I have this simple white cropped tank top that I love to wear with my high-waisted skirts. I've been wishing it had a higher neck and bust darts.
I also have this simple creamy hemp/cotton knit jersey fabric that was bought to be a tunic, but after washing and drying it, it was too see-through for that.
So yesterday I decided to sew a copy-but-better version of my tank top!
No pattern but the old tank - I just laid the tank on my fabric and cut out the new one, adding on 1/2 inch seam allowance, as well as re-doing the neck curve so it is a bit higher in the front and back.
For the darts, I just added an extra inch of length to the front. If this was woven I would want more extra length than that (and would do the math/experiments to figure out the exact amount) but since this is knit, it does not need to be exact. I have one or two jersey knit tops that have darts roughly this size, and I am happy with their fit.
I often debate purchasing a coverstitch machine or a used home sewing machine - I have a serger and an industrial sewing machine. I LOVE how my sewing machine has uber-consistent stitch length, and has the power to plunge through layers of denim without noticing. But with that comes the lack of ability to do a zigzag or other stretch-stitch. I could supplement it with an inexpensive or used home sewing machine so I can ziq-zag on those rare occasions that I want it. Or I could splurge and buy a coverstitch machine, which would do what I want the zigzag stitch to do better... so far I have been making-do with the two machines I have.
This time I bought wooly nylon thread, hoping it'd be more functional than my regular thread. My fabric is not ultra-stretchy, and so I expect that the side seams should be alright - there is little vertical stretch in the fabric, and minimal vertical strain on the seams.
For the neck and armhole finish, I cut long strips of the fabric (vertical strips, so like the side seams, not very stretchy) about an inch wide. I serged the strips right-side-to-right-side around the edges, being careful to stretch the strip slightly and NOT stretch the neck/arm. Then I wrapped the strip around the serge, to the wrong side of the body fabric, and stitched in the ditch to hold it down. I used my sewing machine to do this, with wooly nylon and a sharp needle. Like the side seams, I *think* the lack of stretch in my binding should keep my straight stitches from popping and hopefully also prevent the neck from stretching out.
The risky seam on this thing is the bottom hem. I serged, folded under, and then made two rows of straight stitches. From the right side, it looks indistinguishable from a cover stitch. But it isn't. I stretched the fabric slightly while sewing and hopefully that is allowing enough ease for me to get it on without popping the hem.
It is a fussy task. You have to stretch your fabric enough that there is give when the shirt is stretched. But stretch it too much, and you have a rippled hem. I do have some practice on other projects, lots of rippled and popped seams behind me, and this one turned out ok on the first try.
Now for the wearing. Over this summer I shall discover if my sharp needle and straight stitches were poor choices!