I guess I know what I need to fix for the next one. Plus a wedge taken out of the centre back.
Anyway. This post is less about the Renfrew, which poses obvious challenges to those of us not a pear-shape, than it is about what I used it to experiment with on my cover-stitch machine, which is: covering the back neck and shoulder seams!
This all started years ago, when Frances would complain bitterly and endlessly that the seams on the knit shirts and pajamas I made her were itchy.
I top-stitched the serged seams down and they were still itchy. I replaced regular serger thread with woolly nylon and they were still itchy.
So I looked at her store-bought t-shirts. They all had fully enclosed neck-back and shoulder seams. And so did mine, when I went to look.
Casual t-shirts, dressy t-shirts, workout t-shirts, all those seams enclosed–usually with a strip of self-fabric.
I spent a few months squinting at different kinds of bound seams.
Some had a double-row of chain-stitching. Some appeared to be sewn on with a regular straight stitch, or a narrow zig-zag. Some had only one visible row of stitching on the outside, indicating that they’d been sewn on in the ditch and then flipped over like a quilt binding. And some, where they were only sewn over the neck-back seam and not the shoulder seam, appeared to have been serged in when the neck binding was sewn on, and then flipped over the seam and stitched down afterwards.
Generally, the casual and workout t-shirts are the ones where the binding extends through the shoulder seams. Dressy, drapey shirts tend only to bind the back neck seam. The casual shirts are also more likely to use a chainstitch rather than (what looks like) a straight stitch.
Guess what, Dear Readers? Coverstitch machines can do chain stitches when you use only two needles.
Anyway. I’ve now experimented on half a dozen t-shirts for myself, Frances, and Mysterious Others, and I’ve found the following very helpful:
1. Cut an on-grain strip of self-fabric about 1″ wide.
2. Pin it so that the bulk of the strip faces away from the seam allowance to be covered.
3. Using the chain stitch, stitch in the ditch on the inside. So make sure the looper thread matches the fabric, because it’ll show.
4. Trim if you want.
5. Fold the edge, then flip over to cover the serged (or other) seam. Pin excessively.
6. Stitch as close to the edge as possible, trying to keep an even distance from the first seam.
It’s best if you do this right after attaching the neck binding and before attaching the sleeves, so you can bind the shoulder seams right up to the edge and neaten the ends up when the sleeves are sewn/serged on.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the factories have special machines that do double rows of these stitches at once so there’s less room for error. The store-bought ones are remarkably even, though they do occasionally wobble (I’ve squinted at a lot of these seams by now). But thanks to long hair and personal laziness, I’ve decided I’m ok with the odd more-than-wobble on my own neck and shoulder seams–it’s not that obvious. Best of all, Frances does not complain about itchy seams on these shirts.
And they do look nicer when you’re not wearing them, don’t you agree?
I know! It’s a tutorial, kind of! I’m appropriately ashamed. In my own defence, I did a bit of half-hearted googling and I couldn’t find this elsewhere, so may it be useful to you, and may you soon exceed my limited skills and be producing bound neck-back-and-shoulder seams of great evenness and beauty.