One of the questions I get asked most often about stretch sewing patterns is whether you can make them with a regular sewing machine. The answer is a giant YES!!! You honestly do not need an overlocker or a serger to sew a stretch sewing pattern like my Rowan bodysuit and tee. Today I thought I’d show you how to sew a tee neck band using only a regular sewing machine. We used this sample in our lookbook photoshoot, so you know it works well!
Let’s get sewing!
The first thing you need to do is sew your shoulder seams. For this tee, I actually sewed the whole tee first, because I like to mix it up, but if you sew your neckband with only the shoulder seams sewn and that’s it, you’ll find it a lot easier! I’m also using a lovely ribbing for this neckband, which I think gives it a great contrast, but you can obviously use self-fabric.
Match up the two shorter edges of your neckline band , and sew 1/4” (0.6cm) from the raw edge using either a zig-zag stitch or an overlocker/serger. See my zig-zag stitch above? It’s not super wide or long, it’s just enough to allow the fabric to stretch.
One of my favourite tips for sewing knits on a regular sewing machine is to lower your foot pressure if your machine will allow it. A regular presser foot pressure is great for most sewing, but I find for knits, less foot pressure results in less rippling in your fabric.
If you’d like more of my tips for sewing with stretch fabrics on a regular machine, check out this post.
Press the seam flat or open.
Fold the band in half widthways, so that the right sides are facing outwards, and the raw edges are touching.
Pin the band to the neckline of the tee/bodysuit with right sides together, matching up the neckband seam with the left shoulder seam, and the notches on the band with the right shoulder seam of the tee/bodysuit, and the centre front and centre back of the neckline. The band will be smaller than the neckline opening.
Sew ¼” (0.6cm) from the raw edge around the neckline, using either a zig-zag stitch or an overlocker/serger, stretching the band as you sew so that it lines up with the neckline. Don’t forget to stretch the fabric as you sew, this is important as the neckband is smaller than the neck opening.
That doesn’t look very pretty right now, does it? This is the point at which a lot of people panic – but don’t! After a good pressing and topstitch, everything will be fine.
Press the band away from the neckband, so that it lays flat inside the curve of the neckline. It is important not to skip pressing. Your neckline band may not sit perfectly directly after sewing – pressing sufficiently will help it to conform to the curve and sit flat. Ensure that you press the seams away from the neckline band, towards the tee/bodysuit.
This is optional, but I think it makes the tee look extra-finished. Topstitch next to the neckline seam using a zig-zag stitch or twin needle (on the tee, not the band), in order to hold the seam flat along the length of the neckline band piece. For tips on how to sew with a twin needle, check out this post.
The very last step which I haven’t shown is to trim away the excess seam allowance if you like. As you can see I pressed a little too vigorously and ended up with my notches and seam allowances showing on the outside of the garment. EW I hate that! But thankfully it’s fixable :) I trimmed back my seam allowance, gave the tee a quick wash to remove the pressing marks, and all was ready for our photoshoot! See the finished tee below :)
LOOKING FOR MORE ROWAN POSTS?
- Inspiration and ideas for sewing your Rowan
- Rowan Pattern tester Roundup
- Rowan Curve Pattern Tester Roundup
- Rowan Curve Maker Roundup
- How to stabilise fabric with tissue paper
- How to lengthen or shorten the pattern
- How to sew a V neck on knit fabric
- How to insert a neck back with a regular sewing machine (this post!)
- How to sew a snap crotch bodysuit
- Pattern Hack: How to Add Ruffle Shoulders
- Pattern Hack: Rowan maxi dress variation
- Pattern Hack: Scoop neckline variation
- Pattern Hack: Bodycon Dress
- Pattern Hack: 3 Ways to Sew Ringer Tee
- Pattern Hack: Tiered Gathered Dress
We’d love to see what you’re creating from the Rowan bodysuit and tee pattern or the Rowan Curve bodysuit and tee pattern! Don’t forget to tag your creations #MNRowan and @megannielsenpatterns to share what you’ve been working on, and check out what everyone else is up to!