The Boyfriend Tee

Pattern: McCall's Misses' Tops M6164, without the bells and whistles
Fabric: double knit cotton leftover after my striped dress
Cost: remnants





I've made blouses and sun dresses and a retro bathing suit. But lately I just want to wear my boyfriend's shirts. They are soft and comfy and say funny things on them or come from cool places. So instead of stealing all his shirts, I decided to make myself one (and have already bought fabric for more...).


When I first started sewing in high school, I worked almost exclusively with knits. Don't get me wrong, they're not great for beginners. I sewed straight seams and the stitches popped. The hems rolled. But knits stretch so I didn't need a zipper, and they don't ravel at the unfinished edges. When I got a little better I started making more structured garments. I finished my seams. And shit got serious. Darts, invisible zips, scalloped edges. My last two projects felt like monumental works (I made a dancing .gif!). So it was about time to return to my roots. I've since honed my skills in working with knits, and this top took literally an hour and a half from start to finish.

Similar to my brother's shirt or my circle dress, a t-shirt is really just a front, back, and neckband. I use McCall's M6164 as my stand-by because it fits me well (and, in my brother's case, just a traced men's shirt). You run the whole thing through the serger and you're pretty much set. The neckband I always cut about an inch smaller than the neck, which works out perfectly. Oh, and this one has a pocket.


Without cover stitch, though, the only dilemma I've hit is how to hem the sleeves and bottom. My walking foot has been a big help in most cases, but I needed a stitch that wouldn't pop when stretched. I tried the twin needle but had a lot of trouble. In order for the stitch to not form a pintuck, you have to set the machine tension at zero. But when the tension is at zero, the bobbin thread doesn't zig zag back and forth between the two top threads, and keeps snapping. Apparently Oona (the newly-revealed TV-star!) recommended using a zig-zag stitch with the twin needle on Patty's blog (but then wouldn't it look like a twin zig-zag stitch?). For my brother's shirt, which was a very slippery rayon knit, I switched to a single needle and used a three-stitch zig-zag stitch. For this one, which is a lot thicker and could handle not puckering, I upped the machine tension and used the twin needle.

Do you have any tips and tricks for the twin needle on knits? I'm one step away from easy sewing!

You can read my review at PatternReview.com.

5 comments:

  1. Have you tried tissue paper under the hem when sewing with the twin needle? It helps me keep the tunneling between the stitches at bay. Steam a seam works too, but won't really stretch. Also, fusible bias stay tape may help, though I haven't tried this.

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  2. Have you tried tissue paper under the hem when sewing with the twin needle? It helps me keep the tunneling between the stitches at bay. Steam a seam works too, but won't really stretch. Also, fusible bias stay tape may help, though I haven't tried this.

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  3. Cool shirt! I've heard of people cutting a strip of interfacing (I've never done it but I guess it would be knit interfacing) and putting it between the layers and twin needling. Using a long stitch length usually helps me.

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  4. This is an old post, so maybe you've figured out a solution by now.

    I have used Steam-a-Seam when I'm lazy, since my hems don't need to stretch that much. But I mostly use zigzag. On my mid-2000s era Singer, the three-step zigzag worked best, but my vintage Pfaff makes a better knit hem with just the regular zigzag. I marked the ideal setting with a rhinestone on my stitch selector wheel.

    I agree with you about knits: not the easiest fabric for beginners to work with, but it's forgiving for fit errors.

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  5. thank you Julianne! I love the idea to mark your sewing machine with a rhinestone!

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