A few people have asked recently how to make T-shirts and other stretch items for their children, and especially how to get the binding looking so nice. This tutorial will show you how to sew confidently with stretch fabric and hopefully you can then branch out and sew many comfy and super cute clothes for your little man. The good news is you don’t need an overlocker (serger), just a few essential tips on how to maximise the potential of your regular home sewing machine!
This summer Jude has lived in two sleeveless onesie’s that I made for him. Such a practical item of clothing for our hot Australian summer, yet so hard to buy one that fits well and luckily, so easy to sew one (or two or three) yourself! So here it is:
This pattern has been designed to fit my son who is about 7 months old, and quite a solid build). It is a slim fit on him, but looks great. So I would say it’s about a 6-month size (with growing room) to be safe. You will have to adjust to fit if you need it in a different size, based on outfits that fit your baby at home. Click here to download the free 6 month sized pattern.
Gather your supplies:
70cm good quality cotton knit with a very small percent of lycra/spandex*
4 small wooden buttons
3 sets of snaps
ball point needles for your machine- this is important!
*Wash and preshrink fabric. I always dry fabric in dryer before cutting to make sure it has fully shrunk (often by about 10%) so the finished garment will retain is shape when washed in future.
Stretch stitches to use:
For sewing your seams together, the stitch in the photo below is the one I would use. It looks like a straight stitch, but has a small amount of zig zag so the fabric will stretch when worn and pulled over little heads repeatedly.
The walking foot:
If you don’t have one, don’t panic! You will still be able to make the garment. However, if you do have a walking foot it is fantastic for sewing great seams with stretch. The picture shows two fabric samples. On the right a regular foot was used and you can see the seam is bubbled or rippled looking. The sample on the left was using the walking foot and it really helps seams to sit flat (photo doesn’t do it justice). However, if you only have a regular foot, a good steam iron should sort most the wrinkles out.
Lets get started!
1. Open the PDF and print off pattern pieces making sure the pattern is to scale. Check by measuring the square, it should be 5cm x 5cm. Join the two pattern pieces together at the line where it says ‘Join here’, and trace off your front piece and back piece onto separate pieces of paper
2. Cut out your front and back pieces taking care to match up stripes (see picture), and cut on the fold.
3. Transfer markings from pattern onto fabric with a washable marker, all X’s along bottom edge and shoulder markings.
4. Cut binding pieces as measured on PDF pattern. You may want to cut them a little longer if you are concerned about your fabric not being stretchy enough.
If you are cutting the binding from garment fabric and it is striped, decide which colour in the stripe you want as binding before cutting. For example, I chose white for the binding so made sure white was showing 1-2cm from the edge of binding.
5. Pin the front neck binding to onesie front, right sides together.
Stitch about 1cm from edge (using the stitch shown at beginning of tutorial) stretching to fit as you go.
Repeat step for onesie back, joining back neck binding to onesie back.
6. Press binding flat with a light steam iron on both front and back pieces.
7. Turn binding under to wrong side of garment. I don’t bother pinning, but if you think it will help keep your binding an even width, go for it!
8. Topstitch binding in place with a medium zig zag stitch (good old regular zig zag, not the type we are sewing seams with) on right side of garment. Again, stretch slightly as you sew.
The trick here is to sew as slowly as you need to keep the topstitching straight, while folding the binding under so it looks uniformed the whole way along the edge. With practice, you will get much quicker at this!
9. Trim excess binding off back of garment, not to close to stitching though!
10. Give pieces a light steam press.
11. Join front and back pieces together at shoulder seam, matching up markings. The back piece should overlap the front.
12. Stitch them together about 1/2cm from edge to hold in place.
13. Now its time to stitch the side seams together, taking care to match stripes as you sew as well as stretch fabric slightly.
14. Take one sleeve binding and stitch ends together to form a circle.
Repeat with other sleeve binding.
Repeat with bottom edge binding.
15. Mark sleeve binding circles into ¼’s with marker, and armhole into ¼’s as well.
Mark bottom edge binding circle into 1/8’s with marker.
16. Slide the armhole onto sewing machine bed (or is that called the arm too?), and the binding over that (right sides together). See photo below.
17. Stitch together 1cm from edge, taking care to match markings as you sew.
Repeat for other armhole.
18. Follow steps 6-10 for finishing off armhole binding in the same way you finished neck bindings.
19. Stitch the bottom edge binding to bottom edge of garment matching up markings on binding with X’s along garment edge, right sides together.
Follow steps 6-10 for finishing off bottom edge binding in the same way you finished neck bindings.
20. Insert snaps in bottom edge about 3cm apart. I have a snap press, but you can use the snaps you hammer in or even buy snap tape, which you sew on.
21. Sew on your 4 wooden buttons taking care to sew them to the binding only, not the fabric underneath.
Well done, you are now finished!!
One last step.
22. Take one beautiful chubby baby boy, dress him in his comfortable new onesie and admire those gorgeous rolls and milky skin!
and remember, boy will be boys.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!