Today, we’re going to start our Concord T-Shirts by sewing together the shoulder seams, stabilizing them with clear elastic if you want. When making knit tops on a serger, I generally don’t use clear elastic because I find the serged seam to provide much of the same stability, but if I’m sewing a thinner knit on sewing machine, adding the clear elastic helps the top hold its shape through more wears and washings. To add the elastic, simply stretch a short piece three or four times to soften it up and place it along the back shoulder at the seam line while you sew.
Whether or not you choose to add the elastic, pin the front and back of the shirt together at the shoulders with right sides together and sew. Press the seam allowance to the back of the shirt.
The other piece of our agenda today is the neckline. There are two techniques: one for the high and scoop neckband, and one for the often-feared (but actually do-able!) V-neck.
High or scoop neckband
Start by sewing the neckband together at the short ends and pressing in half lengthways with the wrong sides together (if you are serging, it can be helpful to clip into the serged seam halfway down, then press the seam allowances to different sides). Remember to use a cool iron and a press cloth to avoid shine.
Although the pattern tells you to cut the neckband on the cross grain, when making striped shirts, I sometimes like to cut the neckband on the grain (as long as my fabric is 4-way stretch) for a little extra detail, which I did on this example. This gives you a neckband with short stripes versus a neckband with one long stripe all the way around.
Pin the neckband to the neck opening, matching up the back seam with the center back notch, the front with the center front notch, and the other notches with the shoulders. As we’re going to be stretching (“easing in”) the neckband as we sew, you’ll find the neckband is a bit smaller than the neckline – don’t worry! If you want a bit more control, add more pins, distributing the neckband ease along the neckline.
Sew the neckband to the neckline slowly, stretching the neckband to fit the neckline, and making sure you’re getting all the layers and not wobbling – this step is often a lot easier to do on a sewing machine, even if you do everything else on a serger. After sewing, press the seam allowance down towards the shirt and if you want, you can topstitch the seam allowance down using a twin-needle or coverstitch.
Start by stay stitching the V of the shirt at a ¼” seam allowance and using a short straight stitch – this reinforces this delicate area so it doesn’t stretch out while you’re sewing. If you’re using a particularly flimsy knit you might also want to add a little bit of fusible interfacing tape to this area.
Snip into the point of the V right up to, but not through, your stay stitching.
Take your neckband and fold it in half wrong sides together so you end up with a long, skinny piece, and press. Bring the two ends together and lay one on top of the other to create a point. Baste the ends of the V together along the edges, using a long straight stitch and a ¼” seam allowance.
Pin the neckband to the neckline matching the points of the V and the stay stitching lines with right sides together.The stitching will form an “X”.
Now we’re going to attach the V part before sewing the whole neckband so we can get that nice and perfect (and can re-do if necessary! Happens to the best of us).
Pin the left side of the neckband up the neckline about 2 inches and sew towards the point of the V at 3/8” seam allowance using a sewing machine. Keep the needle down when you reach the point of the V. Pin the other side of the neckband up the neckline another two inches. Pivot the neckband under the needle and sew up the neckline about 2 inches.
Take the shirt off the sewing machine and turn the V right side out to check and make sure it isn’t puckered.
If you have puckers, rip out those seams and try again. If it looks good, pin the remainder of the neckband to the neck opening and sew the remainder of the neckline, easing (stretching) the neckband as you go. Press the seam allowance towards the shirt (and avoiding getting a shine like I did by using a cool iron and pressing from the wrong side of the fabric, or using a press cloth).
And we’re done for today! Come back tomorrow for the next step. Do you have any questions about attaching neckbands?