How To Sew A Sweatshirt

Are you ready to learn how to sew a sweatshirt? Make sure you have cut all of the pattern pieces we drafted for your DIY Sweatshirt. If you haven’t done that yet, you can download our free instruction booklet.

We are sewing our Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt on our trusty overlocker. If you need some help on how to use your overlocker then we recommend you check out our Guide to Overlockers class. Understanding this amazing machine can make a huge difference to your sewing!

Rachel in her Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt

You can also sew your sweatshirt on a standard sewing machine if you don’t have an overlocker, simply use a stretch or jersey needle and the stretch stitch on your machine (it looks like a narrow, slanted zig zag stitch)

Seam allowance throughout will be 5/8″

Check you have everything you need to start

Follow along with the previous blog post to make sure you have all your pieces cut. You should have 1 x front, 1 x back, 2 x sleeves, 1 x neckband, 1 (or 2) x hem bands and 2 x cuffs. Once you have everything ready, including your machine threaded, then we can start your DIY Sweatshirt.

This gorgeous striped French Terry fabric and cuffing was bought from MyFabrics. You can check it out here MyFabrics

Top Tip – It is always advisable to test your stitches when starting a new make. Grab a piece of your scrap fabric and run it through your overlocker or sewing machine. Make sure your stitches are good and change the settings if required.

Let’s sew the bands

Sew the bands – DIY Sweatshirt

We are going to start by sewing the bands. Each band will be sewn on the short edge with the right sides together to create a loop. If you have two bands for your hem band, then sew both pieces together on the short ends to create your loop. You can see our sewn examples in the picture above. Once sewn, set aside for now.

Seam allowance throughout will be 5/8″

Sew the shoulder seams

Sewing your shoulder seams – How to sew your Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt

Lay out the front and back of your Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt so that they are right sides together and your shoulder seams match. Our next step is to sew the shoulder seams, so pop some pins in to keep the pieces together.

Top Tip – Sew from the neck to the shoulder on both sides. This helps to keep the neckline accurate, if there is any movement in the fabric it moves towards the arm which can easily be trimmed.

Attaching the sleeves

The next step is to sew the sleeves in place while the garment is still open. Both sleeves are identical, so it doesn’t make any difference which side they are attached to.

Start by opening out your front/back piece, so that it is right sides up. Take one of the sleeves and lay the wide end against the shoulder of the DIY Sweatshirt, right sides together. Pin the middle of the sleeve to the shoulder seam, followed by pinning both of the ends in place at the end of the arm scythe. The curve of the arm scythe is only slight but you should be able to find it easily to match the end of the sleeve.

Top Tip – Pinning the pattern piece in place like this means that you can equal out the remaining fabric evenly across the opening. Also, it makes it so much easier to keep it in place and save you from getting confused.

Continue to pin across the sleeve. There should be very little ease that has to happen as the sleeve and the arm opening are a close match. Simply sew in place using a 5/8″ seam allowance and repeat with the other side. Stretch your fabric as you sew if needed to avoid any pinches.

Sew the sleeve & side seam

Once you have both of your sleeves attached, it’s time to sew the side seams together. For this diy sweatshirt we will sew from the end of the sleeve, down to the underarm, turn and sew down to the hem. This will be sewn in one continuous line of stitching. Make sure that you do a slight change in direction when you get the under arm seam. Repeat with the other side until both arms and sides of your sweatshirt are sewn together.

Top Tip – Stop when you reach the underarm seam. Place the needle down into the fabric and lift your presser foot to readjust your position and continue to sew to the hem.

A little stripe error!!!

As you can see in the picture below, I made a little error when cutting the front and back pieces for the sweatshirt!

I have to admit that I was concentrating so hard on getting the right shot for the blog that I didn’t notice that I turned the fabric for the front piece. Unfortunately this meant that my stripes didn’t match on the front and back as the stripe pattern didn’t run both ways.

Now for me, this isn’t the end of the world! I had no left over fabric to cut the front again but I still love this sweatshirt! It really doesn’t matter that the stripes don’t match and I am happy to live with it. We all make mistakes sometimes and dressmaking should be about fun and learning and not stressing about small mistakes. Apologies my mismatched stripes upset you!

Preparing for your hem band

Mark the front and back of your sweatshirt

Next we are going to attach the hem band. This is by far the easiest band to attach and we often start with it to get us into the swing of sewing bands before we get to the trickier neckband.

We firstly need mark the Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt so that we can evenly attach the band. There are already two side seams you can use as markings, folding these together will allow you to find the middle of the front and the back. You can see this in the picture above. Use pins or a fabric marking pen to make your marks.

Preparing your hem band

Fold & pin your band into a tube

Moving onto the band itself, fold the tube of fabric in half wrong sides together and right sides out. You can see we have done this in the picture above. Now we want to pop some pins in to mark the band just like we did with the sweatshirt, on the side seams and mid point of the front and back. Once all of your pins or markings are in place we need to match them up with the markings on the sweatshirt itself.

Line up your side seams – DIY Sweatshirt

Place the band over the bottom hem edge of the sweatshirt (right sides together), with all the raw edges matching. Start by matching up both of the side seams. Pinning both band layers to the sweatshirt, so you have three layers of fabric all together. Repeat this with the mid points marked on the front and back.

Top Tip – Before you put any more pins in place, double check that your band isn’t twisted.

Once you have your band pinned at the front, back and sides, we are going to pin between the pins. As you can see in the pictures above, the sweatshirt is larger at the hem than the band. This is intentional, as we want the band to pull in the bottom of the sweatshirt.

To pin between the pins, bring any two pins that are next to each other together. This will fold the band and the sweatshirt fabric between the pins in half. You can then pop a pin in to the fold on both the band and the hem. Bring these two pins together and pin to each other. Go around the hem and repeat this until all of the sections have been divided by pins again. This helps to even out any excess that you have in the Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt.

If you still feel that you need to add extra pins to the band & sweatshirt, then use this folding method again to add more pins as required.

Sewing the hem band

Start at one of the side seams and sew all around the bottom of the hem at 5/8″ seam allowance until you sew back to where you started. You will need to stretch the hem and band between the pins to make sure that everything matches. You can do this both on the overlocker and on your sewing machine.

Top Tip – If you are struggling with stretching the fabric, grab the fabric from the back (behind the needles on your machine) as well as from the front. This stops the fabric from just being stretched from the needle and causing it to slip or stitch in one place. Only stretch from one pin to the next, working around the DIY Sweatshirt in sections. Don’t remove your pins until you need to.

Sewing the cuffs

Prepare your cuffs – Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt

We will be repeating the basics of the band process on both the cuffs and the neckband. The principle is just the same, we mark or pin each band into 1/4 segments and do the same on the fabric. Then matching up the markings and seams as we did on the hem band. Match up the raw edges again as before.

Section the cuffs for your Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt

The cuffs on your Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt are trickier but only because they are so much smaller than the other bands. Stretch between the pins as we did before and just concentrate on sewing a little bit at a time.

If you are using a cuffing fabric rather than your main sweatshirt fabric, this often doesn’t stretch as much as a sweatshirt jersey would. In this case it is perfectly ok to put in the odd pinch of fabric in as you sew the two together. The pinches will just show as gathers on the fabric as we are bringing a much larger cuff into a much smaller band. If you can, still try to even out the fabric throughout the cuff by working from one pin to the next.

Sewing on your bands – DIY Sweatshirt

Top Tip – Try not to remove any pins before you sew up to them, this can cause too much fabric to be released and you can lose the careful sectioning that we have done.

Sewing the neckband

Once again, the process is the same as before. The only difference with the neckband is how to find the markings on the garment. The front of the neck is a different depth to the back, so your shoulder seams are not in the halfway position.

Prepare your neckband

To find the middle of your front and back, bring the shoulder seams together. Mark or pin the middle of front and back.

Next bring these markings together and this will enable you to find the mid marks for the shoulders, you should find that this mark is just below the shoulder seam on the front of your DIY Sweatshirt.

Now take your marked band and match it up to the neckline. You should start with matching the seam on the band to the marking on the back. Again make sure you match up all the markings and repeat the process used on the hem band for adding extra pins.

Sewing the neckband can be the trickiest as it is the most visible band when wearing your DIY Sweatshirt. You want to get it right!

We recommend that you start with simply just attaching it to the neckline. If using an overlocker then sew without removing very much fabric with the cutter, right on the edge if you can (or turn off your cutter). Alternatively, on a sewing machine you can sew with a basting stitch at a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure to match up all of the raw edges as you sew around, the neckline is curved and you don’t want to miss any of it. Take it slowly, from pin to pin. As before, don’t remove a pin until you need to.

Once the band is attached and all your pins are removed, you can sew it again at the 5/8″ seam allowance (engage your cutter again). Again take it slowly and keep an eye on your seam allowance as you travel round the neckline.

Sewing the neckband

Top Tip – You can use this method with all of the bands if its easier to baste sew in place and then resew at the seam allowance

And your finished!

Well done! That is your Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt finished! If this is your first DIY Sweatshirt we hope that it has been a nice experience for you.

We would love to see your finished Stitch Sisters Sweatshirts, so do make sure you send us pics or tag us on social media.

Nikki in her finished Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt
Rachel’s Stitch Sisters Sweatshirt

Want to make a matching set? Check back for our How To Cut Sweat Pants and How To Sew Sweat Pants blogs – coming soon!

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