Now that I’ve got a new serger to help with my quest to learn the world of sewing garments, I thought I’d make James a couple T-shirts.
I used Jalie Men’s T-Shirt Pattern 2918, and some knits I purchased from both Jo-Ann’s and Fabric.com.
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First, I do want to say that buying a serger has truly changed my life in regard to sewing. It totally breezes through seams, making clothing construction much easier and quicker. I went with the entry level Brother 1034D and so far so good! It worked perfectly right out of the box, no tension adjustments needed.
Originally, I’d planned to take the threading shortcut and tie the old thread to the new and run it through the serger. However, Gato Cat really put a damper on that when I woke up to find her chewing on the ever enticing (and delicious???) primary colored threads. I caught her still in the act – she’d broken three out of the four. Did I mention the thread was still wet? Ewwww.
I did read somewhere that if a thread breaks on a serger, it’s best to re-thread the entire machine instead of trying to just do one thread. So I did – using the help of this Creativebug YouTube video showing how to thread a serger. And what a coincidence – one of the machines was the exact same model that I have!
So yeah, not too bad.
I mean, don’t ask me to switch modes on the thing… For the most part, I think I’ll stick to the 4-thread overlock.
One thing I should have been expecting, but didn’t really think about is the fact that using a serger is incredibly messy with certain types of fabric like rib knit. There was black fuzz EVERYWHERE! Even rotary cutting through the stuff left a thin line of black powder on my mat.
Anyways, let’s move onto the T-shirt pattern – Jalie 2918 – purchased online for $12.99. It comes with instructions and paper pattern pieces. Keep in mind, they are not made out of traditional pattern tissue – but more like thicker white copy paper.Instead of cutting out the pieces, I used tracing paper and a black marker to make a copy of the size needed. (You can purchase large rolls of tracing paper from Amazon)
Here are the pattern pieces I made – choosing size “Y” for James. His body type is not conducive to wearing off the rack clothing. He has a larger neck size (15 1/2 inches), broad shoulders, but really slims down at the waist and hips. When James buys dress shirts matching his neck size, they are way too big for him everywhere else.
I made two versions of the shirt – first out of a dark green, thin jersey knit from Fabric.com, then out of a black thicker rib knit I found at Jo-Ann’s. After working with both types of knits, I have to say I definitely prefer the thicker rib knit (despite the fact that it’s crazy messy!) because it’s much easier to sew with.
Jalie produced this YouTube video that shows step-by-step instructions for making the shirt.
In the video, it is shown how to make the shirt two ways – using a regular domestic sewing machine and by serger. I made the first version using my Janome 7700 and the second using the Brother 1034D serger. They made it look so easy to use a sewing machine, but that wasn’t the case for me. Maybe it was the jersey knit or the stitches I was trying to use, but the sewing machine wasn’t cooperating very well trying to zigzag the seam edges. The machine kept on “eating” the fabric and my zigzag edges looked terrible.
My first attempt at making the V-neck band also did not go well. I didn’t ease the neckline to the band and it was gathered at the front. Oops!
After asking strangers on the internet for advice, I decided to cut off the neck band entirely and start over again. This actually did work out!
Version one looks okay, but the hems on the sleeve and waist are not exactly professional looking. I don’t (yet) have a cover stitch machine, and wasn’t sure how to pull off a decent hem. Not sure what I was thinking, but I zigzagged the edges and hemmed them about an inch using the “knit” stitch on the Janome. This was a mistake, and using the stitch for knits was also bad because I couldn’t seam rip it out.
Version two out of the black rib knit went MUCH smoother. Part of my problem was actually buying fabric online, which is hard for me to say because I love online shopping. I didn’t realize how thin the knits would be from Fabric.com. Going to have to figure out what to do with the three other colors I bought… They’re not going to be ideal for making T-shirts.
We found the fit with the Jalie pattern to be almost correct for James, except for the side seams under the arms. I graded the pattern piece to be slimmer in the torso.
For the hems, I tried out the twin needle on the Janome. There were quite a few skipped stitches and some thread breakage. It’s still an obvious improvement though, compared to version one.
Here is James wearing his new V-neck shirt!
There was enough leftover for me to make a matching V-neck sleeveless shirt for myself. Instead of hemming, I tried adding a band to the armholes and waist to avoid using the twin needle again. The armholes turned out great, but there was some waviness in the waistband. I used the sewing concepts from the Jalie instructions, but used one of my shirts as a template.
(I’ll try and find time over the next week or so to take some decent pictures and post them on Instagram – @MooreApproved)
Jalie Men’s T-Shirt Pattern 2918 gets the Moore Approved seal for sure. The video tutorials on YouTube are wonderful for visual learners, and I enjoyed putting V-necks into the shirts. One caveat – your results will be more professional looking if you have a serger/cover stitch machine. While Jalie claims anyone with a regular sewing machine can make the pattern, the seams will look rather “homemade” if you follow those instructions.
I also want to recommend that if you’re new to sewing with knits, buy the fabric in person versus online. That way, you can see and feel it to know the thickness and can better determine whether it will be easy to sew with or not.
See you next time!