Serger Wars 2: Jersey

I’m almost 45 years old, and one thing that remains true about me is that I don’t take things slowly. Easing in? Nope! Just jump in feet first and try to swim and see if you do!

This is ostensibly an “easy” shirt as long as you possess the skills of serging, twin needle sewing, and working with knits, all of which are new to me. I did all of that with a difficult, flimsy, light weight jersey for this shirt I made.

Lightweight jersey shirt in grey

Fabric:

If I had to give some advice to someone starting out making knits, it would be to use stable knits for a while to get used to serging and necklines. Of course I chose one that’s so fine it’s almost sheer and rolls terribly at the edges! It made a great summery shirt (one that requires a tank underneath) but it was a pain in the ass.

I have read many articles in preparation for sewing knits and did all the things I knew to do: stabilized the shoulder seams with stay tape (A++ technique), serged seams (whizzzz), fusible tape for hems (no rolling!), zig zag. On a Not-Practice-Shirt I would have twin-needled the sleeve hem and used matching thread but I really just wanted it to be done.

Note that this was a $4 fabric remnant with thread I already had wound – definitely intended to be practice but came out better than I expected!

Speaking of serging, one thing I’ve learned about using my serger, especially on knits, is that you have to wing it. I’m used to over-preparing: stabilizing woven fabric with many pins and going slowly, but that’s not how you serge knits. You have to hold the edges together delicately so as not to stretch anything and let the machine eat the fabric and do its thing. On my regular machine, I’ve learned it wants to constantly go sideways and not sew straight, but other than gentle guidance you also have to let the feed dogs kinda do what they do.

One thing I have done with these knit projects is TEST FIRST. I don’t start sewing until I’ve figured out tension, needle, and thread and whatnot. It’s saved me a lot of unpicking, which is another thing I’ve learned: you can’t really unpick seams on jersey like this, it leaves holes!

Pattern:

Simplicity New Look 6216, view C. This is a well-fitting pattern with a comfortable neckline. I graded between sizes 14-16. I cut off an extra half-inch in the shoulders because #shortsewing. Otherwise it’s super simple construction.

Despite reading about neckbands, I was not sure how this one worked so was following the instructions blindly. I used a different process for the fleece shirts. I know better how it works now and my next one will be a lot better. I did almost cry when 75% through stretching the neckband because I didn’t think it was going at all well (it was fine). The twin needling finish also went pretty well. Despite my despair, this band didn’t turn out that badly:

I plan to make more jersey shirts out of different knits using this pattern and a raglan one. I’m using these shirts as tests and practice, and will wear them as sleep shirts, and once I get good enough, shirts for my kids.

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