I’ve been experimenting with how to make a t-shirt for awhile now. One of the challenges I’ve faced was how to finish the neckline so it looks professional. Recently I discovered a technique that is not only simple, but elegant as well.
In this case, I was actually making a jacket out of rayon knit, but the same technique can work for a t-shirt too. This solution has enough stretch to move with the fabric, yet it is simple to construct.
Tools and materials
- Couching foot – This sewing machine foot has a hole in front so you can feed a cord through. The groove on the bottom allows the foot to easily glide over the cord as you sew.
- Stretch Magic (1 mm) – This clear plastic, stretchy beading cord stretches enough to move with the knit fabric. A non-stretchy cord would place too much strain on the garment. Because it is clear plastic, you don’t have to worry about matching the color of your fabric. I found this at my local Michael’s store, but it’s probably available at most beading shops.
- Rayon thread to match the fabric. The sheen of this thread gives the trim a subtle luster. You can also use regular sewing thread.
- Applique scissors – These “duck-billed” scissors allow you to trim the excess seam allowance very close to the final stitching.
Prepare the pattern and construct the t-shirt
Since this technique involves folding under the neckline seam allowance, you’ll need to provide a little extra fabric in the seam allowance so it lays smoothly.
- On the front and back pattern pieces, angle the shoulder seam out about 5/8″ at the neckline seam line.
- Construct the t-shirt as you would normally, angling out the shoulder seam at the neckline.
Finish the neckline
- Fold under the 5/8″ seam allowance on the neck edge and press.
- Feed the Stretch Magic through the hole of the couching foot and pull it underneath the foot to the back.
- With the garment right side out, find an inconspicuous spot to start (usually center back).
- Line up the right hand side of the couching foot with the folded edge of the neckline.
- Stitch the Stretch Magic to the garment using a close, narrow zigzag stitch that covers the Stretch Magic:
Make sure not to stitch through the Stretch Magic. This stitches down the folded-under seam allowance. You may want to first experiment with scraps of your fabric to see which settings work best.
- Stitch around the neckline.
- As you approach the beginning of the stitching, cut off the Stretch Magic so that the cut end just meets the existing stitching. Keep the Stretch Magic lined up so you create a smooth transition to complete the circle. Continue for a few more stitches over your previous stitching.
- Remove the garment from the machine and pull all your threads to the wrong side and knot them.
- Bury the threads by threading them onto a needle (1 or 2 at a time) and take a single stitch just through the under layer of the seam allowance. Cut off the threads.
- On the wrong side of the garment, trim the excess seam allowance very close to the stitching with the applique scissors.