The Grainline Lark Tee

Part 2 - with tips on jersey neckbands

I love it when you find a sewing pattern that has so many different variations and options and when you can make it again and again and still get something that looks completely different every time. It’s for these reasons that I’ve chosen the Grainline Lark tee as the next garment in our mini summer capsule wardrobe.  Having a versatile top that you can pair with a skirt or trousers, layer under a cardy or blazer or wear on it’s on is a key part to any wardrobe and with 16 different options you’ll be spoiled for choice!

If you missed last weeks post on the Pauline Alice Rosari skirt then you can check it out in this link.

To see the t-shirts in real-life and how the sit and move as well as outfit suggestions, check out my latest You Tube video.

I've also made a video showing 2 different methods for putting in a lovely neat neckband with twin needle top stitching, so if you are looking for some tips - check it out. 

Design and style variations

The Lark tee comes with 4 neck and 4 sleeve options and you can combine any of these to get the design and look that you want. Choose from a cap, short, ¾ or full-length sleeve, and for the neckline choose between a crew, scoop, boat or v-neck.

I’ve made 3 different versions so that you can see the difference between them.

From left to right: short sleeve with V-neck, cap sleeve with scoop neck and ¾ sleeve with boat neck. 

The fit is described as ‘slim’ and it does have shaping though the waist and hips but it is not fitted and doesn’t have negative ease built in – meaning the finished garment will be a little big bigger than your own actual body measurements.

This would be fairly straightforward to change though. If you did want it to be a bit more fitted or sculpting, I’d suggest still choosing your size according to your measurements to ensure that it fitted over the bust and shoulders, and then trying the top on inside out. You can then pin it in at the side seams to make it more fitted and re-sew the seam.  In this picture I’ve just pulled it a bit tighter at the back to show you what it would look like in a different style.

Fabric choices and notions needed

As this pattern is designed for stretchy jersey fabric, it’s super comfy to wear.  For my plain versions I’ve used our modal jersey, which is really soft and slinky and for my classic Breton top style version I’ve used our cotton/poly yarn dyed loopback jersey which is also really soft against the skin and it washes beautifully.

I choose these colours which tone nicely with our summer colour palette for this series. 

As the construction of the garment is fairly straight forward the only other thing you need is matching thread, but in our special packs we’ve also included a sewing with jersey starter kit that includes jersey needles, a stretch twin needle and seam tape interfacing.  

We’ve got 3 different styles to choose from that correspond to the versions I've made with 6 different colour options in total for the plain modal one and two colour options for the stripe one. These links below will take you to the listings where you can choose your preferred colour. 

Size and alterations

I made mine in a size 4 and the only adjustment I made was on the length. So each sleeve option is sewn up straight from the pattern.

My favourite is the cap sleeve.

Or if you wanted more upper arm coverage then the short sleeve is a good option.

I also really like the ¾ sleeve, which is a nice option for those chillier UK summer days!

Here is the length of the top (prior to hemming so you could take off 3/4 “ but hopefully this gives you an idea of where it comes too straight from the pattern.

I took off 4”/10cm from the bottom of all my tops, actually a little bit more on the pink version. To work out where I wanted the hem to be I tired it on and marked where the new finished length would be, then added on ¾” for the hem and cut of the excess. Alternatively you could cut out less in the fist place and check the finished length measurements or hold the pattern piece up against your body to work out how much you want to loose.

For my stripy version I made the hem 1.5” to give a deeper hem and I think it works nicely with this weight of fabric.

Nicky, who is a local Birmingham based Image Consultant (find out more about her services in this link) advises that if you have  narrower hips to end them hem there, but for curvier hips, don’t end at the widest point, either bring it above or below. 

The looser fit is great if you have less waist definition. Opt for the V-neck or boat neck if you have larger boobs and the scoop or high round neck for smaller. Sleeve length often comes down to how comfortable you feel about exposing your arms, but the ¾ length is really versatile and flattering.

Sewing with jersey tips

If you are new to sewing with stretchy jersey fabric the fear not – it really isn’t as hard as you would think and you can do it on your normal sewing machine!

  • Always pre-wash your fabric before cutting out your pattern pieces as it’s normal for the fabric to shrink somewhat on the first wash – it won’t usually be more than 5-10%
  • Make sure you are using a jersey needle (a size 80 one is suitable for the fabrics I’ve used here) – these type of needles have a ball point tip which prevents holes or ladders forming in the fabric. A mixed size set of jersey needles is included with all our Lark packs.
  • Switch to a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. It looks like a little lightening bolt on my machine. This will allow your seams to stretch with your garment as you take it on and off and wear it. Alternatively you can use the normal zigzag stitch with a setting of 1.5mm x 2mm
  • You can stabilise the shoulder seams to prevent them from stretching out over time by ironing on a strip of seam tape interfacing. This goes on the wrong side of your fabric, on the back bodice, within the seam allowance but extending over where the seam will be sewn. All our lark packs include a roll of seam tape interfacing that will last for loads of projects!

Jersey neckbands

For a more detailed tutorial on putting in a jersey neckband you can check out my YouTube video.

The pattern instructs you to use a loop method where you sew the neckband strip together to make a loop and then you evenly stretch this around the neckline opening by pinning it in place before sewing it. 

When using this method the seam in the neckband typically will be at the centre back. It can be a bit tricky to get it evenly stretched around the neckline and its quite common and easy to not stretch the neckband enough, which can lead to it sagging out or sort of flopping forward away from the body.

To help minimise this, before you sew the neckband strip to make a loop, hold in place starting from the centre front and gently stretch it round the neckline opening, repositioning your fingers as you go to keep it lined up. You can either stop when you get to the centre back and then just double the length, or continue all the way round, back to the centre front (that's what I've done in the picture). It's likely you will have some excess neckband left over which you can trim off. This will always vary depending on how stretchy the fabric you are working with is. The stretchier it is, the more you will have to stretch the neckband.

Alternatively, you can use the open method. For this you only sew one shoulder seam and keep the neckband as one strip. Fold the neckband in half with wrong sides together and baste the raw edges together with a wide zigzag stitch

To sew the neckband onto the garment, have the garment right side facing up. Start at one shoulder seam edge and overhang the neckband slightly. Secure it with a backstitch and then stretch the neckband as you sew it to the garment, taking it small sections at a time.

I recommend using your right hand to hold the neckband at 90 degrees to the machine so you can keep it on an even stretch, while using your left hand to move the main garment round so that the curved edge of the neckline matches up to the raw edge of the neckband.

Continue all the way round until you reach the other shoulder seam edge. 

Now trim the neckband and sew the second shoulder seam, sewing the neckband at the same time. This will mean that the seam of the neckband is at the shoulder, not at the centre back like in the loop method. You can then sew a small line of stitching to hold the seam allowance flat.

Twin needle and triple straight stretch stitch

To give your garments a really professional finish when you are working with a regular sewing machine, you can use a twin needle to create two lines of parallel stitching to sew the hem and to keep the seam allowances at the neckband flat and neat. It’s really easy to set up. You have two spools of thread on the top of the machine and your normal bobbin in the bottom. The bobbin thread zigzags between the two top threads on the back of the fabric, which allows the stitching to stretch with the fabric. Check out my YouTube video to see how. All our lark packs also have a twin needle included.

Alternatively, if your machine has it you can use a triple straight stretch stitch. The button for it looks like this on my machine. The way the stitches are formed means it goes over each stitch 3 times. This means the line of stitching can stretch – which is what you need for jersey fabric.

That’s what I used on the neckline and hem for my Breton style top.

Style options

I love all these versions of the Lark but my favourite has to be the Breton style one.  It goes great with these ginger jeans (find out more about them in the final post of this series).

As well as my Rosari skirt.

My capped sleeve pink version is really versatile and looks lovely tucked in or left out of the rosari skirt. 

The v-neck version is great if you have larger boobs (unlike me) as the shape of the neckline is more flattering for that shape. Having said that, the more I wear this version the more I like it, the colour is gorgeous! 

Thanks so much for saying with me to the end of this post guys! I really hope you've found it useful and inspiring! 

Next week I'll be featuring the Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt and shirtdress so see you then! 

More posts

Summer Capsule Wardrobe series - 2017

The Pauline Alice Rosari Skirt

Part 1 - Top Stitching tips and button hole placement

Sewing projects

Dressmaking projects for Autumn/Winter

with warm cosy fabric