I have a new grand baby. I am smitten. I want to make her all the things. She has a ton of 3-6 month size clothing that were received as gifts, so I jumped on the opportunity to test a new tank pattern in her next size! I learned a bit about sewing small that I would like to share. There are several patterns here and several different kinds of fabrics. It was a good learning experiment.
On this armscye I zig zag basted the band to the body of the top, on the edge, then serged and top stitched. On later garments, I used the stretch stitch on my machine, and it worked much better. Serging stretches out this rib knit. I hope it recovers in the laundry!
Those armscyes are tiny. With regular arm bands that measure about 8 inches, that is a less than a3 inch diameter. It will be much easier to get round them with a sewing machine. Experiment on scraps to find the best stretch stitch that works with your fabric. I ended up happy with this one, which may be called an overcast stitch.
It looks like a straight stitch from the outside, but those jags off to the right will add to the stretch and contain any seam allowance neatly.
- After sewing shoulder seams, top stitch them with the seam allowance towards the back. It is my secret message to myself and parents, so we know which is the front and back of the garment. It is often hard to tell and tags on a baby are not a place I want to go.
2. Figure the center of the armscye location. Hold the ends together, and walk them both to the fold. Mark the center. On a traditional tank, this could be really close to the shoulder seam. On the example here, which is a racer back. It is not at or even near the shoulder seam, but about an inch back. Match up the center points, and sew a partial seam. Start the partial seam about an inch to an inch and a half back from the center point. Sew across the center point and about an inch to an inch and a half past that. no need to stretch the band here, or maybe stretch slightly. This will avoid that shoulder bubble that sometimes happens with tank tops. If you are using this technique for an adult size, you can make this partial seam longer, two inches on either side of the top of the shoulder will work fine.
3. Then take those band ends, match them up right sides together (without twisting) and sew a seam across the ends (right sides together) to make the partially attached band into a loop. I prefer to sew this with a machine, so that the seam can be opened to reduce bulk. On this example I was using a performance knit for the bands, and my serger handled it much better. The performance knit did not conform to the round shape as nicely as a cotton would.
4. Sew the side seam of your garment. I am happy to use a serger, but a regular machine stretch stitch will work here too.
5. I like to sew one side seam then serge around the hem before sewing the next side seam. makes the beginning and end of the serged edge less visible.
6. Pin the folded band to the right side of the garment and finish sewing the armscye. If both body and band seams are serged, move the seam allowances one way on the band, and the other on the garment. I like the garment seams pointing back to follow the shoulder seam. Since we did not stretch the band much on the top of the shoulder, take care to stretch without puckering round the rest of the circle. Start your seam just a little before the last one ended, and overlap about a half inch before they meet up again.
I serged one of the test garments afterwards, and that really stretched out the fabric. It could bounce back after a trip to the laundry. On an adult sized garment, serging the armscye might be a good idea. Can you tell which garment was stretched out with serging?
7. Lastly top stitch the seam allowance to the body of the tank or tee. It will help make that seam lay flat, and create less chafing on a little baby. I used my Bernina#20 foot here, perhaps you have a foot with a guide?
I sewed a fun hem on one of the rib knit versions, and will try to write a post on that one later. It is a favorite hemming technique with stretch. If you are interested in learning how to make a blind hem on the machine, check out this post.
I used multiple patterns to experiment with this process. And several fabrics, which is your favorite?
Affiliate links for favorite patterns that could employ this technique are below, if you are interested in supporting the cause, at no cost to you. I appreciate it!
Happy sewing! Joan