Sunday, 26 May 2019

Fabric and neckline trauma but I have battled to the finish! The do it 10 times rule.


The top

I have been struggling putting a neckline (and armhole) finish on a simple top. There is nothing to say about the top otherwise.

I did finish the top - here it is in all its imperfection! I'm wearing it to go out today though - so it's not that bad.
I think you can see the diagonal nature of the fabric from this view

The top is a vest style - scoop neck, sleeveless. I've made it before without too much difficulty. This is a pattern highly modified from the original and further modified from its last rendition (see here)

I did the last neckline differently and successfully managed to coverstitch - but this fabric was having none of it!
This time, I think my fabric is a lot to blame. It is quite stretchy, two ways, that is both horizontally and vertically. I should have guessed there would be problems as I had problems cutting it out in the first place. One of my pieces was wonky and fortunately I had enough fabric to do it over again. My fabric did not want to behave!

I made the situation more difficult than it needed to be, of course, being me, by at first assuming that the pattern on the fabric ran both horizontally and vertically. It doesn’t - it’s vertical and diagonal. This means that the straightening I thought I had done made things worse! I wish I had never touched this fabric!!

I love geometrics, rather than florals or animals etc, and this fabric really met my requirements - or so I thought. Now, I could see it far enough! I used a diagonal print once in the past when I was just starting to sew and really didn’t enjoy the experience - I thought it was me I seem to remember. I’ll know in the future.

Neckline trauma

I decided to attach a strip of fabric used as a facing around neckline and armhole. The strip was cut on the crossgrain, the greatest amount of stretch, and one layer attached right side to right side on the neckline. The raw edge of the fabric was then turned under and the whole folded over into the inside and topstitched to keep the layers together (though obviously I could have hand stitched and then nothing would have shown). This didn’t work.as the fabric layer was somewhat too thick and heavy and didn’t lie nicely, falling forward.
This was the wide facing I originally attempted. Coverstitching something that wasn't right in the first place clearly wasn't going to work.

I therefore removed the band (for the first of several times!) even though I had understitched and overlocked.

By this time, I had a coverstitch machine - this top decided me to move in that direction. I therefore decided that I would attach to one side and simply fold over without turning in the raw edge as this would reduce the bulk. I’d then coverstitch from the right side and secure the raw edges. One layer of fabric less to contend with. Good plan. Didn’t work. The neckline just would not lie flat - it kept falling forward. Not the fault of the coverstitch machine.

I thought the band was too long and that was why the neckline was falling forward. I shortened it but this still didn’t solve the problem. In class, it was suggested to me that the fabric was causing the issue. However, I see people attaching necklines all the time so why couldn’t I do this?

I was really worried about how overworked the neckline of the top was becoming.

It was suggested that I'd be better to apply a band as my fabric was so lightweight that it wanted to fall forward even without the extra fabric weight. Next step was applying a small band, that is with the fabric attached double to the right side and the stitched edge folded back, leaving a small folded edge showing on the right side. First attempt was applied unevenly and looked really awful. I redid the band but this time it was too long again (87%). And yes, I thought it looked okay at first so went ahead with understitching and overlocking……. All that had to come out again!

I can now remove staystitching and overlocking fairly quickly - though of course I’d rather not!

I hate this fabric!!

Nevertheless, I decided I was going to persevere as I need to be able to do a nice neckline. This was now a practice piece. I understand that if you do something 10 times, you become proficient at it. We’ll see!

I spent a long time removing the bands from armholes and necklines - although I have focused on the neckline, I didn’t like the way the armhole was lying. Following advice, I trimmed the top of the shoulder by 1cm, tapering down front and back. I steamed the edges of armholes and neckline  in the hope of restoring some shape and stay stitched. Originally the armholes had been finished with a hidden facing strip.

Now, I had never previously staystitched a knit. Do you? When I asked advice of one of my groups, they were divided. One lady said I needed to staystitch while others didn’t. I had nothing to lose, so I staystitched but I would love your view on this.

I left the top sitting without band of any kind, just the sleeveless back and front of the top (oh - the hem is finished, all coverstitched in cream and looks lovely!!).

Blackwood cardigan number 4

In the meantime, I used the fabric to cut out another Blackwood cardigan. No major trauma though I definitely prefer a slightly beefier fabric. My bands which should have been identical weren’t and I had to sort that

I used a slightly modified pattern from the tester piece I made earlier in the year (see here), by adding some waist shaping and slightly shortening the sleeves, plus adding a little extra biceps ease.



I said earlier that if you repeat something 10 times, the methods stick, and you become proficient. However, I was reading a blog post the other day (sorry can’t remember whose it was) which suggests that if you repeat you become sloppy. YES! THIS! The only issues with the cardigan were my fault entirely. I used the wrong pattern pieces. I mislaid the instructions and decided I didn’t really need them. I won't go on. All’s well that end well! I didn’t topstitch around the band to hold down the seam allowances as I decided to wait until I had finished the top to have a matching finish. In the end I decided it really wasn’t necessary at all.

Back to the top

I cut the top armhole bands and neckline band to 80%. This figure came up repeatedly when discussing bands though I know it’s not really possible to rely on a formula - but it does give you somewhere to start from. I don’t have the ability to simply feel the correct stretch. Not yet anyway! I was concerned to see how long they were - my neckline must be very stretched from the starting point. I decided to have an exposed band - very narrow on the armholes and wider on the neckline. The reason I wanted narrower on the armholes was that originally they had a concealed band.

In order to apply evenly, I really need to mark the fabric. This time, I not only marked the pieces in quarters - I used eighths! I successfully attached the bands - YAY! I did have a couple of hiccoughs but got there in the end. So the bands are not a completely even width but I guess that’s not going to be the first thing people look for!


I had now intended to turn the raw edges to the inside and top stitch using my coverstitch machine from the right side. My coverstitch machine was perfectly happy with this - however, I am not sufficiently experienced, and my stitching was rather too wonky. I don’t (yet) have a clear foot for the machine and I couldn’t see exactly where the stitches were falling. I was trying to stitch so close to the neckline that in the cream thread the problem was readily visible.  I couldn’t use the neckline band edge as a guide as my band was uneven. I didn’t like the effect of stitching further away. After some thought, I decided I was going to use navy zigzag as this fitted in with my zigzag headache-inducing fabric. I used my edge stitch foot and experimented to see where I wanted it.

I was then left with the issue of the seam allowances, which of course wanted to expose themselves. I felt I had two choices (by now excluding the possibility of a coverstitch finish) - namely 1) trimming close to the stitching and just leaving raw or 2) overlocking the raw edges. I decided eventually to go with 2) thinking that I could always trim narrower if this didn’t look right. I think it’s okay.

Finished top

I said earlier that this piece had become an experimental top to give me experience in attaching a nice-looking neckband. I haven’t done it 10 times as yet but feel a lot more confident. I have a few more times to practice and get better if not perfect.

The top isn’t perfect. The armbands and neckline bands are uneven. I think this comes from a combination of stretched overworked fabric and the extra I trimmed off the armholes. I can deal with that in the future - here I was much more interested in getting the neckband to lie flat against my chest. It does, so that is success.




David thinks the shoulders are too narrow - and I’m inclined to agree. I don’t think that extra centimetre needed to come off, after all. I think the trimming was a little uneven, too - but of course, I’ll alter the pattern and it will be even next time. I also think the armholes don't match each other and that there is too much fabric at the front from halfway down (where I stopped trimming as it happens)

Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it as I feel it fits well (enough) and feels comfortable.

Coverstitch questions

I would have to assemble the top differently to use a binder on my coverstitch machine (I think that one shoulder is left open?). I hadn’t realised that. I don’t have a binder as yet, but am considering. One thing that puzzles me is that people don’t stretch the binding fabric when applying by binder so I’m not sure how they get it to lie flat - it always looks so great. Any comments? Top stitching using the coverstitch machine is possible on the straight and in the round. However, it likes an even hemline!

A new twin set



I like the top and cardigan together - my 4th twinset! Because the cardigan is navy and white, I can wear with different tops, including plain navy and plain white of course. I wear a lot of navy and feel this set will be used a lot. I think it looks pretty good and is very ‘me’. I thought I had taken more photos than these but this is all there is.

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