This classic shirt is about as easy as peasy gets. It’s the perfect project to conquer your fear of knits (that is, if you have one) and you don’t need a serger. NO SERGER! Got that?!
First, a note about knits. For this type of fitted knit shirt, you need to use jersey, or something of equal stretch. Interlock (this is what Hanes Ts are made of) is not stretchy enough and should only be used for boxier Tshirts. Your best bet for the neck and arm binding is rib knit, although you could also use an interlock or jersey. Have fun with the color combinations! I was limited and chose to do tonal colors, but if I had some maroon jersey in my stash, you can bet I would’ve cranked out a maroon and orange Virginia Tech tribute shirt!
Ok, on to the tutorial!
Here are the pieces you’ll need. Your best bet is to trace around a pre-existing crew neck knit shirt (make sure it is stretchy – not interlock). This picture will give you an idea of what you’re looking for. Note that these pieces are still folded and that the neckline on the back piece is higher than the front.
Sew the front and back right sides together at one shoulder seam. Just one! It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Use the stitch on your machine that looks like a little lightening bolt, or “stretch stitch”. If you don’t have that, set your zig zag to a smaller width (ie: set it so it doesn’t “zag” very much)
Cut a strip of rib knit 2 inches by the width of your fabric. You won’t use it all, but it’s better to have some left over than not enough. I know this is kind of wasteful, but then I figured a little 2 inch flap at the top of my yardage wasn’t going to be very useful either. Just cut it all off.
Fold your strip in half length-wise and press.
Line up the two raw edges of your rib knit strip with the raw edge of your neckline and sew it down, using the edge of your presser foot as a seam allowance guide. As you sew, guide the fabric with your left hand and use your right hand to stretch the rib knit strip slightly.
Ok, this isn’t a real step, it’s a step-back-and-admire step. Ooooohhhhh Ahhhhhhh.
Attach the ribbing to the ends of the sleeves in the same manner. More oohing and aahing.
Now sew the second shoulder seam, right sides together, starting at the rib knit binding and ending at the shoulder.
Open up your shirt so it is facing up and one arm curve is facing you.
Lay your sleeve right-side-down, centering it on the shoulder seam.
Pin the center of the sleeve to the shoulder seam. Then pin one side of the sleeve down the arm curve, bending it to your will as you go.
Sew from the pinned underarm to the shoulder seam. Leave your needle down and lift up your presser foot. Rotate the sleeve so you can go back down the other side. Now pin that side of the sleeve down to the arm curve and continue sewing.
After you’ve put in a sleeve or two this way, you’ll probably be able to just pin the center point and each underarm point and stretch and shift as you go. But for now, pin.
Another admiration step. Your sleeve is in! (mostly) Now do it again on the other side!
Right sides together, sew from the underarm (starting at the rib knit binding) down to the hem of the shirt. This will finish your sleeve and the sides of the shirt in one seam. Do that on both sides and you could be done!
Optional: If you don’t want to be done yet, you could hem the shirt. There are a couple options:
#1: Don’t. Your shirt is perfectly fine unhemmed. It won’t unravel.
#2: Beg for, borrow, or steal a coverstitch machine. If you have one of these, a sewing machine, and a serger, there’s nothing stopping you. You’re your own sweat shop.
#3: Sew a single fold hem using a zig zag or stretch stitch. But be warned that you will almost definitely end up with a little bit of “lettucing”, or warping, at the hem. You’ll see this look done intentionally on some girl clothing usually with a serged rolled hem stitch at the hem, but it’s not my favorite look.
#4: Use a twin needle. My personal favorite option. (besides #1, and, ok, #2, though there’s no chance of that). You’ll have a nice professional look with minimal, if any, lettucing. Check it out:
Now’s probably a good time to mention that you’ll need two spools of the same color thread. Obviously I didn’t have that.
Once you’ve chosen your hemming option, you’re done! (for real this time)
The problem with saying “cheese”? You look like you’re saying “cheese”.
Catching them mid-laugh is a bit better.
Until they decide picture time is over and make a break for it.
Have fun! Make sure you post your ringer shirts to our flickr group. These shirts are the perfect blank slate for embellishment too – hint hint.