Since I got a serger I’ve been dying to make t-shirts. Once I’d gained some confidence with my machine, I found a pattern pretty easily. It’s a nice one with a v-neck and crew collar, and both sleeve lengths, from Jalie Patterns. It’s summer in California, so I went with the v-neck. I also used a ribbed knit for the collar and sleeve cuffs, which made them look sporty.
The collar on this shirt was a challenge at first, but I got a lot better with practice. I was able to speed things up by skipping to the serger for some things too. By the end I was getting pretty consistent results, with a pretty sharp point and width around the whole collar. The biggest challenge is getting the fabric to hang correct FROM the point in the v-neck. I found that when you work the fabric around the collar point, you have to be careful to keep it from bunching and puckering. Just going slow and steady, along with some basting stitches, is the best way I found.
It’s also really, Really, REALLY, important that you test all of your fabrics with your serger. If you plan to have multiple fabrics in multiple layers, TEST THEM THAT WAY! I had to do a number of samples with two layers of ribbed knit and the shirt fabric to test how the collars and sleeve cuffs would sew. The biggest challenge of working with ribbed knit, from what I experienced, is that stitches can stretch it out, especially across the grain where it’s extremely stretchy. You will definitely have to make adjustments to the differential feed of your serger to correct that.
I don’t have a cover stitch machine, which makes what look like straight stitches for knits (esp. on hems), so I had to do some alterations. I didn’t HAVE to, but I don’t like the stretch stitches available on my Singer. To compromise, I used ribbed knit around the sleeve hems, and a blind-hem on the waist. Both of these were new techniques to me, but I had youtube to help with the blind-hem.
Ribbed Sleeve Cuffs
I wanted sleeve cuffs that looked professional, but with a more vintage design. For some odd reason, I thought immediately of Summer Camp movies of the 1980’s, and the tees of that era. Did I capture that in my design?
As for physically sewing the cuffs, I found a way to do it that hides the side-seam of the shirt inside of the finished cuff. It goes something like this:
- Lay your sleeve piece out flat before attaching it to the front and back pieces. Measure the distance of the sleeve circumference.
- Measure and cut a piece of ribbed knit, usually about 2″ wide (with 1/4″ seam allowance that makes a finished cuff of about 3/4″), by the distance of sleeve circumference minus about 3″. This alteration from the sleeve circumference needs careful consideration depending on the ribbed knit used and the fit desired. Just be careful not to go too small as that could make your sleeve pucker around the ribbing and look funny.
- Place the ribbed knit stripe across the sleeve hem, right sides together, gently and evenly stretching it across. Pin. Zig-zag stitch the edge, basting them together.
- When you go to sew the side-seams of the shirt, open out the ribbed knit and sew across it as, like it’s a continuation of the sleeve. It might be a little bumpy over the zig-zagged seam, but your serger can handle it.
- With your sleeve seam finished, and the shirt right-side out, fold the cuff up to the sleeve edge and pin in place (making the nice, ribbed exterior of the cuff).
- Serge around the sleeve edge through the three layers of fabric. Serge over where you started and then cut off the excess threads.
- Pull the cuff down, tucking the serger edge on the inside of the sleeve. Voila, clean and professional ribbed cuff!
There’s a whole technique to making these. Think I’ll do a tutorial another day. Until then, just know that these are like semi-invisible hems, often used in women’s garments, but also can be used in underwear among other things.