Overlocker Tips: Sewing a Knit Neckline

OK, so another overlocker quickie today. If you’re not new to overlockers, then look away now, because you’ll already know this. But if you are sewing your first steps on an overlocker, after sewing side seams, this is the next thing you are going to want to know. Adding a neckline band…how to sew a knit neckline

(Actually this technique can be applied at the cuffs and hem too, as an alternative to straightforward hemming. Only difference there, is that the edges are straight and not curved and the band you are applying doesn’t necessarily need to be that much shorter than the edge you are applying it to. But that’s another post! )

And before anyone asks, because yes, this fabric is awesome, it’s from here ūüėČ

Back to necklines. A neckline band is simply a long strip of fabric, sewn together (at the short ends with RS together) to form a loop, then folded in half (WS together with raw edges aligned)….how to sew a knit neckline

The total circumference of the neckband should generally be 2-3″ shorter than the circumference of the neckline you are applying it to. (This can be dependant on the amount of stretch in your fabric, but in most cases 2-3″ gets you there. I have an in depth post on that coming soonish). The band is cut shorter,then the stretch inherent in the knit fabric is used to ease it onto the neckline. Once attached, it will ping back to it’s original size and in the process it will pull the neckline inwards slightly; and this action is what allows the neckband to sit flat against the body. Make sense?

With the neckband sewn in a loop and folded over, mark the CB (the seam on your band), CF, and sides with pins. (Essentially 4 equally spaced pins dividing your neckband into quarters). On your neckline mark the CB and CF with pins…how to sew a knit neckline


With your garment right side out, we are pinning the band to the neckline with raw edges aligned. We are pinning at 4 points initially. Pin the CB and CF of your band to the CB and CF of your neckline. Then pin the sides of your band, to the shoulder seams points of your neckline…how to sew a knit neckline


Between those four points you have pinned, ¬†the neckline will be longer than the band as pictured below. Obviously, because we cut the neckband shorter…how to sew a knit neckline


By stretching the neckband we can get it to “temporarily” be the same length as the neckline…how to sew a knit neckline


Work your way around each quarter section of the neckband, (the gaps between each of the original four pins) stretching it to fit the neckline and pinning in place as you go. Pin perpendicular to the raw edge (vertically) as pictured.how to sew a knit neckline


There it is all pinned in place. Don’t worry that the neckline looks longer and wavy still. We sort that out at the machine…how to sew a knit neckline

When you serge around this seam, you will need to stretch the neck band again. So you are holding the whole thing at tension, (so the neckband and neckline sit flat and flush against eachother) as it passes under the presser foot. (Remove the pins as you go! )

It helps to orientate the garment so that when you sew, the neckline (which is slightly longer) is facing the feed dogs, and the neckband is on top. In the same way as a sewing machine will feed the bottom layer of fabric ever so slightly quicker, so does a serger. Not massively. But it helps. ( You can also engage the differential feed on your serger to aid this process. But that’s another post. ¬†Stretching the neckband manually like this works just fine!)how to sew a knit neckline

When serging “in the round” like this, just before your needles reach the point where you started, manouver the edge of your seam to the inside of the blade. So you continue sewing but are no longer cutting. (You don’t want to cut the overlock stitches you have already sewn). Continue sewing about 1″ past your starting point, so you have a double section of overlock stitch. (It’s a bit like the equivalent of a backstitch on a standard machine without the going backwards part! You’re securing the first part of your stitching by going over it again). At this point, stop sewing, lift your presser foot, then serge off a chain long enough to tie off. ¬†(See previous post on finishing off your thread tails).

Et voila. A neckline to be proud of!how to sew a knit neckline

Thing with an overlocker is, it’s more noisy than it is actual scary. Just like your standard machine, it will only go as fast as you stamp on the foot pedal. Don’t stamp on the foot pedal is what I meant to say! Go gently, and you’ll be fine. And in no time at all you’ll be wondering what all the fuss (and fear) was about and you’ll be whizzing through necklines lighting fast. (Oh and at this stage above, you would press the seam to the inside and topstitch down using your standard machine. I’ve pressed but not topstitched here because my Janome HATES knits. So I’m on the hunt for an alternative to replace her. Any suggestions welcomed. If your standard machine sews knits like a dream, I wanna know!)

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Overlocker tips: Burying thread tails

I have a few overlocker related posts in the works.¬†Burbling away in the background. One in particular is quite exciting to the geek in me. And if you follow me on Instagram you may already know what that one will be about ūüėČ

I’ve noticed a few “new overlockers” popping up on my feeds courtesy of another Lidl/Aldi deal. And because I have a few knit projects going on I thought it would be perfect timing to take a few pics as I go of the various little techniques involved in using an overlocker, for those of you who are new to this magnificent piece of kit. Be sure to check out these posts too if you’re a little nervous of your “beast”,¬†and you’ll have it tamed in no time. But trust me, (because I’ve been there) it is very much worth your time, getting to know your machine properly at the start. You’ll feel so much more at ease when you come to sew a garment that you care about getting right, with fabric you care about not wasting, if you take a little time before hand to get to know, and have a play with your machine on scraps/samples first. And these posts (covering anatomy, threading, and tension settings) should give you a good jumping off point. ¬†Just click on the image¬†to view each post….

Anatomy of a serger/overlocker How to thread your serger/overlocker Establish the correct tension settings for your serger/overlocker

But in the meantime I thought I’d share a finishing tip for thread tails. Just as with sewing a standard seam, you’ll have thread tails to secure and finish. Firstly, there is no backstitch option on an overlocker obvs. So I always knot to secure, close to the stitching…burying-overlocker-threads-1



Thread the tail onto a yarn needle…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1



Pass the needle through the looper threads for about 2 inches…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1


Then pull the complete tail all the way through…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1

….and snip the excess close to the stitching.

how to bury overlocker thread

That’s it. Thread tails neatly buried ūüôā For an even neater finish you can pass the tail/needle¬†under the threads right on the edge of the fabric (where the upper and lower looper threads meet & wrap round eachother) &¬†inbetween the two layers of fabric of the overlocked edge. So they are sandwiched and invisible. I do that when I’m feeling particularly conscientious ūüėČ ¬†This piece is a neckband. If I’d buried the tails on the reverse of this, then it would be invisible on the finished garment once the seam is pressed to the inside and topstitched down. Depends on how neat you want to be of course. If you’re anything like me that’s often mood related, lol! Whatever you do though, this has got to be better than a dangly tail!


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50 + Seriously good denim refashions


Very shortly I shall be taking back control of my blog (after a few days in Italy sans kiddo that is!). But before that, I really really really wanted to collate some of our makes for this years series of The Refashioners in one place, for posterity. A one stop shop for jeans refashioning inspiration if you like. ¬†I seriously can’t include everyone’s (there were over 700 posts on Instagram alone!!) So I’ve included a large selection (60) of them here for posterity. Including some that haven’t been shared on here before. (All the rest can be found on the various Pinterest, IG and FB pages). I have a question for you at the bottom of the page too….

Just click on the image to go to the source….

Elisalex - By Hand London Erin - Calivintage Gabby Young - Gabberdashery Heather - Closet Case Files Marila Walker Portia Lawrie - Makery Megan Nielsen Zoe - So Zo... Joost de Cock - Make my Pattern Kate - The Fold Line Rosie Martin - DIY Couture Wendy Ward - MIY Collection Sasha Werner - Secondo Piano Jenna Bennet - Just Sew Jenna Colette Patterns Ingrid - We the Sewing Mirjam Liechti Rachel - House of Pinheiro Beth - Sew DIY Deborah Makes Felix Quentin Carly in Stitches Deepti Sews for Sanity The Secret Costumier Salty Mom Stitchless TV My Petite Sophie Mindy Brown Emma Bajema The Petite Cat Stitch & Cappucino Men Sew Rosa Lemos Rosa Lemos Thumblenina Helen's Closet Selmin - Tweed & Greet Stitch Remedy Morris Sews Messy Essy Makes Trish Stitched Lady Sewalot Falafel & Bee Susan Young Sewing Sewing with Kate Sara Keel Vision of Ashlar Handmade by Carolyn Natasha Sniatowsky The Silk Hills Think Tran Vera Luna Vera Luna Martiarti Linzi Taylor Denim Biker Jacket Vicki Halliday Denim Sandals Fadanista Saskia van Dantzig

So, that was jeans. We did shirts last year. So my question to you is…..what in the hell do we do next year?? Any ideas?? I want your input for The Refashioners 2017. Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see us tackle next. And who knows, that may just be the theme next year!

Back in a few days after some pasta and vino in beautiful Italy!

Big hugs!

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The Refashioners 2016: And the winners are….

This is a really exciting decision to reveal! But HARD. Man this was hard! This years challenge, I think it’s fair to say, has captivated people’s imagination, creativity and ingenuity more than any series before it. Maybe it’s because we ALL have old pairs of jeans that we keep meaning to “do something with” and this challenge has given us the impetus to actually get on and do it. ¬†Maybe it’s because denim is such an awesome, versatile and timeless fabric. Maybe it’s because jeans themselves throw up so many challenges that the only option is to take the ingenuity up a gear in order to overcome them. Maybe the inspiring makes that have been appearing all over this blog & the various social media channels has opened our eyes to the potential in old pairs of jeans. That jeans refashioning is NOT inevitably going to end up looking all “Becky home Ecky” (unless you want it to which is equally fine of course!). Maybe, just maybe, it’s a combination of all of those things. This years challenge has achieved everything I wanted it to….and then some!! I have been FLOORED by the amount of time, thought and creative energy that has gone into everyone’s makes. ¬†Which of course has made it all the harder to arrive at this decision. But arrive at a decision we must. So without further ado…



This dress by Messy Essy had me (well, all of us) floored from the moment we saw it. The sheer AMOUNT of work that went into this is almost enough on it’s own. That intricate central panel of ¬†quilt pieced cubes itself took days of painstaking work. When I first saw that on it’s own (before it became a dress!) it occurred to me that you could frame it and put it on a wall as a piece of art in it’s own right. Add to that the careful thought and placement of the various hues of blue to achieve not only a 3d cube effect, but an ombre 3d cube effect!!! Hello!! Then, add to that the way it sits perfectly as part of the overall design of the dress, brilliantly executed and perfectly suited to the wearer. The simple elegance of this dress when worn, belies the intricacy and skill needed to make it. All of this making “the cuboid dress” a worthy winner of the first prize.The Refashioners 2016 - Your Makes - Vol I

You can read more about Essy’s process and thoughts on the challenge here.



Our special recognition prize goes to Selmin for¬†this awesome denim sweatshirt. The general consensus is that it was just so well executed, so wearable. Edgy, bang up to date, makes clever use of the original seams. The colour blocking is so well considered and the subtle sashiko detailing acts to tie all of those blue hues together even further. I’ve heard it said that many people prefer their refashions not to look like they were made from jeans. I don’t think this does, but it does subtly nod to the garment’s original incarnation, and denim’s workwear history; and plays a little homage to the way clothes used to be repaired rather than thrown away. Yet it does all this whilst looking modern and, more importantly, really reflecting the wearers individual style. And I just love it for all of those reasons. (And actually would like to steal it for myself!!)The Refashioners 2016 - Your Makes - Vol 2

You can read more about Selmin’s process and thoughts on the challenge here.


It has honestly been astounding, and at times quite emotional (I know I’m a sop) each time a new entry popped up. ¬†And to read all of your blog posts and hear what you have gained from this challenge. That it was hard, but you were glad you did it. That it made you realise that if you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you realise how much more you are capable of. In many instances that this refashioned garment is your proudest make to date. That you will never look at a pair of old jeans in the same way again. That you’ve caught the refashioning bug despite having never really considered it before. Seeing all of those makes and hearing all of your thoughts on this challenge, has made me so proud. Proud that I set the ball rolling on this challenge. But the truth is, I am not responsible for all of this. You all are. ¬†I just set the scene and lit the touch paper. And just LOOK where our sewing community took it. THAT I am proud to be a part of.

Thank you to everyone who lent their energy to this years challenge. And while you may not have won “the big prize”, you have inspired me. And you have inspired your fellow sewers. And you have proven yet again how amazing¬†our sewing community is. Hopefully you will have taken new things from this challenge that you never knew about yourself and about refashioning. And those are all wins. Bigger ones in my book. So thank you.

Question is……what the hell do I come up with to top this next year????!!!!

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