They say the third time's the charm, which must be true, since that's how many tries it took me to attach my neckband successfully. Oh, I'm sorry, good morning, readers!
As anyone knows who regularly sews with knits, most (cheaper) knits for sale today are cotton-poly blends with lots of lycra. They are colorful, but tend to be extremely thin and veeerrry stretchy (stretchier than my vintage patterns are drafted for, actually). And droopy. Which means they're unstable. Feeding them into a sewing machine, or snipping to a line of stay stitching, can be challenging.
My striped knit is like this, and it caused me problems until I had a sense of how best to handle it. Making the V in the v-neck, which involves stay stitching and cutting to the stitch line, required that I stabilize the area with fusible interfacing. My first attempt was without interfacing and it was a failure. At first I thought I'd insert the neckband with the V already stitched. I couldn't get the V of the band lined up with the V in the garment (you have to pivot your stitching at exactly the right place).
The band looked something like this (this is a sample made from an old cotton t-shirt that was much more stable.
Next, I tried fusing the area, and I had a bit more success. As you can see, the fabric is already damaged from where I pulled out the stitches from my first attempt. (Ripping seams in a knit is a knightmare.)
I also stabilized the back of the neck.
The results were OK. But the V that I stitched (after inserting the band, as per Serger Secrets) didn't look sharp or perfectly vertical. I'd ended up joining the neckband at the back of the neck, creating another seam (albeit a hardly visible one). And I didn't like how the blue horizontal stripe at the front edge of the V was slightly raised; I'm fussy.
So I decided to cut the entire neckband out and try a third time.
This time I used Lynda Maynard's Couture Sewing Techniques method, where the ends of the neckband overlap at the V. I had much more success and I think it looks more elegant.
I stretched the band (and only the band) as I attached it to the neckline. There's a little looseness here and there, but I'm hoping this will tighten up in the dryer (the neckline has been handled a lot). I used a folded-over piece of horizontal striping to create the neckband, whose edge I serged before attaching it. I attached the band with my regular sewing machine.
I like this shirt and it fits well. I'll probably add a similar band at the bottom and perhaps at the sleeves; just folding up and hemming doesn't look nice on a fabric this thin. (In retrospect, I should have done this before stitching them closed, with an open strip of fabric folded in half like the neckband).
To make the shirt, I used McCall's 3438, a vintage Seventies mens underwear pattern.
I reinforced my shoulder seams with a strip of pre-shrunk cotton twill tape, and I serged my seams with a four-thread overlock stitch. The stitching is a little dense (I tried lengthing the stitch but it didn't make much difference; the stretchy knit feeds through the machine slowly, meaning more stitches per inch) and I may go back to three threads. Since I wanted the stripes to match (and they do), I stitched on my sewing machine first anyway, so I could have simply trimmed the seam allowance with the serger.
There's so much experimentation involved with knits, and I have more shirts to make today -- a tank top with what's left of this stripe (if I have enough) and a solid blue t-shirt. It does take a little longer to stabilize edges with fusible (or twill tape) but I think the results merit it, especially with a knit this droopy and stretchy.
Friends, am I wrong, or are today's knits incredibly thin and stretchy (more so, say, than a traditional mens white Jockey, Hanes, or Fruit of the Loom t-shirt) and unstable?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!