It seems like tissue knits are everywhere lately, and with good reason, they're amazing for summer layering. They make a nice light layer for cool evenings or, if you're in Chicago like I am, all these cool days we're having lately. Tissue knits can be a bit intimidating, they're so thin, wispy, and roll like crazy, so I'm here to show you how I work with them.
I was lucky enough to be able to make two tees in this amazing Japanese tissue knit, the first I went with these classic tomato and cream stripes and in the second I did a bit of color-blocking with this amazing neon yellow and charcoal grey. These knits are so light and airy, I couldn't believe it. Serious dream town. In this tutorial I'm using my Hemlock Tee pattern which I created just for these tissue knits. You can download the pattern for free here at Grainline Studios.
Step 01 | Print and assemble your pattern. Decide where you want to your color split to be and mark. Cut along these lines and be sure to add seam allowance to your new seam line! If you're not making a color-blocked version of this tee, ignore this first step.
Step 02 | Tissue knits can be a bit of a pain to cut and work with because they roll pretty heavily. I like to use a rotary cutter to cut my pieces. Lay your fabric out on top of your rotary mat and trace around the pattern with the rotary wheel.
Step 03 | Align the tops and bottoms of the pieces you cut apart to color-block and serge the pieces together. Press seam down. Again, if you're doing a one color version of this top, ignore this step.
Tip | Make sure that you loosen the tension on your serger when working with tissue knits to keep the seam nice and flat.
Step 04 | Serge shoulder seams and press towards back of garment.
Step 05 | Match the center shoulder seam with the center sleeve cap notch and the underarm edges of the sleeve cap with the notches on the side seams. Serge sleeve in place and press seam towards sleeve. Repeat for other sleeve.
Step 06 | Align front and back hems, underarm seams, and cuffs and serge side seams together. Press this seam towards the back of the garment.
Step 07 | Now for the neckband, this is a step that could have you swearing because of how badly tissue knits roll. I'm going to show you what I've found works for me to make the neckline application super painless and quick. For the Hemlock pattern you can make the neckband as wide as you'd like. I did a 1/2" finished neckband on the striped shirt and a 3/4" finished neckband on the color-blocked version.
Cut a piece of the knit along the crosswise grain an inch or two wider than you'll need for your neckband and at least 23" long (the length you'll need for the neckband). If you're going to make a 1/2" neckband for instance, the neckband flat with 3/8" seam allowance would be 1 3/4" wide so if you cut 4" that would be perfect. Fold the strip in half and press the rolled edges down as well as you can.
Step 08 | Head over to your serger and mark a line the width of your finished neckline with seam allowance PLUS an additional 3/8" and run your strip through with the fold at the tape line serging off any additional fabric.
Step 09 | Cut your neckband piece to 23" long.
Step 10 | Unpick an inch or so of each side of the serging and place the two ends together with right sides facing.
Step 11 | Serge the two sides together.
Step 12 | Serge over the opening.
Step 13 | Mark the center front and center back of the neckline and neck band as well as halfway between each of these points.
Step 14 | Line up all 4 points to the edge of the serging you did in the previous steps and place a pin in each one. Don't worry about pinning between the points, since we're serging you don't want a lot of pins in that you could potentially run over with your machine.
Step 15 | Now serge along the neckline cutting off the previous serging to reduce bulk. Stretch the neckband but be sure not to stretch the neckline of the shirt while you go.
Step 16 | Press the neckband down towards the shirt. Optionally you can place a line of stitching with your sewing machine along the neckline to keep this seam in place.
Step 17 | Fold up 1" at the hems and stitch in place with your machine. I like to use a walking foot while stretching just slightly. Tissue knits don't have the recovery of regular knits since they're so thin so if you stretch too much the thread will hold its place rather than contracting with the knit. It can also help to avoid stretching if you reduce pressure on your presser foot.
I hope this helps you want to give tissue knits a try, they're really a lot easier than their reputation would make them seem, and with this assortment of knits who can resist trying. Seriously everywhere I wear these shirts people want to know where I bought them. Yum!