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About t-shirts and hemming with coverstitch

Pictures of the finished skirt have to wait. I want to hem my skirt with “steam a seam” tape but forgot to buy it and as most of my fabrics and notions are in storage, I had none available at all. So I spent my weekend sewing two t-shirts. The pattern is the Ann T-top from StyleArc:


I’ve made this pattern several times now and it’s a great basic. After the initial one last year (never blogged about as far as I remember) I removed the gathers in the front by folding up at waist level.

Until recently I used an old Ottobre pattern from 2007 as my base for t-shirts, which is still a great pattern. But, as you can guess, it’s in storage (by accident though).

Black and white top

Blue graphic

The neckline and hems of both t-shirts were finished with a coverstitch.

finished hem

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my Janome coverstitch for quite a long time, but have become used to it and now it’s taken out and used regularly. For a long time I did not use it properly either and on the inside you could see the edge of the hem stick out above the stitches.  Recently I saw a tip about how to make the finishing on the inside neat. Looks good doesn’t it?

inside hem

What I did was

  • Measure and press the hem at an exact distance (a sewing gauge will help)
  • Baste the hem at the very edge of the hem. I preferred hand basting but the tip I saw used long, straight machine stitches. I found those more difficult to remove afterwards when I made a sample.
    basted hem
  • Stitch while guiding your foot over the basted line
  • Carefully remove the basting thread.

I did this both for the hem of the body as for the sleeves and it works like a charm. It might be a bit more work, but the result is much better.


  1. I must try this hemming method with my cover-stitch, the end result looks very neat!
    I've just hemmed my V1465 skirt with steam-a-seam. Works like a charm.

  2. Lovely tops - and well done for persevering with your machine. I got a Janome Coverstitch a year or so ago - and I'm afraid that I don't love it. My sewing machine and serger are like extensions of my hands - but not the Coverstitch. Sigh. I may have to get to know it better as it is a rather expensive 'brick' 😔

  3. Oh, thanks for the tip... I avoid my coverstitch but this is a great tip and as usual one that is so obvious but not until someone tells you!

  4. Good that you found sewing projects - great t-shirts. I remember how hard it was to have all my supplies stored away during the moving process. I hope it doesn't take too long before you can unpack and settle in!

  5. I don't have a coverstitch (on my wish list, though) - but I have used this method for twin needle stitching on my sewing machine. I serge the edge of the hem, then press up and hand baste (I agree, hand basting is easier to remove) then guide the twin needle with the basting in the center. End result really looks like a coverstitch. - Heather

  6. I've had the same issue. I took a serging class with Angela Wolf (it wasn't great and I didn't finish) and she would have you sew below the cut edge and trim afterwards. PITA. I would rather hand baste any day. Very nice tee shirts and I will be using this on my next tee shirt.

  7. Love your tops. Thanks for the tutorial on coverstitch. I have the same machine and have a love/hate relationship with it. I have gotten better with it but like the idea of basting the hem and then stitching with it. Will have to give this a try.

  8. You could even avoid unpicking the basting stitches! If you use a water soluble basting thread. Yes, that does exist!

  9. Good tip. I'm considering purchasing a cover stitch machine because I find my twin needle hems often break after a washes.

  10. I always use a double sided tape (SewKeyes has it in different widths - I'm not connected to SewKeyes at all so have no reason to promote just be clear :) ) and find that works perfectly for hemming with my coverstitch. It presses the hem into position and just following a guide on the side it comes out perfect every time. I mention it because it is much faster if you're crimped for time.


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