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Tee-Shirt Construction.

Posted: Jun 02 2017

This Tee-Shirt Tutorial will be the basis for a series of Tee-Shirt Patterns that Pattern Fantastique will release Starting with the soon to be live Glacial Tee and our already super popular Aeolian Tee/Dress. This tutorial is a key outline with links to other knit sewing instructions so you can smash out all your Tee-Shirt needs.

Fabric preparation.

Knits are the one fabric type I don't pre-wash. This is to avoid warping which can make cutting a pesky task.  I do expect shrinkage to happen after washing a finished garment, this mostly effects the length. The stretch should maintain fit across the body.  If you are concerned about lengths and shrinkage I suggest lengthening garments by  2.5 cm or 3-5% of what you would like your finished length to be. 

If you have the space lay your fabric flat when cutting knits as opposed to folded this will give you better scope to find the Grainline and knits are usually sticky and hard to get to sit flat and on Grain when folded.

In clothing manufacturing once the layers of knits are laid they are supposed to let the fabric sit for 24 hrs so any stretch can retract after being unrolled.  This happens less and less these days because it slows down manufacturing time.  But it is worth while doing this at home even for an hour, keep it on a smooth surface so the fabric can slip back to shape.

Stabilising.

The back neck and shoulder line of most Tees are key to holding shape in a garment.  For knits this needs to be stabilised, you don't want this to stretch on your Tee otherwise it will look sloppy and possibly fall off the shoulder or have a drop shoulder where they are not intended . We don't stabilise the front neck as it's not usually nessesary and you might need some stretch in the neckhole to get it over your head. 

* All Pattern Fantastique patterns will specify where they need stabilising.

I recommend using a stitched stay tape which you can either Buy or DIY.

1. Measure off how much your will need by running the tape along the seam line on the pattern. Go from edge to edge so the ends will get included in a seamline. 

Sewing Knits Pattern Fantastique

 

2. Place the stitch line of the Stay Tape just to the inside of your seam line. So for a 1 cm seam allowance place the stitch line 8 mm from raw edge. Do this approximately, no need to get too precise.

3. Iron, no steam, on a mid to low heat (enough to melt the glue, not so much you melt the stay tape). 

 * If you are doing a back neck and shoulder line I like to tape it all in one and by pass the seam allowance junction of neck line a shoulder seam. This is to reduce bulk when finishing neck line. 

* For raglan styles you can just do the back neck seam line.

* Those extra points of fabric hanging off back neck, shoulder and under arm pit line are there to assist with handling fabric that rolls up after being cut. It makes it much easier to feed into machines having that little extra tab to hang onto. Trim them once you have finished sewing the corresponding seam - Overlockers will do that automatically.

Sewing.

To prepare for sewing your garment you will need

  • Stretch Sewing Needles aka Ball Point Needles.  
  • Wooly / Fluffy Nylon Thread and, or Narrow Twin Needles.  

 

Purchase Stretch Sewing Kits Here

Stretch Sewing Notions

There are few choices you can make around how you and your machine prefer to Seam, Topstitch and Hem knit fabrics. 

On a very plain Tee I like a Faux Flatlock  or Decorative Stretch stitch to finish with. 

I will often hem my sleeves differently from my body hem depending on how streamline they look.

My machine will happily twin needle through two layers of a light fabric but needs three layers with Wooly/ Fluffy Nylon method without the tension going funny. I like Wooly/Fluffy nylon so I will do a double turn on hems to make that method work for me and my machine. 

I suggest you test and decide how to hem and finish your neckline before you start. This will help with the hem preparation. 

Faux Flat Lock Pattern Fantastique Faux Flat lock

Prep Hems

1.  Overlock raw edges and press your hems or just press for non-overlocking construction.

I know this seems a bit early but whilst your bits are unattached and flat this is the best moment to set them up.  

Here are some hemming options.

Single turned hems.

A.   A single turn of 2.5 cm and a twin needled or faux flat lock stitch, is usually the most straight forward.
It suits most weights and slightly curved hems.

Sewing Knit Hem Pattern Fantastique


Double turned hems with straight stitch and wooly/ fluffy nylon in the bobbin. 

B.   Wider double turn; Turn back Overlocking or 8 mm and then fold again at hem fold (marked on pattern).  
This is best for sleeves or straight hems. 

Sewing Knit Hems Pattern Fantastique

 C.  Narrow double turn; Turn back Overlocking or 8 mm twice. 
       Very suited to super fine knits.  It can be done on sleeve and body hem and around gentle curves.  

Hemming Knits Pattern Fantastique

Tricky Bits on Hem Preparation

Rolling edges and fabric that won't sit still?

Glue stick will be your new best friend here. I haven't found any difference between the fabric variety v's standard glue stick yet. Always test first.

Sewing Knits Pattern Fantastique

Hemming narrow sleeves can be a stress particularly with a light fabric if the sleeve has been seamed already.

I find Merino knits are often happy to snap back in to place but other very light fabrics are better off being hemmed prior to sewing the inner arm seam. 

Pre-hemming sleeves Pattern fantastiqueSeams  Sleeve Pattern Fantastqiue

Back to Construction-

2 . Seam your shoulders or raglan sleeves together. Either with your 4 -thread Overlocker or a Stretch Stitch on your sewing machine. 

Sewing Tees Pattern Fantastique

You don't need to finish knit fabric raw seam as they won't fray.

If you would like to control the rolling of the seam allowance,  use a three step zig-zag on raw seams ( a standard zig-zag tends to raise a channel )

or

Edge stitch the seams to one side using a Wooly / Fluffy Nylon thread in bobbin.

Seam finishes Knit sewing

3. Press your seams.

4. Insert your knit neck band - Full Tutorial Here.

5. Attach the sleeves unless you already have with a raglan.

 

6. Press seam allowances flat usually toward the sleeve.

7. Sew the side seams and press seam allowances to the back body.

6. Finish Hemming and give garment an all over press. 

 

Rinse and repeat!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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