Hello all! This is Courtney from Sweeter Than Cupcakes, and I’m here to share my spin on February’s “What’s Underneath” sewing theme. In the process of taking what is normally underneath, in this case my seams, to the outside, I’ve created my favorite workout shirt. The combination of the Rivage Raglan (affiliate link), performance fabric, and flatlock seams kicks this style into the fashionable but highly functional category. Let me walk you through my process of selecting a size and what makes the flatlock seam so special in athletic wear.
For the last couple of Blank Slate patterns I’ve sewn, Shoreline Boatneck, Shoreline again, and Valetta, I’ve fallen in the Medium size range. However, four important factors lead me to sew a size small for this Rivage Raglan.
First, I’ve lost a minuscule amount of weight. Actually the number on the scale hasn’t really changed, but my body shape has changed slightly. A good reminder to measure yourself often! Second, and more importantly, I would be wearing a sports bra with this top instead of my usual lightly padded bra. These things make a difference folks! Third, my fabric has significant stretch and recovery. Finally, form fitting athletic wear stays out of the way when I am in motion. Each of these factors is good to keep in mind for different types of projects.
One thing that sets the Rivage apart for athletic wear is the extra coverage in back!
The monthly sewing theme initiated my thinking about bringing seams to the right side of the fabric, but the benefit reaches even further. Flatlocked seams result in no raised seams on the inside of my garment. That means no rubbing or chaffing with the increased movement of exercise. Visually, the dark contrast of the seams adds an interesting detail. Now that I’ve played with this contrast, won’t it be fun to incorporate a pop of color?!? The underside of the stitch is just as interesting, so take the opportunity to experiment with the decorative options.
Now that we know flatlock construction can be functional as well as decorative, let’s explore how we accomplish the stitch. Flatlock stitching requires a serger that is set up for three thread stitching. I removed my right needle. After stitching, as you pull the fabrics apart, the seam lies flat! To illustrate the stitches, I’ve used white thread in my left needle, red thread in my upper looper, and blue thread in my lower looper (which hardly shows in this stitch). Using MaxiLock stretch thread or Wooly Nylon in the upper looper, as I’ve done here, gives a full look to the stitch. The key is to remember to place the fabric wrong sides together. I literally had a chant going in my head as I sewed to keep reminding myself! In the photo above, the left sample is the stitch with fabric wrong sides together. The center sample is with the fabric unfolded, and the right sample is after pulling the fabric apart with a gentle tug.
The result is a flat seam! With my Brother 1034D serger, I used tension settings of 1.0 for the needle, 4.5 for the Upper Looper, and 7.2 for the Lower Looper. The differential feed was set at 1.0, stitch length at 3.0, and stitch width at 5.0. Play around with your setting to get the finish as flat as possible.
Hemming is also an option with a flatlock stitch, but the folding is a bit different. First, fold the hem to the right side of the fabric. Then, fold the hem back on itself.
The left side shows the hem stitched along the edge. The right side shows the hem pulled down to flatten the stitching. With the three layers of fabric, I ended up with a bit of a raised seam on the outside, but still flat on the inside.
Again, each side is a unique finish, so folding in the opposite direction gives a different look. Keep in mind, the wrong side of the fabric will show at the bottom of your hem unless you have the ladder stitch on the right side.
Will you give flatlock seams a try?