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Conversational Threads

Rippling neckline on a knit

cycler1729 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am sewing a cotton knit (2 way stretch) and since I altered the neckline I was unable to use the pattern’s facing so I staystitched and then used bias tape stitched on the right side close to the edge and folded it over and topstitched close to the edge but it is all rippley.  Folding it over a second time doesn’t change the result.

How do I get the neckline to stay flat? 



  1. sewelegant | | #1

    I am making a slinky tee at the moment and it is definitely two way stretch, but much easier to sew with than I had thought it would be.  I have sewn with knits for many years and this is one of my favorite ways to finish the edge:  I cut the strip (on the bias if the knit is not that stretchy, having the greatest stretch going the length of the strip) Make it about 2 and 1/4 inch wide.  2" is usually good for me because I use 3/8 inch seams.  Set the machine to a zig zag stitch set at 2 wide and 2 length.  Sew it to the edge right sides together and with the strip on the bottom.  As I sew I guide the strip along the edge without stretching anything and the curve of the neckline will fall into a straight line quite easily with very little manipulation so that you will feel like you are sewing on two straight edges.  (does that make sense?)  I think my point is you do not want to stretch anything out of shape unless the finished product demands it (some necklines and armholes need to be eased to lie flat) just ease it together.  I take it to the iron after this step and press the seam open with a little steam.  Now the edge turns under quite nicely and you will have to do some clipping about every 1/2 inch so the seamline lays straight.  I like to turn the binding all the way under just like a facing and topstitch the edge about 3/8" away from the edge.  Trim off the excess binding, since it is knit it will not ravel and will look fine.  I like to do all this stitching with my walking foot and with the zig zag, because it will stretch and not break, but have done it with a straight stitch.  The important thing is to just lightly steam the seam so you do not stretch it out of shape.  If you don't want the top stitching you can hand sew the hem in place or even use your machine hemming foot.

    There are other ways I will finish the edge using the binding, but it sounds like you want to do it like the facing and I know this works well for me.

    1. cycler1729 | | #2

      Thanks for the response!  I'm not sure that I'm following you - you're saying that I need to sew the strip to the piece using zig zag stitching at the very edge?  Or just  zig zag stitch the strip before attaching it?  If it's stitched at the edge there's nothing to press open.

      Sorry - it's hard for me to visualize what you're telling me to do.


      1. sewelegant | | #5

        I was getting too wordy and "assuming" you were a novice sewer I think.  You have to use something more stretchy than the bias tape and the best thing is a self "bias tape" that you cut from your original fabric.  It is usually cut on the bias, but if your fabric is very stretchy you can just cut it straight across. It has to be wide enough to sew the seam allowance plus enough to let you sew it to the back comfortably ... the same as if you were sewing in the facing.  And I said I like a 3/8 inch seam allowance, but a common one is 1/2 inch.  Do this with a one to one ratio which means you do not stretch anything.  After this is done, you will be able to turn it to the wrong side just like a facing.  (Here is where I told you to do all that pressing.  Lay the piece over a seam roll or a wood pressing agent or even a rolled up magazine covered with a small towel and press the seam open.  This make the edge lie flatter more readily when you turn the bias facing to the inside)  The important thing here is to not press so hard you stretch it out of shape, just steam it good and touch it gently with the iron to press it open.  I always do this pressing with all facings I apply because it makes for a much nicer finished appearance as well as making the job easier.

        I will grade the seam allowance all around to decrease the bulk.  You can do a lot of snipping without worrying about the ravelling since it is a knit.  What I like is that you do not have to turn it under a second time; you just trim the excess facing (binding) off close to the edge after you have top stitched it in place.  Try it on a scrap first to see how it works.

        edit:  I tried to insert a picture but it appears I will have to do a new message as I see no way to do it now.

        Edited 9/12/2008 1:43 pm by sewelegant

        Edited 9/12/2008 2:02 pm by sewelegant

        Edited 9/12/2008 2:13 pm by sewelegant

        1. sewelegant | | #7

          Here is the picture of the tee I am making with the slinky.  I think you can see the binding (facing) is lying flat.  Sorry the picture is big... I still have not learned from anyone how to make it smaller :(

          M.A.  :)

          1. cycler1729 | | #9

            That's a beautiful color!

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #10

            Actually, I like the bigger pictures, you can see the detail better. Nice work, those slinky microfibres can be a witch to work with. Takes special patience. I adore the colour, wish I could wear it. Cathy

          3. moira | | #13

            As someone posted a while ago, if we right click on your photo icon and click 'open link in new window', it comes out the right size.

            Edited 9/12/2008 3:30 pm ET by moira

          4. sewelegant | | #18

            You know, I read that too (I think it was Cherrypops) and so I do it, but mine doesn't change the size hardly at all.  Sometimes it is a bit more clear.  I am waiting for my youngest daughter's visit in a week or so.  She is my computer and sewing expert!  I wish she lived close enough to go see when I wanted to.  Some things you just have to be there for.  I need someone to show me how to make my pictures smaller before I try to send them and I know she can do that.

  2. woodruff | | #3

    Check out Sarah Veblen's Threads video here:http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/tvt044.aspThis is the best video I have ever seen for cooking up our own neckline binding-and there ain't no commercial bias binding involved.Before you re-do the binding, unstitch your kit, lay the neckline flat on your ironing board and gently steam press it back to the pattern's original cutting line/shape. No stretching or pushing as you work, though gentle patting is OK. Then let it dry flat before you move it.When you stitch around a neckline, there is a tendency to 'horse' the fabric into shape by pushing and shoving or stretching. You want to sew the fabric exactly as you want it to hang or lie when it's done. That means gentleness, subtlety, and 'directional sewing' (which can be googled).

    1. cycler1729 | | #4

      That was a great video - the only difference is that I don't want the binding to show - I want it to be folded under but I will use the idea for measuring and spacing it and see if that works.


  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #6

    Does the pattern require a facing type finish? On some of the tops I have made, I have just staystitched the edge, then folded the seam allowance over twice to the wrong side and stitched, a rolled edge. It is firm and flexible. By using a narrow zig zag, almost a straight stitch, it looks more casual, but still a nice finish. Like Sewelegent said, you still have to be gentle and not pull it out of shape as you stitch. Cathy

    Edited 9/12/2008 12:15 pm ET by ThreadKoe

    1. cycler1729 | | #8

      It has a facing pattern piece but I altered the neckline so the facing wasn't right but I was able to use the facing pattern piece as a template and combining what tips you all gave I managed to face the neckline (but no topstitching).

      I've been sewing knits since I began to sew - I LOVE them - but this is the worst (expletive deleted) fabric I've ever bought!  I've had necklines and armholes ripple before but it was always something that I had done wrong and was easily corrected but this fabric is really bad.  I wear everything I sew on my bicycle so strong machine hems are a must for me but I had to handstitch the hem because THAT rippled too! 

      And the worst thing is that I've still got a couple of yards of this but I decided that I'm only going to use it where it doesn't show - like linings for my hats.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #11

        What type of knit was this? Cathy

        1. cycler1729 | | #12

          It's a cotton/poly blend flat knit (no ribs) very stretchy both ways.  I thought that it might be great for a leotard but now I don't know because of the neckline difficulties. 

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            I would be inclined to play with the scraps to see what works in the way of stabilizing it. Spray Starch may help. It does sound nice for a leotard. Elastic in the neckline may also help as well. Many Leotards and Ts have this. Stretch lace looks nice too. I get kinda stubborn, and won't let fabric get the best of me, I guess. KwiKSew has a book on sewing knit sportswear, bathing suits and leotards. If you can get your hands on it, it has some great ideas for that kind of knit. Cathy

          2. cycler1729 | | #15

            Yes, that book is on my "wish list".

            I did think of putting elastic in the neckline when I sew the leotard.   I've sewn a lot of long sleeved turtleneck leotards in the past out of tiny ribbed stretch cotton - I love the way they fit (and look) and don't add bulk under another layer. 

  4. charm | | #16

    try to change the stenght lenghts to keep the neckline flats.  the higher the stitches length the better it will hold the knit fabrics. I have noticed when when I sew a knit skirt for a friend of mine at church it wouldn't stay flat because the stitches length was to small it was at 1 or 2 numbers. so I changed it to higher numbers and never had problems with it before. remember keep the thead tesion smooth, not tight.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #17

      Charm, you have a good point. With knits, you sometimes have to use a longer stitch length. Especially the really stretchy ones. Cathy

      1. charm | | #19

        I have always known through my experience of sewing that anything that is a knit fabrics the thread stitches needs to be set on higher numbers. and also there is two different kinds of foot for the machines. there are pressure foot and adjustable tension foot. pressure foot can press fabrics and sort of hold few fabrics together, but it tend to slip fabrics easily. the adjustable foot it adjusted the pressure on your fabrics without pressing it to hard to sew over few fabrics.  I don't know what kind foot attachments you have. but not and than they have new pressure adjustments on sewing machines that you can just about do any constructions, quilting projects. they also have led screen that can tell you sew certians fabrics with a sergers now. you kinda of touch screen and say you are sewing knit fabrics it automatic set the stiches lenght for you to sew over knit. and shouldn't have not problem from there on

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #20

          The newer machines are great for that, and some of the new feet are too. I have an old machine, with some of the first knit stitches. Some people have basic machines. You can still sew even tricky knits on a very basic machine with a few tricks and have great success! Cathy

          1. charm | | #23

            that is right sewers can still do the tricks with older machines. the sewers can also improve their sewing skills by just learning tips, books, video, and so on. I have done everything I can to still  to this days learn more advanced sewing for. and eveything I have learned was on my own.  I like to work with complicated projects. I get to bored doing easy projects. lol.

        2. cycler1729 | | #21

          Unfortunately my machine is one of the older ones and I am already using the longest stitch length (which isn't very long at all). 

          It really is just this specific fabric.

          1. charm | | #22

            is there a way you can use a zigzag stitches on your older machine for your neckline area. if it seems like that stitches lenght don't do the tricks try the zigzag the next time when you  sew the knit

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