How to use cuffing for jumper and sweatshirt patterns

Lauren shares her tips and hints for giving your jumper and sweater projects a professional finish with cuffing fabric.

I’ve always been partial to a comfy jumper and over the years I’ve made countless Grainline Linden sweatshirts!

With the fabric and notions available for these types of projects every increasing it’s no wonder that everyone fancies adding another jumper to their handmade wardrobe.

In this post I’m going to focus on how to use cuffing bands that come on cards like this. I’ll show you all the different types available as well as how to use them with different classic jumper style patterns.

Check out my latest youtube video to hear my chat about them and demonstrate who to sew with them, or read on for all my tips as well as links of where to find the supplies needed in my online shop.

Classic Jumper Sewing Patterns

First up, let's cover what type of patterns you would use cuffing fabrics for. There are lots of jumper and sweater patterns out there and in this post I’m going to focus on ones that specifically have the classic details of neckbands, sleeve cuffs and hem bands that need to be made out of a stretchy fabric. Here are some examples, all of which have differences in the neckline shape, type of sleeve insertion and fit.

The Tilly and the Buttons Billie Sweatshirt

The Billie is the ultimate, classic, comfy sweatshirt with a relaxed shape, crew neckline and classic trim details.

It features classic set in sleeves where you see the seam sitting around the outer edge of the shoulder.

You can also choose from 3 different sleeve styles: keep it effortless with cuffed, straight full length or 3/4 length sleeves, or add some drama with on-trend balloon sleeves and deep cuffs.

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

The Linden Sweatshirt gives a modern update to the classic sweatshirt. It features a relaxed fit with raglan sleeves, where you see the seam come diagonally up from under the arm into the neckline.

The neckline itself is slightly scooped and wider than the Billie. View A features long sleeves with cuffs and falls to the mid hip with a lower ribbing band while View B hits at the high hip and has short sleeves. You can also mix and match sleeve and body lengths to create multiple versions of this sweatshirt.

Megan Neilsen Jarrah Sweatshirt

This is a super versatile pattern with lots of design variations. It’s basic shape is a relaxed, loose fit with a drop shoulder where you see the seam sitting in the upper arm region. View A is the classic sweater style with cuffs and a hemband.

Options for neckbands, sleeve cuffs and hem bands

When it comes to adding the neckband, sleeve cuffs and hem bands onto jumper/ sweater garments there are 3 options which are listed below.

1. Use tubular ribbing fabric

This special fabric is super stretchy and gets made on a special machine that generates a tube of fabric. It’s typically pretty narrow and we sell off the bolt by the 10cm, same way we sell all of our fabrics.

If the pattern you are using has been designed to use cuffing or ribbing for the neckband, cuffs and hem band then you won’t need to alter the pattern pieces at all, as this fabric will easily stretch over your head.

You should pre-wash the ribbing fabric along with your main fabric like normal prior to cutting out and constructing your garment.

Some have a tighter narrower rib like the yellowish one pictured left.

We have quite a large selection of different colours of this type now. It's nice and stretchy with good recovery.

There are a few different types, some have more of a defined rib texture, like the cream one pictured to the right.

Both can be used in the same way and have the same super stretchy properties, they just differ in their visual appearance. At the time of writing we have the textured rib available in the shop and coming soon is a large colour range of the tighter rib fabric.

2. Use the same fabric as the main fabric

Pictured left is the Tilly and the Buttons Billie Sweatshirt and the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt below.

This is a great option if you are finding it hard to find a matching or coordinating ribbing or cuffing for your fabric. However, depending on the pattern you are using and the amount of stretch your fabric has, it’s likely that you are going to have to alter the pattern slightly to use this method.

It may be that you need to extend the length of the pattern piece - check out my video specifically on jersey neckbands for two methods of how to do this.

It may be that you have to alter the shape of the neckline opening if its a high crew neck style. I cover that in my Top Tips video for sewing the Tilly and the Buttons Billie sweatshirt that can be purchased here.

3. Use cuffing

Pictured left is the Megan Neilsen Jarrah Sweatshirt.

Cuffing is a super stretchy band and we sell it on cards that are approx 1.35m long and about 7cm wide. We stock a wide range of different colours and designs from classic plains, to glitter details and colourful stripes. If the pattern you are using has been designed to use cuffing or ribbing for the neckband, cuffs and hem band then you won’t need to alter the pattern pieces at all, as this fabric will easily stretch over your head.

One long edge is a finished edge that will become the edge of your garment and the other long edge has a slightly thicker rolled appearance. This is effectively the ‘raw’ edge and the one that will be sewn to your main fabric. The great thing about cuffing is that it doesn’t fray so you can cut and trim it as needed without worrying that it might unravel.

How to use cuffing for a neckband

As the cuffing typically comes in fairly wide (approx 7cm) it’s really too wide to use at this width as a neckband so there are two options:

Method 1 - Trim the cuffing down to the desired width

  • For this method you could use your pattern piece as a guide for trimming the cuffing to the correct width. The width of the pattern piece will be double the width of the finished neckband plus seam allowance. So you can fold the neckband pattern piece in half and then line this up with the finished edge of the cuffing and trim it down.
  • You’ll then join it into the round either with an overlocker or the sewing machine. I suggest to ensure that the seam allowance sits flat and stays within the top finished edge of the band that you top stitch it down.
  • In the below I have stitched it with a regular sewing machine, pressed the seam allowances open and top stitched them down, angling the seam allowance slightly so that it doesn't show from the outside/right side of the fabric.
  • Now it's time to insert it into your garment. So your shoulder seams will be sewn together and you need to have the centre front and back of the garment marked with a notch or pin.
  • To make it easier to fit the neckband in evenly, find find the quarter points of the neckline, so mid way between the centre front and back. Depending on how low the neckline this is it will be somewhere on the front bodice - note that it is NOT the shoulder seam allowance.
  • Using the seam on the neckband as a starting point (which will be positioned at the centre back) mark quarter points on the neckband as well. Handle it lightly here, try not to pull or stretch on it at this stage.
  • Match the quarter points on the neckband and neckline and pin together.
  • You'll then have to gently stretch the neckband (not the main garment) to make it fit and sit flat against the neckline of the bodice. This is normal. Place the pins at 90 degrees to the raw edge to make the pinning more accurate.
  • Sew the neckband on with a stretch stitch on the sewing machine. Follow the seam allowance stated by the instructions you are following. In the example below (which is the Megan Neilsen Jarrah sweatshirt) the seam allowance was 1.5cm/5/8" so I then trimmed it down afterwards.
  • If you have an overlocker you could finish off the seam allowances at this point. This step is optional as the fabric and cuffing won't fray anyway.
  • Press everything flat and then top stitch, using a stretch stitch, around the neckline. Stitch on the main fabric and through the seam allowances underneath.

Method 2 - Fold the cuffing in half and trim down

  • You could use the cuffing in the same way you would use tubular ribbing fabric where you cut out the full width of your pattern piece.
  • You may still have to trim down the cuffing here.
  • Then join it in the round and fold in half with the wrong sides facing.
  • Next fold and press the loop you have made in half with the wrong sides facing and mark the quarter points using the seam as a starting point.
  • Now it's time to insert it into your garment. So your shoulder seams will be sewn together and you need to have the centre front and back of the garment marked with a notch or pin.
  • To make it easier to fit the neckband in evenly, find find the quarter points of the neckline, so mid way between the centre front and back. Depending on how low the neckline this is it will be somewhere on the front bodice - note that it is NOT the shoulder seam allowance.
  • Using the seam on the neckband as a starting point (which will be positioned at the centre back) mark quarter points on the neckband as well. Handle it lightly here, try not to pull or stretch on it at this stage.
  • Match the quarter points on the neckband and neckline and pin together.
  • You'll then have to gently stretch the neckband (not the main garment) to make it fit and sit flat against the neckline of the bodice. This is normal. Place the pins at 90 degrees to the raw edge to make the pinning more accurate.
  • Sew the neckband on with a stretch stitch on the sewing machine. Follow the seam allowance stated by the instructions you are following. In the example below (which is the Megan Neilsen Jarrah sweatshirt) the seam allowance was 1.5cm/5/8" so I then trimmed it down afterwards.
  • If you have an overlocker you could finish off the seam allowances at this point. This step is optional as the fabric and cuffing won't fray anyway.
  • Press everything flat and then top stitch, using a stretch stitch, around the neckline. Stitch on the main fabric and through the seam allowances underneath.

As you can see in my sample here, I folded the cuffing that had stripes woven through it to customise the stripe that was visible on the neckline. I choose to have the gold stripe on show, while the red/coral stripe is on the inside.

How to use cuffing for sleeve cuffs and hem bands

  • Cut the cuffing to the same length as the pattern pieces for the cuffs and hem band. Depending on what pattern you are using the height or width of this pattern piece is likely to be much wider than the cuffing. This is normal and is because that pattern piece has been designed to be used with ribbing fabric or the same fabric as the main garment and would ordinarily be folded in half.
  • As the cuffing has one finished edge, it is already the correct width.
  • Join the cuffing to make a loop. If you use an overlocker to do this, make sure you leave a long thread chain and with a wool needle or bodkin, thread that tail back through the seam stitching to seam off the stitched and to make it look neater from the outside of the garment.
  • If you wanted you could top stitch the seam allowance down as show below. This isn't essential but may help the seam allowance to sit flatter and more hidden on the inside of the garment.
  • You then attach the cuffing to your main fabric in the same way you did for the neckband. Trying to evenly stretch the cuffing to fit into the main fabric.
  • If you used a sewing machine to attach the cuffing on, you could zig zag stitch the seam allowances together, but it’s not essential as the fabric and cuffing won’t fray anyway.

Can you use cuffing for a waistband?

In short I would say no as it’s typically not got enough stretch recovery to work as a waist band on its own. You could use it folded in half to create a channel for elastic, but I think it might feel too bulky like that. It would be better to use either tubular ribbing or use the same fabric as your main garment for a waistband to make a channel for elastic.

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