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Lark Tee How-To by Monique

Even though I would have classed myself as an intermediate sewist, I was reluctant to work with Jersey Fabric until a few months ago. I had heard about how difficult it could be - mainly from Patrick Grant pointing out how contestants had stretched it out of shape on the Great British Sewing Bee. However, jersey has a lot of advantages, including comfort, easier fitting and a lovely drape. You can also achieve great results with a home sewing machine - no overlocker is required, though of course they do come in handy.

The Lark Tee Sewing Pattern is a great pattern for a first time trying out using a Knit Fabric. It’s a quick and straightforward make that can produce professional-looking results. This simplicity means that you can really take your time focusing on the small details, and still have a finished garment in a day. What have you got to lose?

1. Get all of your equipment together

Necessary

  • Sewing machine

  • Fabric and coordinating thread. I used this gorgeous bear print Cotton Jersey Fabric from Minerva

  • Ballpoint/jersey/stretch needle (these are all terms for the same thing)

  • Dressmaking scissors

  • Tape measure

Optional but recommended

  • Ballpoint pins

  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat

  • Paper and any other equipment you use for tracing off

2. Prepare your fabric as you normally do- either pre-wash or at least give a thorough press with plenty of steam.

3. Read through and familiarise yourself with the pattern.

Top tips before you start

  • Use a ballpoint/jersey/stretch needle. Since jersey is knitted rather than woven, it can ladder (like a pair of tights) if pierced by a regular needle. Specialist needles are designed to stop this from happening.

  • You must use a stretch stitch (the icon will look like a lightning bolt) or narrow zigzag when sewing seams. A straight stitch will not stretch with the jersey fabric, so your stitches could pop out.

  • Don’t allow the fabric to hang over the front of your sewing table when working- this can make it stretch out of shape.

4. Either trace off or cut out your pattern. I traced because this is an expensive pattern. If you are unsure about what size to make, check the ‘finished garment size’ table in the pattern. Get out a few RTW t-shirts that fit you well and measure them. You can then choose which size in the pattern corresponds to the type of shirt you normally wear. Since this pattern has tiny seam allowances, bear in mind that you won’t be able to let it out later if it is too small.

5. Cut out your fabric, preferably with a rotary cutter. Of course you can use scissors, but be mindful of the fabric stretching. The seam allowances on this pattern are tiny (1/4 inch, which is about 0.6cm). Make sure you bear this in mind when marking your notches!

6. The first step is to stitch the shoulders.

7. Next is stitching the sleeves in place, then the side seams.

8. Check the fit of your t-shirt at this point. I was happy with mine, though you may be able to see that the shirt is very long on me. I am short and I have a short torso, so I expected this. If the shirt is looking a little baggy, take it in now.

9. The next step, the neckline, is the trickiest, but definitely manageable if you take your time. Stitch and press the neckband as indicated in the pattern.

The following instructions will help you to achieve even stretch in the neckband. Lay the neckband piece flat and place a pin in the fold at each end. Bring the pins together in the middle and lay the band flat again, pinning as before. These four pins divide the neckband equally into quarters.

In the same way, mark the centre front and centre back of your t-shirt with pins. Bring these pins together and place two more pins so that your neck-hole is also divided equally into quarters.

You will be stitching the neckband right sides together so it will be ‘flipped up’ when finished. If you are using a directional print like me, make sure you don’t pin it on upside-down!

Next pin your neckband to the neck of your shirt, matching the pins on the neckband piece to the pins on the t-shirt. You can then stretch the neckband between the pins and add some more pins to make it easier to stretch evenly when stitching. I used sixteen pins in total.

10. Carefully stitch on the neckband. Try on again to ensure it is sitting nicely.

11. The next step- stitching around the neckband to anchor the seam allowances- is optional. I looked and lots of my RTW tees don’t have it, but my fabric rolled a lot and I thought my neckline might look a bit lumpy if I didn’t.

I decided to use a zigzag stitch for aesthetic reasons, but I think a stretch stitch would have looked just as good. If you do zigzag, test how this looks on a piece of scrap fabric first.

12. Finally, press and pin the hems on the sleeves and bottom of the shirt. Try on first to admire your handiwork, and also do a final check on the length.

13. Stitch those hems. I used a zigzag again to match the topstitching around the neckline.

And you’re done! Wear your beautiful new t-shirt with pride.

Thanks for reading!

You can find more from me over on my blog @ Crafty Crusader

Monique x

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