right sides together and serged the back, right down the middle. Same to the shoulders, and now I am ready to attach my neck band. I measure it around the front and roughly three inches of the back. In this case it was 23 inches. I had precut a band the full width of the fabric, approx 2 inches wide. I now cut 23 inches of it, and then again, right sides together, and rather quickly serge it together.
As you can see, I pinned the middle back, middle front, and the sides, purely to mark them. Do this, and you will be ensured to have even, beautiful neckband.
Ok, I know this part is a little confusing, but I now moved the side pins, 1 inch closer to the back pin on each side. This gives you the perfect amount of ease to adjust for the bigger size of the front of the T-shirt, compared to the back.
You now pin that bit of confusion on the right side of your T-shirt. match the back pin to the back of t-shirt seam, the front to the front, and the off-set sides, to the shoulder seams.
This part is so extremely important for a perfect matched seam. Kindly try to look away from the incredibly awkward old-man-hunch of my fingers, and focus on the seam placement of the band, and the back. You want the seam allowance to turn opposite ways, like a puzzle. Am I making sense? I am afraid I am not. Focus my blueberries, focus on the seam allowance. Puzzle it together, like so. sigh... I wish you could see me demonstrate.
You will start serging just behind the seam, and without stretching or pulling, carefully serge over the seam allowance on the middle back. Once you are past that critical stage, you will gently ease the band to the length you need it to be, to the first pin. Do this all the way around, as you serge, and remove the pins.
You will now sew the band onto the armholes of your shirt. Start the band at least an inch before the armhole, and when you come to the end, keep serging for another inch. This will help you get a perfect match when you sew the two together down the sides. Keep the tension on the band about the same as you did the neckline. That means stretch it as you go. Don't stretch much at a time, or it will curl and become a mess.
You are now ready to sew down the sides of the shirt. You will again serge it, and you must knot the end so that your serge does not unravel. This is a very simple, quick and effective method.
Hold the two right sides together, pin at the seam. Place your fabric under the foot and carefully serge until your knife gets to the pin. remove the pin and continue by faith. :) You will want the needles to sew only about a quarter inch into the band before you stop and do the magic knotting trick.
You will stop with your needles down in the fabric, lift the foot, and carefully pull the thread out the back, fold it forward underneath the foot.....
Lower the foot and keep serging down the side. You did it!
A perfectly neat, secure seam.
Now catch up the other side and you are ready to hem, and steam this gorgeous T.
Oh, before I forget, all that careful snuggling together of the two sides, and the nifty little extra inch on the ends, made for a flawless join under the arm. Can you see past the scribbles on my sturdy amish oilcloth sewing table cover? Zoom in and look at that fabulous join!
Setting up your double needle for hemming is as simple as winding two bobbins with a bit of thread, put them on the dispensing rod with the thread going in opposite directions. Now you simply hold the threads together as you wind it around the bends and down into the needles. Place one thread in one needle and the other in the other! You are ready to hem!
Holding the fabric loosely, with your wrong side down, sew with Beatrice (or whatever your sewing machine is called) and hem that darling T until you meet where you started. Clip all your threads. Iron the bands and armhole bands from the wrong side with the iron. Take a steamer over your whole t-shirt for that perfectly smooth proffesional look.
Now you are ready to slip into your handmade t-shirt and enjoy!
As usual, my 12 year old son took all these pictures just a minute before we flew off to the church ballgame.
I am carrying my utterly gorgeous Urban Southern Bucket Bag. I cannot get enough of these simple, classic, leather bags. I participated in a naming contest for the newest tote, The Regina Tote, and I was one of two people who won! The prize was incredibly generous and I got this bag, and another one, that I cannot wait to show you. My jeans are super soft Express jeans that I altered with a yoga band to fit my belly that keeps determinedly growing. My necklace is a gorgeous Plunder pendant strung onto a butter soft, bit of my husbands torn leather shoelace. (yes, I am that person) Eventually I will have to stop telling you what my accessories are, because I only wear a tiny handful of repurposed jewelry.
The late afternoon sun was so bright, and upon looking at these pictures later, I was simply pleased to find at least one picture with my eyes open, Also here you can see just how closely the underarm fits. I feel no need to bless the world with flash views of my bra, plus my German grandmas would turn over in their graves. Well, at least one of them would.
Don't be afraid of asking questions. I am almost always sewing, when I am not mothering, wife'ing, schooling or keeping the small flock of wolfes fed as my 2 yr old says, (plural for wolf)
Now I must bid you adieu, my plum puddings. For as I sit here, beside my small errant daughter who woke up on her humble little pallet, all in a sweat, and miserably needy, I find myself needing a snack, and vaguely unhappy. I shall wander away, into my kitchen, in a minute, to feed the tiny addition to the flock that I am gleefully carting around. I hope you enjoyed this humble attempt at explaining some of the conundrums of knit-sewing, and can put it to good use, sewing your own wild, or vanilla, as the case may be, wardrobe of T-shirts and dresses.