Sewing the Perfect Tshirt: A Janome Tutorial

Memorial Day means that school is nearing an end and summer is starting!  And summer means flip flops, shorts, and T-SHIRTS! Everyone has to have a few great t-shirts for warmer weather.  There are so many great tee sewing patterns out there, not just mine; find a pattern with a cut that you like. And then let’s get sewing!

I’m using my pretty awesome Janome Skyline S7 and Janome Coverpro 2000CPX, along with a serger for this project. You do NOT need a serger to get professional results but many people have them and use them so I thought I’d include it because the serged edges create some bulk that can easily be reduced.

Sewing a tee is pretty simple, right?  Sometimes simple is hard because there isn’t anything to hide your mistakes.  At least that’s what happens in my experience. Probably one of the most intimidating parts of sewing a basic tee is the collar.  Let’s break it down so you don’t have to worry over being too loose or getting bunched up.

First, you have to determine the amount of stretch your fabric has.  Take a look at the image below. You can also DOWNLOAD this and print it out to keep with your other sewing supplies.  

The Perfect Neckline

Ooooh, Buddy. This does not have to be intimidating.

Forget about what your pattern says sand measure the neck opening of your shirt after you’ve sewn the shoulder seams.

 If you have a really stretchy fabric like ribbing, you will want to use 80% of your neck opening measurement. If you have a medium stretch fabric, use 85% and if your fabric falls in the low stretch area, use 90% of your neck opening measurement.  Now that you have that calculation, add in your seam allowance to both ends (so, double what your seam allowance would be since you are going to be folding your neckband in half and sewing). Make the width the same width as what the pattern calls.

Fold your neckband in half, right sides together, and sew along the short side to make a short, fat tube using the stretch stitch on your sewing machine (or serger).  

Fold the top edge of the tube down to meet the bottom edge. See how it’s already looking like a neckband?


Now it gets *really* scientific.  You want to evenly stretch your neckband around the neck opening of the shirt.  I like to line my neckband seam up with one of my shoulder seams because that’s how store-bought shirts are and I don’t really have a better reason why.  Once you pin that first area, fold the neckband in half and mark the midway point. Do the same with the shirt. And then pin those two midway points together.  

Stretching the neckband so the shirt opening is even, pin around the whole neck. So very precise and not an ounce of eyeballing it in this last section at all… (/s end sarcasm).

Now you can sew or serge around the entire neck opening.

If you have a coverstitch machine, some people like to sew around the neckband, securing the seam allowance into place.  I have no strong feelings for or against. It’s totally up to you.

The neckband lays sooooo nicely!

Finishing Touches

I do love a coverstitch for the sleeves and hem though.  I think it really helps you “level up” when working with knits.  I just finished this tee (plus a few others) when my husband walked through my studio and asked if I went shopping because he didn’t remember those shirts.  I didn’t change anything about my pattern or the cut or fit or fabric; it was the coverstitch that made that small difference to push me from “really nice homemade” to “wow, this could have been carried in from a store.”  

Reducing Bulk in Hems

A fun tip to reduce bulk when folding up your hem is to clip the seam allowance right at the fold line and then when you fold it to hem, adjust your seam allowances so they lay on opposite sides of the seam from each other. WORLD OF DIFFERENCE RIGHT THERE!

You’ll be seeing quite a few things from me about my new coverstitch machine this summer as I get more acquainted with it.  Girly has been asking for more shorts and leggings so I think I have a great new project on the horizon!

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