As you know if you have been reading my blog for a while I am a big fan of knits and especially of smocking on knits. Sewing knits isn’t hard but it does have a few challenges. One of which is getting a great looking neckband. A serger is ideal to use to sew on the neckband because it gives that great stretch, but achieving a consistent width can be a challenge. If it isn’t right the seam allowance is gone and ripping out that serged edge is quite a pain, not to mention doing so without stretching out your neckline. Well through trial and error, I have come up with the following method, and there is a video at the bottom of this post showing exactly how I do it!
So let's get started!
First form the band into a circle by serging the short ends together and then folding the band in half with wrong sides together and the long edges matching. If you are lining up seams such as at an underarm, or at a shoulder, pin the band to the garment by putting the pin through all 3 seams ( 2 of the band and the 1 of the garment) at the stitching line and then coming out at the edge (just because everything lines up at the edge, doesn't mean that it does at the stitching line). On a neckline, I prefer the seam at center back and that is what I have done for the top I am making.
At the sewing machine (yes, we will get to the serger), using a straight stitch and a contrasting thread, start a half inch before the seam and stitch right across the seam for a total of about an inch. Use the seam allowance specified in the pattern, but move the needle one position to the right so it is just shy of the specified seam allowance.
Pin or clip the rest of the band to the neckline. I prefer binding clips for a neck band. They don’t distort or stretch the fabric, yet hold everything together.
At the serger using a regular 4 thread overlock stitch, begin about an inch before the line you stitched at the machine. Lift the presser foot and slip the garment under the foot and lower it, rather than just guiding it in. This helps to keep the two layers lined up and prevents the top one from shifting. Guide the band as you serge so that the left needle is lined up with the stitching by the time you get to it. (This is why I use a contrasting thread). Serge around the band. As you approach the starting point, serge off the starting angled stitching by keeping everything lined up. Once you meet the original stitching that is inline with the current stitching, angle off the edge. Trim the serged thread tail. I then go back to my sewing machine and just zigzag a stitch or two over the thread tail to secure it. This locks the serged edge without adding bulk or a rough bump that can irritate like a sealant might. And here is my finished neckband!
And here is the video tutorial!