How to Sew a Jersey Dress on an Overlocker
Sewing jersey garments, especially on an overlocker, can be a scary business, but learning how to sew a simple jersey dress or Tshirt is easier than you might think and so worth it.
In this video I'll show you step by step how to construct Simplicity 8982 including all the tapes and interfacing products I use to help you achieve great results every time.
Sewing and Stabilising the Shoulder Seams
The first step (if you don't have a centre back seam) is to sew and stabilise the shoulder seams.
It is crucial to stabilise the shoulder seams in a knit or jersey garment otherwise they can stretch out of shape with wash and wear and ruin the garment.
Pin the front bodice to the back bodice at the shoulder seams with the pins on top of the front bodice piece.
Feed the ribbon or tape through the gap in your overlocker foot (if you have one) and sew a few stitches to secure it. Make sure the tape or ribbon stays butted up to the right most side of the foot.
Position the first shoulder seam at the foot using the markers to the right of the needle as a guide for sewing the right seam allowance.
If you are unsure use a sewing gauge or tape measure to measure the distance from the left most needle to the marking and this will tell you the seam allowance that will be created if you line the edge of the fabric up with this marking.
Sew the shoulder seam and the ribbon or tape will be inserted into the seam by the overlocker as you sew.
Press the seams towards the back of the garment.
Prepare the Neckline
Next it is time to prepare the neckline for sewing.
I like to iron some fusible seam tape onto the neckline for this purpose. It is stretchy and will stretch with the fabric as you wear it, but will also help it to maintain its shape preventing it from stretching out.
Prepare the Neckband
If you look at knit and jersey ready to wear garments they very often have a neckband that feels a little stiffer and more substantial than the rest of the garment.
I like to recreate this effect by ironing some stretch interfacing onto the back of the neckband before I sew it to the bodice.
Quarter and Pin the Neckband to the Neckline
To make sure the neckband is evenly distributed around the neckline I like to quarter the neckband and neckline then match them up to pin in place.
To quarter the neckline find the centre front and centre back by lying the shoulder seams directly on top of one another, then mark with a pin.
Next lie the garment with the centre front and back on top of each other making sure the raw edges match up around the neckline and mark the halfway points between the centre front and back with a pin. You will usually find the quarter way points are slightly forward of the shoulder seams.
Repeat the process with the neckband.
Pin the neckband to the neckline matching the centre front, centre back and quarter markings. Pin with the pins on the neckband side since this is the side you will sew from.
The neckband should be shorter than the neckline so you have to stretch the neckband slightly as you sew to fit the neckline. This will prevent the neckband from being baggy and will mean it sits flat against your skin.
Overlocking or Sewing the Neckband in place
Stitch the neckband in place gently stretching it as you sew so it matches the neckline.
If using an overlocker you can cut a section out of the neckline where you plan to start sewing (I would recommend towards the back) and this will help you to achieve a neat finish without any bulky overlap.
If sewing a 5/8" seam cut a section 1/4" wide and long enough to fit under the foot so that the needles are in the correct position to start sewing and the blade is in the correct position to start trimming off the rest of the excess fabric.
Sew all the way around the neckline to secure in place.
Press the seam allowances flat, you may also like to coverstitch them in place to secure.
Overlocking the Sleeves and Side Seams
I like to use the traditional method for overlocking the sleeves in place.
First pin the sleeve to the bodice, right sides together, around the sleevehead and armhole matching the notches and shoulder seams.
Stitch in place and press the seam allowances towards the sleeve.
Next pin the side seams and underarm seam together, right sides together and stitch one continuous seam along the underarm and down the side seam.
Press the seam allowances towards the back of the garment.
Coverstitch the Hems
Finally it is time to sew the hems.
If necessary use the same seam tape we used around the neckline to add some stability around the hemline. This will also help to stop the hem stretching out of shape with washing and wearing.
Press the hem up and stitch in place from the right side using a coverstitch.
Give the garment one last press et voila you've sewn a garment on your overlocker!
Most of these steps are also applicable if sewing on a sewing machine, make sure you use the correct type of needle and stitch. You can find our guide on selecting the right needle type here.
Have fun sewing!
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