How to sew a T-shirt

Hello and welcome to a new adventure. Today we're going to tackle sewing and finishing the T-shirt we've previously copied, drafted and cut, yay. Let me list a few items you'll need to sew this Tee:
  • sewing machine
  • colour matching quality thread
  • sewing machine ball point/stretch/knit needle  
  • small embroidery scissors or craft snips
  • dressmaking pins
  • measuring tape or ruler
  • marking tool - pencil, chalk pencil, washable felt tip pen, etc
  • iron and board
So, I'm going to dive straight in and start explaining how I sewed this T-shirt and I hope to cover everything. I placed the front and back bodice pieces right sides together and I pinned the shoulder seams together. I chose a stretch stitch on my sewing machine (it's typically depicted by three horizontal lines drawn closely together) and sewed both shoulder seams. You'll notice sewing this stretch stitch takes longer than a straight stitch, in this case it's because the needle takes two stitches forward and then one stitch back (that's why it stretches). I don't mind the slow sewing though, even if a T-shirt can be a rather quick project, I like to take my time and put in all the good energies for a long lasting well loved garment.

How the stretch stich looks
Next up after sewing the front and back together at the shoulder seams, we'll attach the neckband and we'll start by folding the neckband in half lengthways on the right side and press it. Open and bring the two short ends with right sides together and pin in place, then take it to the sewing machine and stitch.

We'll use the seam allowances marked on the pattern pieces, so for the neckband we'll stitch a 0.5" seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open and fold the neckband (now a circle) in half lengthways with the wrong sides together again and press the fold again.


Mark the centre front and back of the T-shirt with pins and do this for the neckband too. Then, lay the bodice out flat right side facing up and match the pins with the neckband pins starting at back, front and shoulder seams, then add more pins gently stretching the fabric to fit the bodice and neckband. As a general rule, the neckband should be shorter than the bodice neckline so that it can stretch and create a stable neckline that sits and not a wavy/saggy one. Sew with the same stretch stitch making sure you're using a 0.25" seam allowance as suggested on the pattern. Take your time when sewing the neckband. When I first started out sewing with knit fabrics I used to hand or machine tack the neckband into place before stitching, just to make sure I'd catch everything, so you could do that until you are super familiar with your fabrics.


Turn the T-shirt on the right side and press the neckline with your iron, making sure the seam allowances are pointing down. Now, you can leave the T-shirt as it is or topstitch closer to the seam line using a zigzag stitch. Yay, neckband superheroes! :)


Now, let's continue attaching the sleeves. Start by folding a sleeve in half to find its center point and mark it with a pin. Match this pin with the open shoulder seam and pin them right sides together. Pin the corners of the sleeve and bodice and then along the seam. Do this for both sleeves and sew.


Press the new seams and with the right sides together match the armholes and pin at the armpits, then corners of the sleeve and bodice hem and then pin along the side seams.


Sew using the suggested stitch and seam alowance then press the seam.


Now for the final steps of this project - hemming the T-shirt. While there are countless ways to finish the hems, I chose a conventional turned hem - so with the right sides together, take your measuring tool and mark 1 inch around the sleeve and bodice hem, fold and pin it then sew with a zigzag or a decorative stitch, then press and voilĂ , you're a T-shirt witch!

I usually use an overlocker machine when working with knit fabrics, but making a T-shirt can totally be done on a regular sewing machine. You can design and sew it any way you want, by all means, the creative power is yours. 

As for the second T-shirt spotted here, we painted it with fabric ink  - it was a custom order by the wearer - he wanted rainbows ever since I've made the Torrens box top.

Hope this tutorial helped to demistify creating your own apparel. There aren't many things better than wearing something you made, (and those are probably not things)!

You can also find outstanding inspiration and information on sewing with knits from:

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