Do the Twist

Pattie Otto
Do the Twist


Sew News readers can receive an exclusive discount on #2400 Raglan Tops from Great Copy Patterns. The pattern, regularly priced at $12.50 ppd, is available for a limited time at the special Sew News price of $10 ppd. The pattern is designed for stretch knits and features four different necklines. All views can be made with short, three quarter or long sleeves. The pattern is multi-sized for ladies Ex-Small (bust 34) through Ex-Large (bust 45). To order, send a check or money order to Great Copy Patterns, PO Box 085329, Racine, WI 53408, or order online at by entering promotional code: SN609.

A tiny twist transforms an ordinary neckline into a big fashion statement. Complete the transformation using a fabric-marking pen and a few pins.


  • T-shirt pattern with an open neckline, such as Great Copy #2400 Raglan Tops
  • Knit fabric with at least 25{percent sign} stretch content (see "Stretch Strategies" below), such as interlock, stretch jersey knit or stretch terry in the amount indicated on the pattern envelope
  • Matching all-purpose thread
  • Removable fabric-marking pen or chalk in two different colors
  • Pins

Cutting and Construction

The secret to a perfectly twisted neckline is cutting the correct neck band length.

Determine the amount of stretch in the fabric. See "Stretch Strategies" below.

Cut one front, one back and two sleeves. Mark the center point along the front neckline. Repeat to mark the back neckline-center point.

Following the directions on the pattern guidesheet, stitch the sleeves to the front and back. Leave the side seams unstitched. Press the seam allowances toward the shirt body.

Fold the garment in half on the center front and center back marks (1). Straighten the neck edge. Measure the neck edge from the center front to the center back (2); record. Multiply this number by two. This is your neck edge measurement.

1) 2)

twist 1

If the fabric has 25% stretch, cut a neckband 3"-wide by the neck edge measurement minus 4", with the stretch running the length of the neckband. If the fabric has 50 {percent sign} stretch or more, cut a neckband 3"-wide by the neck edge measurement minus 6", with the stretch running the length of the neckband.

Using a rotary cutter and ruler helps you cut the neckband more accurately.

Add a Twist

Position the neckband right side down on flat work surface. Along one long edge, mark 1" from one short end. Alternating between the two different colors, mark every inch along the entire band length. The alternating colors allow for easier alignment when twisting the neckband. Repeat for the other neckband long edge (3).

With right sides facing, fold the neckband in half and stitch the ends together, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Finger-press the seam allowance open.

When sewing soft stretch knits, the first few stitches often pull the fabric into the sewing machine throat plate, which can cause broken needles and holes in the fabric. To prevent this, position a piece of lightweight tear-away stabilizer under the neckband.

With wrong sides facing, begin pinning the neckband long edges together, matching the colored marks to create a twisted effect (4).

Continue to match every mark until the entire neckband is pinned.

Set the sewing machine to a zigzag stitch with a length and width of 4 mm. To secure the twist, zigzag stitch the neckband raw edges together, removing the pins and being careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew (5).


To mark the neckband center back point, place a pin on the seam. Fold the neckband in half on this mark to find the center front; mark with a pin.

Fold the band in half, matching the center back and center front marks. Mark the folds with pins (6).

Fold the garment neck edge at center front and center back(7). Mark the folds.

Adding the Neckband

With the neckband on the garment right side, match the center back marks; pin in place. Pin the center front marks together. Match the two remaining marks; pin in place (8).

With the neckband side facing up and using 1/4" seam allowance, stitch or serge the neckband to the garment, stretching the neckband to match the neck edge. Try to keep the twists in the band toward the fold and away from the seam by gently pulling the neckband folded edge away from the stitching or serging (9).

Turn the neckband to the right side. Check the neckline for any puckers in the band or neck edge. If you find puckers, remove the stitching from the puckered area and re-stitch.

Gently press the seam allowance toward the body. Finish the top according to the directions on the pattern guidesheet.

Stretch Strategies

Selecting knit fabric with the correct amount of stretch is important for a successful garment. For example, constructing a leotard from a knit with too little stretch will make it difficult to put on. On the other hand, using a Slinky knit fabric for a fitted jacket pattern that calls for a double knit will result in a baggy garment. To help you figure out if a fabric has the correct amount of stretch, many patterns include a guide or gauge.

Sometimes knits are classified by percentage: less than 25%, 25% or 50%. To calculate the amount of stretch your fabric has, fold a crossgrain section of fabric at least 2* from the cut edge. Mark a 4" section with pins (A). Gently stretch the fold along a ruler and observe how the knit reacts (B).

A) B)

If the 4" section stretches to 4 1/2" or less, the knit has less than 25% stretch. Sometimes called "firm knits," fabrics in this category include sweatshirt fleece, double knits and French terry.

If the 4" section stretches easily to 5", the knit has 25% stretch. Many interlocks, stretch terry and ribbed knits fall into this category.

If the 4" section stretches to 6", the fabric has 50% stretch. Ribbed knits, Slinky and most spandex knits have this amount of stretch or more.

Don't over-stretch the fabric. When the fabric is relaxed, it should go back to its original shape. If the fabric doesn't retain its shape, it's been stretched too much. Try again with a different section of fabric.

Thin is In

This narrow twist variation is designed especially for lightweight lycra knits with at least 50% stretch.

Follow the directions above to measure the garment neck edge. Cut the neckband 2" wide by the neck measurement minus 6" for 50% stretch fabric or minus 7" for fabric with more than 50% stretch.

Position the neckband right side down on a flat work surface. Along one long edge, mark 1" from one short end. Mark every inch for the entire band length. On the other neckband long edge, mark 1/2" from the short end. Mark every inch the entire band length (C).

With right sides facing, fold the band in half and stitch using 1/4" seam allowance. Finger-press the seam allowance open.

With wrong sides facing and matching the long edges, fold and pin the neckband, pairing the colors as above. Twisting the narrower band is more challenging. To prevent the fold from being pulled into the seam allowance, begin by folding the band over a short pencil or dowel and pin the marks together (D).

Mark the neck edge and neckband as shown on page 00; pin in place.

Stitch the band in place.

For more control when applying the neckband to the neck edge, stitch the narrower band in place with a conventional sewing machine first. Check for puckers. Finish the seam allowances by serging.



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