Tricks for sewing a shirt in a knit fabric

November 20, 2008 9 Comments

Tricks for sewing a shirt in a knit fabric

November 20, 2008 9 Comments
Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

Jersey shirt made from a La Mia Boutique pattern.This is the first pattern that I’ve sewn from the Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique. It’s from the October issue, which I’ve blogged about before. The design is pretty military inspired, and I was hoping to pull off a Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan look (of M*A*S*H fame). But the end result is more space cadet I think. I guess it’s the embroidery from Sublime Stitching that adds a certain Star Trek touch. Still like my shirt though. I’ve reviewed the pattern over at Pattern Review.

Sewing a shirt using stretchy knits is pretty tricky, so I used a few handy helpers:

Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

  • Transparent elastic
  • Spray starch
  • Iron-on adhesive tape
  • Light weight interfacing.
The transparent elastic is for stabilizing the shoulder seams. The spray starch is for keeping folded and pressed jersey in place. The adhesive tape is placed between the inner and outer collar stand to keep it in place when topstiching.
The interfacing is Vilene H180, the most light weight fusible available in Sweden. It’s great for knits as it has some crosswise stretch and is so light that the knit fabric will still be supple after the fusible is applied.Pressing thin jersey can be really hard as it doesn’t hold folds very well, but here are a few tips on how to get neat folds:

Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

A paper ruler is a great tool when pressing knits. The notches represents 1 cm each.Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

Press the seam allowance against the edge of the paper ruler.Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

Spray a little starch over the pressed edge and iron again to fix the starch. This will keep the fold in place.Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric
Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

This is what it looks from the outside. The pressed side will be the inside of the sleeve cuff and thus topstitched in place. The outside will be sewn together with the sleeve so there is obviously no need to press that side.Tricks for sewing a shirt in knit fabric

Johanna Lundström

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  • Christina November 21, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Very helpful info here! I really need to make one of those paper rulers.

  • kbenco November 21, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Your shirt looks terrific. It looks so well made that it could be a woven, but I bet it is much more comfortable to wear – and travel friendly!

  • luckylibbet November 21, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Very good information here. It’s so wonderful that you write thoroughly about your process. Thanks.

  • Johanna November 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you!

  • Amy January 4, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I like these tips! I bought a 1-yard piece of “thick” Dri-fit and have been wondering what to make. Sometimes I want something other than another workout t-shirt. Maybe a shirt-shirt with a collar and cuffs, and I can have something that looks dressier but I could wear to dance class! I will let you know how it goes, if I go that route.

    • Amy January 5, 2017 at 6:13 am

      Or, Johanna, what would you recommend for a Dri-fit piece – one yard, gray lilac? 😀

    • Johanna January 5, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Is the fabric super stretchy or more stable? If it has moderate stretch you can totally do a shirt, just find some good fusible light weight interfacing and do a some samples and also test washing the sample in water to see how the fusible behaves on the knit. I always interface the under side of the cuffs, placket and collar then I assemble it just like I would with a woven shirt. Good luck with your project!

      • Amy January 5, 2017 at 6:10 pm

        I would say more stable. It stretches, but not like WHEEEEEEEEE! 70% stretch. I will follow your advice and wash my sample cuff or placket! I don’t know whether I should try a simple blouse (collar) with a placket but no buttons. I suppose some design will just leap out at me one day. Thanks!

        • Johanna January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am

          Just start experimenting, and you’ll see what will work 🙂 I personally love making more elaborate details in knits, both for the challenge and because knit fabrics are such a wonderful and easy material to wear so it’s nice to make something more stylish once in a while. Stabilizing the fabric is the trick, I also rely a fair bit on stay stitching, fusible bias tape and Wondertape to make sure the fabric will cooperate.

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