Little Romper Thingy for the Drool Machine

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This was a spur-of-the-moment project (inspired by this little romper on Pinterest).  As with the dress in the last post, sometimes when I wing it it works, sometimes it’s a disaster, and sometimes it just needs some tweaking.

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please feel free to pin this romper but don’t pin any photos of Hugo — thanks!

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I drew the pattern for this free-hand-style and cut and sewed most of it in less than an hour. The only step that took a bit more time was adding the snap placket to the inside of the legs.

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This fit is a wee bit wide in the neck — he’s showin’ a little baby shoulder — and could use a little tweaking. Next time I’ll just make the neck smaller and narrower and add more length to make more room for his cloth diapers. The yellow striped knit was left over from this Flashback Tee I made for Clementine last fall — that’s the great thing about baby sewing projects, they take almost no fabric so it’s not a huge investment if it doesn’t work out. Wouldn’t a little micro-pocket look cute too?

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I’m completely helpless when it comes to editing photos of Hugo. I can’t delete any. Even looking at this post I realize there are roughly four shots that all probably look the same to everyone else, but to me are so nuanced in expression they all needed to be included.

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Gold Dot Knit Dress

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I should have considered the fact that this shade of nudey-beige is NOT the most flattering shade on me before buying yards and yards of this dotted knit last spring, but I was drawn like a magpie to those gold dots and I just couldn’t resist. In fact I broke a number of my own “rules for buying knits,” as it ended up being more sheer than expected (I didn’t request a swatch), and it was pretty cheap, which seemed great until I realized I was starting to get a pilly knit dress. Why oh why did I think it would be different this time? Two words: GOLD DOTS.

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I also should have remembered that I’m at least a whole size larger than I was last summer when I decided to add a longer skirt to the same pattern I used for the Strawberry Peplum Top. As a result, I now have a really cute dress that is waaaay too tight on the top half. But it has GOLD DOTS!! Even with a tank top underneath it shows EVERY line of my bra, which you can see in the last picture of this post, and is pretty embarrassing. I keep wearing it though. Despite the pilling and sheerness and the fact that this project was probably Not A Win. I think we all know why.

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On the plus side, the pink scarf (JCrew, two seasons ago) does two things for this dress: it covers up some of the sheerness and tightness, and it adds some delicious color to the ensemble.

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I love the aqua flower necklace (found locally at a gift shop in Kerrytown) with it too, but I need to figure out a solution to the “skin-tight” problem if I’m going to wear this without the scarf in public, as you can see above. One possible solution is to just wear the baby in a carrier over it, like I did to a wedding a couple weeks ago. After all, babies make great accessories.

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Rapunzel Outfit for C

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I went on a bit of a Lillestof buying binge a couple months ago; one purchase was the Ninja print for E that I posted about last week, and I also picked up this absolutely adorable Rapunzel print for C from Simplifi along with a few other prints. I think with busy prints it’s best to use a simple pattern, so I decided to make a couple of short-sleeved Flashback Dresses.

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Please feel free to pin any of the cropped photos in this post, but please do not pin or reuse photos that include Clementine’s face. Thanks!

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The Flashback Skinny Tee Pattern comes in sizes 0-5 AND 6-14. I also used my tutorial for short-sleeves, and the tutorial for turning it into a dress.

I used the Go To Leggings pattern for the leggings that my friend Andrea sent over years ago (thank you Andrea!!!) and they are fantastic. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to finally make them, but I’m so glad I did; the fit is excellent and leggings are SO easy to make! They are a little long on C because she’s tall so I went up a size, but she can just grow into them.

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Ninja Boy!

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He’s my little Ninja. Er…I guess not so little anymore? Medium-sized Ninja?

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The kid is always throwing punches and kicks and generally bouncing off the wall. I’m not sure where all the energy comes from but it seems to be infinite. So a NINJA Flashback Tee (with short sleeves and a shoulder mod) seemed perfect. Paired here with some blue twill Parsley Pants that were oh-so-simple to sew: just the basic pants with an elastic waistband and a “tuxedo” stripe with a scrap of fabric my friend Chris gave me at the Weekend Sewing Retreat last fall stitched down the side. There’s also a quick tuxedo stripe tutorial at this post, but it’s also one of the many options included in the Parsley Pants Pattern.

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After talking about how awesome Lillestof knits are in my favorite knits post, I figured I should put my money where my mouth was and actually sew with them to see what all the fuss was about. Um, yeah. They’re awesome. Lovely amount of stretch, very soft, wash well, don’t fade. LOVE. Definitely worth the extra dollars in my opinion, and trust me, I’m a sucker for cheap knits too so I think I know what I’m talking about. I got this ninja print at Simplifi but you can find more sources for Lillestof in that favorite knits post.

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Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic today, but it gets me a little choked up when I think about how many of you “know” this kid. Like, you’ve read for years and watched him grow up, and make his silly faces and poses and be a goofball (you need to go look at at that Hansel post if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s kinda my Opus) in more than one post, and even though it’s through the screen, you feel like you have a sense of his personality, you know? I suppose some people could get creeped out by that but the glass-is-half-full me thinks it’s pretty fun that so many of you can enjoy his great personality. On the other hand, I am acutely conscious of the fact that he’s never had a say about (or even really comprehend the concept of) having his face be so familiar to literally millions of people. I’ve started talking to him about that, because I think he’s old enough to start understanding what that means. Someday he may ask me not to put his pictures on my blog and I will say OK, but at least for now he’s having fun.

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Please don’t pin or repost pictures of Elliot. Thanks!

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On the KNIT sewing radar

One of the things I love about hosting the KNITerviews and doing my own posts on sewing with knits is that I end up finding all sorts of new resources to share. I’m so thrilled with how many people tell me they take the plunge and start sewing with knits after reading something I’ve posted about knit sewing, but I want to point out that there are so many OTHER great places to go for good information on knit sewing too! Here’s a few that you might find interesting or useful:

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Tilly and the Buttons just released a women’s knit sewing pattern, Coco, that looks simple and easy and lovely; it’s available either digitally or in print. She’s also currently doing a series of blog posts all about Knits that you absolutely must check out! This is one of my favorite sewing blogs. I just love how simply she explains everything, and the beautiful colors on her site.

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My friend Deborah of Whipstitch offers an online knit sewing course called Sewing Knits without the serger — if you want to learn from an expert, this is where you should go. The list of topics covered in this course is exhaustive and totally worth the investment. Check out the course description here. Honestly any of Deborah’s eCourses are wonderful if you want to learn more about sewing; you can see them all here. UPDATE: Deborah is offering a discount code for this course! Sign up by March 15th, 2014, and receive 20% off your registration fee with the coupon code MADEBYRAE . Thanks, Deborah!

Heidi of Elegance and Elephants recently posted on Sewing with Knits; I especially like how she talks about determining the amount of stretch (there’s a downloadable stretch chart to help you determine the amount of stretch in a knit fabric). She also included a fantastic knit resource list at the bottom of that post as well!

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Last year sewing blogs One Little Minute and Mad Mim hosted a knit sewing series called “Stretch Yourself” that had some great tutorials, guest projects and pattern reviews on knit sewing, including how to trace and make your own tee; check it out!

Finally, you can follow my Sewing with Knits Pinterest board, where I round up all the random knit resources and tutorials I stumble across, so if you want to see them all in one place, follow my board!

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Knit Maternity Cowl Top

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Another knit maternity top today! See how big the belly is getting? Fun fun!! I made this swingy raglan style tee with 3/4 sleeves and a drapey cowl neck last year but it wasn’t very flattering on my non-pregnant self. Definitely works as a maternity top though! The fabric is a peach bamboo jersey (purchased at Field’s Fabrics) that is so stretchy and comfortable.

Though…I should mention that I don’t buy many bamboo fabrics anymore since it’s really hard to tell whether they’ve been manufactured with a closed-loop chemical process. Bamboo is easy to grow organically due to the fact that it’s basically an invasive weed, but the chemical process that turns bamboo into a woven fiber can be an environmental nightmare depending on how it’s manufactured. Anyway I basically know nothing about it so it’s like the blind leading the blind here. TANGENT!

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I supposedly have exactly one month to go until my due date today, which I must admit is a bit anxiety-inducing. I had a major manic nesting binge this weekend where I washed all of the baby clothes and got out the cloth diapers and performed inventory on the baby checklist. Still can’t find the baby monitor. Need to open the new infant carseat box yet. Probably should pack the hospital bag and all that. Pictures need to be hung in the nursery. MUST PICK A NAME. You get the idea.

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this is the look I give people who get in the way of the belly

And then…I have a few things I want to do with this blog before I take some time off for my maternity break, but I’m not sure how much I’ll actually get finished. I’d love to post some more baby sewing projects, I have a couple more knit tutorials I want to finish, and Jess and I have been talking a little about the Spring Top Sewalong!!! Jess can definitely run the sewalong here on the blog while I’m off (with small bits of input from me), so we’re thinking month of April if anyone is interested in a personal sewing challenge!! We’re also working on a new women’s sewing pattern that’s almost ready for testers, so that’s going to be fun too! Hmmm…a little ambitious do you think??

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Knit Necklines, Part III: Invisible Bias

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Today’s Knit Necklines tutorial (see Part I and Part II for standard neckband and bias-bound neckline finishes) will show you how to finish a knit neckline with a strip of knit fabric, but this time it gets flipped to the inside of the tee so it’s invisible…well, sort of. Technically, a line of stitches will still be visible, but the strip of knit you use to finish the neck won’t be. I love this finish for Clementine’s tees (this one and this one, for example), and it works especially well on boatneck tees. On top of that, it’s super profesh looking. And one other thing: if you loath hemming knits, this is also a great alternative for cuffs and hems!

One caveat: this neckline finish, unlike the previous two, makes the entire neck hole 1/2″ wider because the seam allowance flips to the inside. You can always go ahead and add additional 1/4″ to the entire neck edge of the tee before you start if you think you might end up with a neck hole that is too large.

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First, let’s make sure you’re ready to sew:

  • put a ballpoint or stretch needle in your machine
  • stitch length is set to a slightly longer straight stitch
  • I HIGHLY recommend stretch thread (be sure to read my post on stretch thead if you haven’t already!). If you can’t rustle up some stretch thread, set your machine to a long-ish narrow zig-zag stitch (so: stitch length somewhere between default and basting, stitch width close to 0) and use a standard polyester thread in your machine. In this tutorial I used stretch thread for all of the stitching shown (except for serging the tee together before I began), so if you use regular thread you’ll need to use the zig-zag stitch instead.

Start by sewing the tee together at the shoulder seams (I also went ahead and sewed the sleeves and side seams too, but you really only need to do the shoulders before you finish the neckline).

Step 1: Measure neckline and cut out the knit strip

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As in the previous two tutorials, take a flexible tape measure and measure around the neckhole. Cut the strip as long as your neck hole and 1″ wide. You won’t need the whole length but it’s easiest just to start with this much. Remember to cut the strip out along the direction of stretch, as shown above!

(see yesterday’s tutorial, step 1, for more on the direction of stretch and fabric recommendations! I also discuss why this strip is not really a “bias strip” in that post)

Step 2: Attach the knit strip to the outside (RIGHT side) of the neck hole with a 1/4″ seam

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Beginning at a shoulder seam and folding over the end by about 1/4,” sew the strip to the neck hole with a 1/4″ seam. The RIGHT side of the knit strip should be facing the WRONG side of the neck hole. As you go, gently stretch out the strip of knit out a bit (but not too much!). When you get back to where you started, overlap the ends by 1/4″-1/2″ and trim the rest of the strip away.

Hint: If you’re using this finish for a boatneck tee, stretch the strip more at the shoulder seams (where the neckline is most curvy) and a bit less at the center front and back of the neckline (where it’s less curvy)

(again, please see yesterday’s tutorial for more photos and commentary on this technique; steps 2 and 3)

Step 3: Press it!

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Use an iron to press the entire knit strip away from the neck hole (above), then fold and press the top edge 1/4″ under, towards the wrong side, around the entire strip (below).

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Step 4: Flip to the inside and stitch down

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Now flip the entire strip to the inside of the neckline so that it is no longer visible from the outside of the tee. Press it again, and pin (or clip) it in place.

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Sew along the folded edge (this is called “edgestitching”) to fasten the strip to the inside of the neckline. Again, you’ll notice I’m using a straight stitch here, but only because I’m using stretch thread. If you’re using regular thread, I highly recommend a narrow zig-zag stitch so that the neckline will be more flexible when pulled over the head!

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Voila!! Finished neckline!

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You can see more photos of this pink tee in action over at this post, and ALL of the posts in the KNITS: Stretch Yourself series over on my KNITS page.

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Knit Necklines, Part II: Bias-bound

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Today’s Knit Necklines tutorial will show you how to finish a knit neckline with a strip of knit fabric. This is a standard knit edge finish that you’ll find is very useful for more than just necklines! I also recommend that you also read yesterday’s tutorial on adding a standard knit neckband if you haven’t already.

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First, let’s make sure you’re ready to sew:

  • put a ballpoint or stretch needle in your machine
  • stitch length is set to a slightly longer straight stitch
  • I HIGHLY recommend stretch thread (be sure to read my post on stretch thead if you haven’t already!). If you can’t rustle up some stretch thread, set your machine to a long-ish narrow zig-zag stitch (so: stitch length somewhere between default and basting, stitch width close to 0) and use a standard polyester thread in your machine. In this tutorial I used stretch thread for all of the stitching shown (except for serging the tee together before I began), so if you use regular thread you’ll need to use the zig-zag stitch instead.

Start by sewing the tee together at the shoulder seams (I also went ahead and sewed the sleeves and side seams too, but you really only need to do the shoulders before you finish the neckline).

Step 1: Measure neckline and cut out knit “bias strip”

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I put “bias strip” in quotes here because with knits, you don’t actually have to cut the strips on the bias, because it already stretches so much, but this way of attaching the strip to the neckline is very similar to finishing a neckline with woven bias tape, so I’m calling it “bias-bound” even though there’s no bias involved. Maybe there’s a better name for it, but I can’t think of one right now.

For woven fabrics, when you’re making a strip of fabric to bind a neckline or armhole, you cut the strip on the bias (diagonal to the grain) because that makes it more stretchy and creates a smoother finish around your neck hole. But with knits, you really just need to cut the strip of fabric you want to use in the stretchiest direction on the fabric, which is across the fabric from selvage to selvage. This is called the “direction of stretch” and is perpendicular to the grain. SO REMEMBER: CUT OUT YOUR KNIT STRIP ALONG THE DIRECTION OF STRETCH as shown in the image above!

A note about fabric selection: I think you’ll find that you like this finish best when you use a thinner, stretchier knit for the bias strip. Rib knits are great as long as they aren’t too thick; jerseys can also be nice for bias finishes as long as they have a good deal (at least 50%, but 100% is even better) of stretch. My personal preference is a lighterweight 1×1 rib knit.

How long? Cut the strip as long as your neck hole. You won’t need the whole length but it’s easiest just to start with this much.
How wide? I like to cut my knit bias strips at last 1.75″ wide; this makes a finished width of about 1/2.” I don’t usually cut knit bias any wider than 2.”

Step 2: Attach the knit strip to the inside (wrong side) of the neck hole with a 1/4″ seam

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Beginning at a shoulder seam and folding over the end by about 1/4,” sew the strip to the neck hole with a 1/4″ seam. The RIGHT side of the knit strip should be facing the WRONG side of the neck hole. As you go, gently stretch out the strip of knit out a bit (but not too much!).

DISCLAIMER: This is a stretch-as-you-go technique that I tend to prefer because it’s faster than sewing the ends of the strip together, stretching it out around the neck hole evenly, and then attaching it with the ends already sewn. But I will readily admit that this takes a bit of practice to get the stretch just right. If you stretch too little, the neckline will look stretched out when you’re finished. If you stretch it too much, you’ll get a gathered look around the neckline. If you’re unsure, try walking the knit strip around the neckline while stretching it gently, cut the strip to the length you want (plus a seam allowance at each end), sew the ends together, press the ends apart, and then attach it with a 1/4″ seam by pinning/clipping it to the neckline first, as shown in yesterday’s tutorial.

Step 3: Overlap the ends

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When you get back to where you started, overlap the ends of the strip by 1/4″ – 1/2″ and trim the rest of the knit strip away. Again, I will say that while this is super fast and quick, it also makes for more bulk at the endpoints than if you would take the time to sew the ends of the strip together as discussed in the previous step, so you might want to try that instead if you’re finding that your knit strip is too thick to get a nice fold at the starting/ending point.

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Step 4: Press it!

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Use an iron to press the entire knit strip away from the neckhole, and then fold and press the top edge 1/4″ under, towards the wrong side, around the entire strip.

Step 5: Stitch the bias strip down to enclose the neckline

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Fold the bias strip in half so that the pressed-under edge just covers the original neckline seam and pin in place around the entire neck hole. Then stitch it down along the fold; this is called “edgestitching.”

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Voila! Beautiful bias-bound knit neckline!!! Tune in next time for another bias-finished neckline, but this time it’s inside the garment! PS. You can see pics of this tee on me in my Two Knit Maternity Tops post.

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Knit Necklines Part I: Adding a neckband to a tee

Along with hemming, I think finishing knit necklines might be one of the more difficult techniques to master when making clothes from knit fabrics. So I’ve made three different knit neckline finish tutorials for you! This one — adding a standard knit neckband — will be the first of the three. This happens to be the default way the neckband is finished in my Flashback Skinny Tee sewing pattern, though that pattern also includes a few other alternate neckline finishes as well. I think you’ll find that this will work for pretty much any knit tee with a round-ish neck hole (in other words, you would need to modify this for a v-neck or boatneck tee).

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I also want to say that my sample necklines in the photos are by no means perfect (see the ripples at the bottom portion of that neckband above??), so I’ll try to talk about what I could have improved as well…sometimes it’s good to show and talk about mistakes, right? That’s how we learn!! And actually, this tee looks totally fine when I wear it because it’s fitted, so the neckband ends up stretching out perfectly when it’s on my body.

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First, let’s make sure you’re ready to sew:

  • put a ballpoint or stretch needle in your machine
  • stitch length is set to a slightly longer straight stitch
  • I HIGHLY recommend stretch thread (be sure to read my post on stretch thead if you haven’t already!). If you can’t rustle up some stretch thread, set your machine to a long-ish narrow zig-zag stitch (so: stitch length somewhere between default and basting, stitch width close to 0) and use a standard polyester thread in your machine.

Start by sewing the tee together at the shoulder seams (I also went ahead and sewed the sleeves and side seams too, but you really only need to do the shoulders before you finish the neckline.

Step 1: Measure neckline and cut out neckband

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Measure around the neckline with a measuring tape. Now you’ll need to cut out a neckband that will be a bit shorter than that number, because we want the neckband to stretch a bit to fit the neck hole, otherwise it will look stretched out. My general rule of thumb is to cut the neckband about 2-3″ smaller than the neck hole circumference. As far as width, I usually cut it 1.75″-2″ wide.

This neckband is 1.75″ wide by 20″ long, because my neckline measured 22″ around. In retrospect, it could have been a little bit shorter and worked, because it was a super-stretchy knit and as you can see, the bottom of the neckband ended up being a little loose, hence the ripples. The thing is, there’s no SET RULE for how long to make a neckband, because it has a lot to do with how stretchy your knit is (I know, frustrating!!), but I find it helps to gently walk the neckband around the neck hole, stretching it slightly as you go, and see how long it needs to be that way.

VERY IMPORTANT: Cut the neckband so that the length of the neckband runs in the direction of most stretch, or from selvage to selvage. This direction of stretch is perpendicular to the grain. AHEM I messed up and cut this one out along the grain, which is another reason it looks a little weird at the bottom. Again, not trying to be nit-picky, just want you to learn from my mistakes!

Step 2: Sew the neckband ends together and press it in half

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Now sew the ends of your neckband together with a 1/4″ seam, then press that seam apart. Now fold the neckband in half along it’s entire length, so it’s a double layer, and press that fold to create a crease down the middle of the neckband.

Step 3: Attach the neckband to the tee

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Pin (or use Wonderclips, as I did in the photo here) the neckband through both layers to the RIGHT SIDE (outside) of the tee around the neck hole. The two raw edges of the neckband should be lined up with the edge of the neck hole, and you should stretch the neckband out around the neck hole as evenly as possible. Remember, your neckband should be shorter than your neck hole, so you want it to be evenly spread around the neck hole, but it won’t fit perfectly.

Hint: If your tee is a scoopneck, try to stretch it out a bit more at the curviest places (at the bottom, for instance), and less where the curves are less pronounced. If your neck hole is pretty much a perfect circle, you can fold the neckband in half to mark center front/back and the two side midpoints, then fold the neck hole in quarters and mark those, then match those points up and then stretch the neckband between them.

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Now sew the neckband to the neck hole with a 1/4″ seam. Remember that you’ll be sewing through THREE layers, the two neckband layers + the tee, so keep all edges even as you go. It’s also a good idea to stretch everything out just a little bit as you sew, so that the neckband matches up with the tee. I don’t recommend using a walking foot on your sewing machine for this, because it can make the stitches pretty tight, which will make it harder to pull the neckband over the head.

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Step 4: Press neckband away from neck hole and finish if desired

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The last step is always to press it. DO. IT!!! It will always look better once its pressed! I also took a double needle and sewed around the entire neckline seam, which has the advantage of finishing the inside as well with that nice zig-zag stitch from the bobbin. Topstitching with a single line of stitches also looks very nice.

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Voila! Beautiful neckband!!! Tune in next time for a bias-bound neckline!

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