I've been inspired by the amazing custom T-shirts and other jersey clothing I have been seeing on Etsy and in stores in general. But since I'm trying to save money (and most shops do not make clothing in my size), I decided to give customizing a T-shirt a try. How hard can it be, right? What a wake up call! The first stripe I sewed was just fine, nice and smooth. (Probably because it was on heavier jersey and ribbing.) Then, I tried to sew that stripe onto a tissue weight T-shirt I spent a day ripping apart. It was so frustrating! The seam was rippled, puckered, and just looked terrible. So I got to rip it out again and again while I was trying things that I thought would fix it.
I did my due diligence and tried to find some tips on sewing knits online. It seemed like sewing knits must be some magical talent you're born with because I couldn't find hardly any tips or directions on how to sew a smooth seam on knit fabric. I did find a couple good tips, but mostly, it's all been trial and error (and help from Mom). So to save you from having to rip out seam after seam, here are some tips I learned the hard way.
* Buy ball point needles for your machine. The ball point will push through the knit instead of punching a hole in it.
* Use a stretch stitch on your machine. I've been using what my machine calls a stretch straight stitch. It's pretty much a version of the zig-zag stitch.
* Don't stretch the fabric by pulling it through your machine. Instead, let your feed dogs do their job to guide the fabric through. I usually just guide it to keep it straight (or straight-ish in my case).
* My #1 tip is to use tear away stabilizer! It does wonders for sewing a smooth, non-rippled, non-puckering seam. I haven't even had to adjust my stitch length or width when using it. But I would stay away from the sticky backed tear away stabilizer. It's a huge pain to pull off and tear away after you're done sewing. You're going to pin the seam together anyway.
* Finally, sew test swatches first. If you're anything like me, they seem like a waste of time. But wouldn't you rather just throw the swatch away instead of spending hours ripping out seams?
I hope these tips help! I'll be sure to let you know if I find out any others as I sew!