I made this striped and screen-printed swing top for our vacation last week. (I was sewing on this top and some nightgowns up until we left!) It turned out really cute, I even hand-screen printed the little pineapple to the fabric. (How I made the screen print is really very simple- but it deserves it’s own post. If you’re curious, I will have that up in the next few days…)
I didn’t have time to hem the top before we left. It looked OK un-hemmed, but I think it looks better hemmed.
To make this top, save the pattern (found here ==>> Swing tank pattern) to your pc and open with adobe acrobat. Turn off all scaling and print. Pattern includes a 1/4 inch seam allowance except for the bottom hem, in which 1/2 inch hem is allowed.
Follow the instructions found here: Tank Top tutorial. The tops are made exactly the same except for the hem. I do think this top looks more finished with a hem and if you don’t have them already, I recommend a walking foot and a double/twin stretch needle.
Fold the side hems (over 1/2 inch) first and hem. Then do the front and back hems.
A few more tips for sewing with knits:
- Always use a ball point or jersey/stretch needle. A ball point needle has a rounded tip and allows the needle to move in between the thread fibers instead of piercing the thread fibers. (Which will cause holes in the fabric.)
- When sewing seams that need to stretch, be sure to use either a narrow zig zag stitch- set at a medium stitch length, or many newer machines have additional stretch stitches you can use. (Refer to your manual to find out which ones your machine does.)
- It helps to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit. (experiment on scraps til you find what works best on your fabric.)
- For seams that don’t need to stretch (like side seams) a regular straight stitch set to a slightly longer stitch length and loosening the needle thread tension just a tiny bit should be ok. ALWAYS do a few practice stitches on the fabric you will be using and then make any adjustments needed.
- If you are working on a fabric that keeps curling, use fabric starch and your iron to flatten out the fabric. This technique is helpful on all knits as the starch makes it less stretchy and moves through the machine smoother.
- For hemming on knits, you have a few choices: 1. Leave the edge raw. This looks fine on casual garments. 2. Add a bound edge. (You can see examples of how adding a bound hem works here and here.) 3. Use a walking foot and hem the edge with either a zig zag or other stretch stitch or using a twin needle. (The walking foot helps feed the material through the machine with less stretching.)
- You can also try using this knit stay tape. It’s half an inch wide and you iron it to the bottom of you hem, fold it up and sew right over it. Make a nice stable, non-ripply, but still stretchy hem. I’ve also heard of people using a wash away stabilizer. (I’ve not tried these. I usually do pretty well with the double needle and walking foot.)
- Remember to try a slightly longer stitch length and to loosen the needle thread tension just a tiny bit!
- If your fabric is getting sucked into the machine or is still stretching, you can place a piece of thin tissue paper between the fabric and bottom feed dogs. After you are done sewing, you can gently tear the tissue paper away.
What do you think? Will you be making one?
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