Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More finishing details for jersey knits

In making my grey striped jersey dress here, I opted to re-inforce the shoulder seams.  I do not re-inforce the shoulder seams in all my knit garments, but in this case; a long tank dress in a stretchy fabric, where the weight of an entire dress is hanging off those two meagre teensy little shoulder seams, then it is a very good idea to build in a little extra strength in this vulnerable area.
And this is how:
Sew the shoulder seams, and then overlock the raw edges (optional, since you won't see this when it is finished..).
I then cut a short strip on the bias, in a thin but strong, woven cotton.  Quilting cotton is fine for this purpose.
Stitch the bias strip to the dress shoulder seam; directly over the previous dress/shoulder-seam stitching.  The bias strip should be laying over the dress front, as pictured at right.
Fold the bias strip up over the overlocked seam allowance and press.
Fold the bias strip and the shoulder seam allowance back to lie flat over the dress back, and press.  Fold under the bias raw edge to an even width, encasing the shoulder seam allowance, and pin in place.
Top stitch the folded edge down onto the dress.
There!  Now your shoulder seams will be perfectly rigid and strong enough to hold up the weight of the dress without stretching or ever becoming mis-shapen over time....

Now for the armhole and neckline bands...
I've mentioned before how I call this the Metalicus finish, this is merely because I learnt it by studying my Metalicus pieces where I first observed this technique and started trying it out on my own garments.  It probably goes by some other proper name really, but meh, that is my name for it.  It is a very nice neat finish, uses the same fabric, and requires no hand-stitching, expensive twin needles or special machines like overlocking or cover-stitch machines.  And still looks really professional.
It can be used on any raw edge; armholes, necklines, sleeve edges, cardigan edges, Tshirt hems, I've even used it on firm stretch fabric waistbands, dress hems; anything.
(Later edit) I'm adding this to address some comments: if you follow this method the seam allowances will not flip out to the outside and will not need topstitching down!

Start out by trimming the armholes/neckline/sleeve length/Tshirt length; whatever, to the finished desired length.
The dimensions of your band strips are calculated as follows:
Measure the raw edge and cut a strip to exactly this length plus 2cm for hemming.

Now, since my fabric in this example here is a stripe,  I wanted to get the stripes matching with the joining seam invisibly between two stripes.  This meant cutting the band to a different, very slightly shorter length that was ideal compared to my measurements.  In the case of pattern matching like this, it is OK to cut the strip a tiny tad shorter, but NOT longer, than required, but you do not want for the difference in length to be any more than 5%.  If you are trying to match up wide stripes and your measurement looks like it is going to be more than 5%, then it would be best to not bother with pattern matching.  Any differences bigger than 5% will mean that your garment will look bunched up, or "gathered", into the finishing band.
AND, since your stitching line is a longer length than the raw edge, (being a concentric circle of a wider diameter) your band is a slightly shorter length than the stitching length around your neckline/armhole, meaning the band will be stretched slightly during stitching and WILL sit up nicely on the outside of the garment when finished.
The width of your strip should be double the desired finished strip width plus seam allowances...  So for example; say I wish for my neckline band to be a finished width of around 1.5cm, and I am allowing a seam allowance of 1cm.  I should cut my bands to a width of (1.5cm + 1cm) x2 = 5cm; and then add a tad to allow for losing some in the fold-over process, so round it up to 5.2cm.
These are my two armhole bands....
Lay the strip right sides together and sew the short edges together in a 1cm seam to form a ring.
Fold the band in half along its length, wrong sides together.
Pin this ring to the raw edge that you are finishing, right sides together, aligning all three raw edges, and stitch along the seam allowance.
And sorry, I did not take a picture during this stage... but this picture below might give you some idea, with the three raw edges aligned in the seam allowance at the right there.  This is an easy sew; since there is only a slight difference in the measurements of the ring and the raw edge, then there is only a little stretching or easing happening.
At this point, turn out the strip and check to see that the band is sitting in a perfectly even width all the way around, with no dips or lumps or bumps marring the evenness.  If there are any, un pick and re-stitch these bits.
And essentially, you are pretty much finished!
Unless you have an overlocker...  but that is OK if you don't  :)
Since I do have an overlocker I always go over and finish off the raw edges on the inside, but if you don't have one you can pink with the pinking shears, or just trim neatly.
If I have reinforced the shoulder seams with a bias strip as outlined above, then BEFORE OVERLOCKING I trim away that bias strip from the seam allowance, as close to the armhole/neckline stitching as possible to remove some of that fabric bulk that is going to end up inside my band finish (as pictured above)

33 comments:

  1. You always explain things so clearly. However, I am finding I can't read your blog first thing in the am and make sense of it. I literally read this 10 times before I understood it. 8-)

    PS-I get up at 4 am.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I use this binding method but I've never made one this wide. I like it...might have to give it a try. If you have trouble with the seam sitting flat you can use a top-stitch about half a cm from the seam line to catch it down.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes that is a nice easy finish... I have used it only once or twice as I don't do much knit sewing. With your production levels do you ever think to get a coverstitch machine?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I saw a similar technique in an old Ottobre issue several years ago and I've used it ever since. Your pictures are very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing, Carolyn! :) I am making version 2 of a knit top that has a faux wrap (McCall's M6513) and while for this version I am using a more stabler knit than the first one, I kind of worry that the front might still sag (like it does in my 1st version). You mentioned here that it is a good idea to build extra strength in vulnerable areas, I wonder if I added some elastic stabilizer or interfacing or something to the whole side seams of my top (from under arm to hem?) will that work? (I do not have a serger) Will it not be scratchy on the sides? Is it even necessary if the top is more fitted? Sorry for the long question!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks so much for the tips. I've been having a hell of a time seam finishing with twin needles, and I'm ready to throw them away! I'll give this a go next time I'm sewing knits.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Carolyn, regarding your last comment to me, please don't think I intended to criticize your post!

    I was making fun of me and how thick I am in the morning. Really. It was perfectly clear to someone who is awake. 8-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Like everyone else, I just want to say thanks for taking the time to share this technique with so many useful pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for this instructional post. I shall print it off and add it to my sewing techniques folder. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for posting this and explaining it so well. I will have to try this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I also make sure I reinforce shoulder seems on knit fabric with seams great and a reinforcing stitch, depending on the fabric. Thank you for sharing your techniques.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Seams great' is a knit bias tape that is like cotton twill tape. You can get it in black or white.

      Delete
  13. I always reinforce my shoulders, a habit I got into when I first started sewing knits but I do really like your idea of the bias finish.

    Thank you for your technique for binding but I'm a bit confused with your picture with right sides together, isn't it wrong sides together (that is what the photo looks like to me)?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks! I'm forwarding this on to my daughter who is a brand new sewist and just bought a bunch of jersey to attempt some tank tops on her own (I live a 12 hour drive away and won't be able to give her hands on help and a picture is worth a thousand words).

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the tips!!! I'm so going to try that method for binding the edges!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for the hints - Jersey and I have a love/hate relationship and I have ended many a project frustrated by being unable to finish necklines nicely . This technique seems to solve my problems!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I don't know what I was thinking in my previous comment!! lol. My head obviously wasn't in the right space when I said it was a wide binding or... maybe it's the stripe in the photo that makes it appear wider. Anyway 1.5cm is not a wide binding, in fact that's the size I use myself. Duh! :)

    As for the topstitching I only use it when that's the desired look or if a fabric won't play.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh, I love that finish, too! Although for finishing the neckline, I usually shorten the band by about 1/6 to 1/4 of the length, to get it to lie flat better.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is great, Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I do something similar to this with one variation - I don't like the seam allowance sticking out on the inside - plus I don't have a serger. So I press the seam allowances to the interior of the garment, and topstitch on the outside with a three-step zigzag. If I could get my twin needle to work that would be nicer. I don't always do this, but for example with my running skirts where I wanted to minimize chafing I wanted all the seam allowances tacked down smoothly ... Something like yours I might not what color thread to use?!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love your dedication and time to share more than your lovely items but to take the time to share how to make them. xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. You have such dedication and kindness for sharing this. Useful tips to remember.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for sharing this Carolyn.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for sharing the neck/armhole finishing technique. You made me realize I had used it before on a project...and forgotten about it!
    http://bombardone.com/sewingprincess/2011/04/cowl-neck-top-and-tutorial/

    ReplyDelete
  25. Another thank you for sharing, and with such detail and great pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hello,would love to give this a try... can I please ask whay needle and machine brand/settngs you use for this type of project? I find stitches pop with a straight stitch.. your work is so neat.

    Kind Regards

    Zaneta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zaneta;
      I used a straight stitch on the shoulder seams, and re-inforced the seam allowances with a bias strip of woven cotton, to strengthen and stabilise the shoulder seam. All the other seams I basted first with a straight machine stitch, and then stitched over the top of the basting stitches with my overlocker, using a regular 4-thread overlock stitch which is designed for stretch knits. Both my sewing machine and my overlocker are Janome. I hope this information helps!

      Delete
  27. Hi Carolyn,

    Thank you so much. This helps so much, I can't wait to give it a go. Your are very talented. I also have a Janome 644 overlocker I think? I am going to have to play around with the machine settings I think... the DF might need to be adjusted .. I always find my knits ripple.

    Thanks again for your help

    Kind Regards

    Zaneta

    ReplyDelete
  28. Your explanations are very clear- thank you so much for sharing! I enjoy your blog, the way you document your projects and take your photos and the fact that you have a complete self-made wardrobe. I aspire to this also- some day in the far away future...

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for taking your time to share this technique. I love your blog and read it every day. I'm so done with the twin needles and I have difficulty justifying a coverstitch machine for topstitching T-shirt necklines!

    ReplyDelete
  30. This worked for my maxi dress project. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete