After hours of prep and 3 hours of sewing, I'm still not finished a simple crew neck. It's not exactly difficult but I'm being forced to learn so many things as I go along. A sample of what I've had to figure out so far:
- How to set up my machine with the twin needle for faux cover stitching.
- Practice faux cover stitching (which has led me to believe that a pre-serged edge produces a more professional result).
- Threading stay tape of the correct width (mine needed to be narrowed first) through the serger foot.
- Easing the neck band into the neck hole (I'm going to choose a different method next time.) This is a very precarious process using a serger.
Here's what I'll say about making Ts so far: You need to have expert knowledge of your machinery (serger for seams, regular machine for "faux cover stich"), a really steady hand (one false move and ooops!) and nerves of steel. Nothing like cutting your fabric as you sew to give you perspective on straight stitch machines.
If anyone else here has made T shirts - please share your experience. I could use any feedback at this point.
Now, back to the factory.
End of Day 1 Update
No question, I've learned a LOT today - not only about new technique and constructing traditional Ts, but also about the pattern I'm working with (Simplicity - Built By Wendy 2092 - available only in Sew U Home Stretch, by the looks of it).
- I realized that I prefer clear elastic stabilizing tape for shoulders, rather than non-stretch stay tape. I want a bit of give in the shoulders so that they hang right. The non-stretch cotton made everything very structured.
- I realized that you really shouldn't stretch as you faux cover stitch, no matter how tempting. The less you fiddle, the less likely you are to get "tunneling" i.e. a lumpy berm between the 2 rows of stitching.
- Something I forgot to mention before: Be sure to use a STRETCH twin needle (I prefer a 2.5m span) on your jersey. It works much better (apparently - I have no comparative experience) than a twin that's made for woven fabrics.
- I realized that the twin stitching is an excellent alternative to a cover stitch machine - at least in this fabric.
- I realized that I'd never want a dual-function serger-cover stitch machine. Thank goodness I didn't buy one when I was looking at sergers. I want to go from machine to machine with no stops. This really streamlines the process.
- I've had difficulty finding many reviews about this pattern - maybe because it's not sold independent of the book in which its instructions reside.
- I first made the crew neck sloper, more or less as is (slight narrowing at waist, slight shortening at waist) and then cut a variation - the V neck with capped sleeves.
- I can corroborate that the crew T sloper fits large and that it is basically shapeless. I won't be making it again. No mind, making it was an exercise in fit and establishment of technique.
- The 6 inch V depth, from instructions on the V neck crew T sloper variation, is VERY deep. I mean, obscene. But I like the shape.
- In a way I'm glad it didn't work because, right at the end (when serging the side seam) I somehow managed to cut a inch-deep tear in the sleeve. I tell you, the serger gives and she takes. You CANNOT lose focus, even for a second.
- Tonight I traced and cut a third paper pattern - the second v variation (on the basic crew T sloper), which I'll make tomorrow morning. Its depth is 4.5 inches. I also modified the capped sleeve to make it something midway between a cap and a short sleeve. I want something a bit longer but not quite "regular short sleeve" length.
- In version 3, I also narrowed the waist for the third time. I've curved off about .75 inch at each waist side seam at this point - like 3 inches over all. Really, the sloper is straight.
- For all that, I'm happy with the sloper shoulder width (esp. now that I'm using stretchier stabilizing tape rather than twill). It fits very nicely in the sleeves.
No question - unless you live in a place like NYC (where you can find good jersey for 2 bucks a yard on sale) - making T shirts is not necessarily much cheaper than buying them. I can get a fabulous Tencel T at the Gap on sale for $10.00. Sure, some T shirts run upwards of 80 bucks. But I don't generally buy at full price and I don't get pricey ones (they don't stand the test of time, after all).
I do like the idea that I will eventually draft a perfect sloper for my body, which I'll be able to recreate at will (or when the right fabric comes along). I bet, once I do this a few times, I'll be able to cut in 30 minutes, mark and set up in 30 minutes and sew the garment in about an hour. Of course, that's 2 hours longer than it takes to pick one up at the Gap. But at least I'll know the only person I've exploited is myself.