Hi everybody! Hope you had a lovely weekend. Several months ago Shannon from Luvinthemommyhood and I got chatting about sewing with knits. We were both on a little kick and wanting to sew more with knits and just learn a few more tricks.
Who doesn’t love a comfy knit t-shirt or top? I think almost everything I own (besides some of the things I’ve made for myself) is made with knit fabric. It’s soft, stretchy, and downright comfy!
And be sure to stop over at Luvinthemommyhood to check out Shannon’s super cute Poppy Top!
For the first week I wanted to share something nice and cool for these hot and humid summer months: a basic racerback tank. You might have remembered I made one similar using regular woven fabric cut on the bias, this is a little variation on that same idea.
1 yard knit fabric, something with stretch to it
ball point needle
thread (polyester or polyester blend is best)
walking foot (optional)
twin needle (optional)
I love this project because I scored a nice lightweight stretchy knit for $1 a yard at my local Hancock fabrics (you’d be able to find something similar at joanns, etc). It took me about an hour to make. So it’s a one dollar, one hour project, pretty cool right?!
Making the pattern:
Grab a regular t-shirt that fits you well.
Fold it in half. You don’t really have to be too precise here, just make a similar shape as to what I show in this picture. I like layering my tanks so I wanted somewhat loose fitting and long. Like a higher neckline? You can do that! just move up the curve of the neckline. It’s amazing what you can do when you make your own clothes. Oh, and if you wanted to try this with a woven cut on the bias, you can add a little dart right under the arm on the front piece.
Now fold the t-shirt in half the other way, this will be the back. Again, just make the basic shape, nothing too scientific about it. Just make sure the bottom of the arm opening matches that of you existing t-shirt or slightly higher. Cut out your 2 pattern pieces being sure to mark where to place the pattern on the fold.
Next, cut 2″ wide strips across the grain of the fabric (side to side the stretchy way). This will be the binding for the neck and arm holes.
Sew one shoulder seam together. You could use a walking foot and a stitch that looks something like this might be an option on your machine:
Don’t worry if your machine just has a basic stitch, just use that and lengthen your stitch length or do a narrow and long zig zag stitch.
[I do want to stop and point out that Omi Creates does a really nice job of explaining this same binding technique that I'm using here with a baby onesie, so I'd definitely recommend at least reading through her tutorial for some great tips about sewing with knits!]
Next grab one of the 2″ binding strips and cut it to be about 75% of the total length you need to go around the neck opening and around the back part of the neck opening. You might want to stretch your binding a bit and see if it will stretch enough to fit the whole length since you’ll be stretching the binding slightly as you sew it on to the tank. Place it RIGHT sides together with the tank, aligning raw edges. I sewed it using a 3/8″ seam allowance.
Stretch the binding strip slightly as you sew (in the direction of the red arrow, towards you), but just let the front and back of the tank pieces get pulled along by the feed dogs on your machine.
Press with seam facing upwards toward the neck opening. Next you’ll flip the binding around the the back (WRONG) side of the fabric like this:
You’ll want to sew on the top side though since the stitching will be very visible.
Set your machine to a medium width, medium length zig zag stitch and sew all along the binding, trying to keep the binding about the same width. You could pin it all in place, but I found that it was pretty easy just to fold it over and sew as I went. Sewing on top of the binding is where you could alternately use a twin needle instead of a zig zag stitch.
Trim excess binding from back:
Sew the remaining shoulder seam together.
Then sew both side seams (no pic of this but, just put them RIGHT sides facing and sew). Press.
Sewing the armhole binding is similar to the neck binding.
Again, cut the binding strips to about 75% of the total length you’ll need.
But this time, you’ll fold in in a loop and sew the seam along the short side of the binding strips, making a circle. Attach the binding the same way as the neck seam. That’s it! You could hem the bottom, but I really like the raw edge look, so I just left mine. Now put on your tank and get some relief of the heat.