Tried to make a knit jammie top, and this neckline is yucky too

bayareafrancyMay 29, 2009

Wondering how many tries it will take me until I get something that truly looks nice?

Seriously: am I expecting too much here? Do I need to spend a day making 25 necklines and nothing else? It is so frustrating to spend so much time on a shirt that looks ok, and then wreck it with a crappy neckline.

*deep breath* Ok, it took me months and months of knitting to get my stitches looking nice and even, so I guess this is going to take a while too.

(My son's flannel jammie pants came out super cute. Then I washed them, and they shrank so much he'll grow out of them in about a week. Lesson: prewash flannel, even though it is so nice to sew with that factory-ironed, perfectly flat and crisp material.)

Thinking of starting another shirt for me. Oh, how much disappointment can I take in one week?



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I wash all my fabrics before i sew them.I don't like surprises!!

I've made tons of t-shirts and never have trouble with the neckline.Are you pulling on it as you sew??Are you using ribbing or a facing.
If you have some scrap t-shirt fabric that you don't need make a few pieces that are just necklines,and practice on those.Also make sure you use a ball point needle for knits.

Don't give up!!! This board may not be super active,but there's always someone popping in and out that can help you.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 3:38PM
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(My son's flannel jammie pants came out super cute. Then I washed them, and they shrank so much he'll grow out of them in about a week. Lesson: prewash flannel, even though it is so nice to sew with that factory-ironed, perfectly flat and crisp material.)

If you wash flannel (or any fabric) before you cut it, you then have to iron it before you cut. If you don't, how could you lay out the pattern on the straight grain? When the fabric is ironed and the wrinkles removed, the fabric will be very close to the original size.

I never wash fabric, have made a million garments for adults and kids and never have a problem with shrinkage. Try ironing the PJs to see if the fabric really did shrink, or if it's just wrinkles taking up space.

I know you're supposed to iron first, like kathimgd does, but I find it almost impossible to find the true straight grain after laundering, and you have to finish the cut edges before laundering or you have a frayed mess. Add the ironing and it takes more time to prep the fabric than the sewing does! No fun, and not for me. Plus, garments you purchase ready-made (except jeans) are not laundered. Do you experience that much shrinkage with them?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:28AM
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I made DH a flannel shirt many years ago and did not prewash. The shirt came out great, "best shirt ever"! Then I washed it and it shrank, and each time I washed it, it shrank a bit more. Needless to say I think DH was able to wear the "best shirt ever" 4 times before it was too small.
Kathy G in MI, whose DH has not forgotten that fiasco!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:42AM
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....Practice makes perfect! After a million or so garments, I still rip out seams and make stupid mistakes, don't like the way a certain thing fits or looks, whether for myself or someone else. I have a "rule" when I sew: I get to cuss all I want if no one is around to hear me; otherwise, I cuss silently.

Pattern and fabric compatibility is very important, and there is no way to tell before you make the garment if this particular fabric is perfect for this view of this particular pattern. The pattern envelopes make suggestions, but they are not specific to the piece of cloth you are holding in your hand. Sometimes, the fabric I choose for a particular pattern is not exactly compatible; sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it's perfect.

Don't forget this, too: When you buy ready-to-wear, you get to try it on and reject it if you don't like certain aspects of the garment - fit, neckline, length, "it just doesn't look right." And you'll find that a garment you make will be absolutely perfect in a particular fabric so you want to make it again, but the next time you make the very same garment from the very same pattern but in a different fabric -alas, it isn't so great. Some fabrics and patterns are meant for each other; others not so much. The garment manufacturers get to experiment with a lot of versions and combinations to get things right. We don't have that luxury. On the whole, though, you will have many more successes than failures.

Keep on trying!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:54AM
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I remember seeing your shirt story, Kathy! The thing is, you had no way of knowing how many times you'd have had to wash the fabric before you cut it to get it to stop shrinking, so even if you had washed the fabric, the shirt would still have kept shrinking!

I, too, have had a garment or two shrink every time I washed it (but not one I made!) but it is so rare that I would never wash every piece of fabric before I cut it. Waaayyyy too much work for too little return!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Staystitching, staystitching, staystitching - & also use care handling the cut fabric pieces - learned that the hard way long ago = J

A stitch, in time, saves 9, after all...

IME, prewashing & drying fabric in a dryer depends on the fabric - if that's how you plan to care for the garment, then it makes sense to treat it 1st - esp. w/ kids' clothes. I think you can look for 'preshrunk' fabrics, too, if you're buying new material. (I use a lot of vintage/thrift store fabrics, so I don't always have that info.)

I'm curious, tho - is the fabric used for the PJs fire-retardant?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:16AM
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It always makes me laugh and shake my head, Carolb, that almost ALL the gorgeous flannels made for babies and kids say, "Not intended for children's sleepwear." How ridiculous is that? They even sell ready-to-wear pajamas in Wal-Mart (or is it K-Mart?) with that label. Ridiculous!

About washing/drying first: I'd much rather take the chance that once in a blue moon the garment will shrink than wash and dry every piece of fabric I use. Shrinkage happens so rarely that it's not worth the time and trouble. And like kathyg above says, her finished garment kept on shrinking every time she washed it! It would have done her no good at all to wash the fabric before she made the shirt.

I think it's more important to be sure to find the straight grain of the fabric - and, as you say, stay stitch - than wash the fabric.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:30AM
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Or, make the jammies one or two sizes too big, and then hope they shrink. That would guarantee they won't shrink, though. But, he'll always grow into them. : D But of course, by the time he grows into them, he may be too old for teenage mutant ninja turtles, or Scooby Doo. Let me get back to you on this... ; )

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:59AM
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It seems that flannel is especially bad for shrinkage, but I could be wrong. I used to buy my sons flannel pants (and cotton pants, denim pants, etc.) from a company called Mullberribush. They don't prewash, and the flannel versions I bought always shrank 1-2 sizes (e.g. several inches in length). So the little voice in my head warned me to prewash the flannel fabric I bought. However, it messes up that nice flat fabric so I didn't.

I didn't iron them, but I was able to smooth and stretch them a bit. So I think you are right Sherry, that at least part of the "shrinkage" was wrinkling. Hopefully he'll be able to wear them for a while. He loves them (and hasn't noticed that the neckline is far from perfect).

The flannel is not treated. In general, I have never bought flame retardant jammies for my kids, preferring all cotton sleepwear (or ideally, wool). I did think about it when I was looking at the fabric. But, the flame retardant flannel was more than twice the price (5.99/yd vs 12.99/yd). Given my lousy beginner skills, I couldn't spend that much. Also, there was no negotiating the elephant pattern. And the elephants only came in the regular flannel. So I have just warned my son not to smoke in bed. ;-) (Thank you for mentioning the issue--it's something to think about.)



    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:11PM
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I really identify with you. I am working on a cute dress made of rayon, and it looks wonderful, but when I sewed the neckline last night, it curled away from my skin and looked like I used a cantaloupe to size the neck line. It was embarrassing! It is also my first neck line and I am determined not to quit until I have stitched it so many times that either the store runs out of thread, or I wear out the seam, whichever is first.

I did not staystitch... which I will go back and do. I read your post about necklines and it seems like everyone does a neckline that the binding goes around the neckline, rather than behind it. I also did not stitch in the ditch, but rather stitched a scant bit off. I think this added to the curl. I will give it another try.

Yay for you making the PJ bottoms. I have made a ton of them and I just tell my kids when they put them on that they grew SO MUCH since I measured them! LOL! Each time I wash them, they grow even more! Once, I sewed my daughter's zebra fabric bottoms and realized I cut the pattern upside down. I told her to stand on her head and it would be fine.

I feel the same way you do... must we settle for home made looking when it is made from home?

Do you know how to get pics into the posts? I will take some pictures of before and afters and post what I discover about necks. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 5:17PM
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I'm butting in here from my usual haunts of the GW Quilting and Cacti and Succulent forums, where we often post pictures right in our posts.

You can sign up at the free site and then upload to your account there any pictures you want to post here. Then you hover the cursor over the picture you want to post on a GW forum and a menu will appear underneath it. Click on the code labeled HTML and then hit the Control and C keys on your computer keyboard to copy it. Here is a picture to show you what I mean by the menu.

Next, come back here and with the cursor inside your message box, hit Control and V. This will paste a link in your message, and when you hit "Preview Message," you will see your picture embedded in the message on the next page.
For this sort of thing, GW does not restrict the size of the picture to 60kb. The picture you see here of red flowers, for instance, comes out *really* big!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Hi bayareafrancy! I am totally new to this group, and I hope you have not been agonizing over the enckline problem too much. I have been a professional sewer for years, and had an art-to-wear business. O.k., here are a couple of suggestions: you might try using light weight iron-on fusible. I like the nylon type, and I cut bias strips, about 5/8 of an inch wide, and iron on the wrong side. Then you can finish with your serger, or not if you don't have one. Turn over your hem and stitch. When you sew, hold your right hand behind the presser foot to "scrunch" the hem. What this does is ease your fabric. You also might want to trim your fabric so you are using a 1/4 inch hem. As long as your stitching goes through the interfacing, you will not pull the fabric. The other thing you can do, using the fusible interfacing again, turn the hem under before you stitch the shoulder together. Factories do it this way. In other words, stitch one shoulder, apply fusible interfacing to neckline, turn hem under leaving about 1 inch unturned at unfinished shoulder.
Then sew the other shoulder closed, then turn over the remaining neckline hem. I hope this is clear enough for you to try this, I'm not as good at explaining as I am at showing, but I would love to help you, I know how frustrating this can be.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 8:45PM
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