When sewing there will be parts of the garment that are on the bias and because of this these parts stretch easily. V-necklines are particularly prone to stretching. Lots of handling of the garment, including trying it on half way through will also increase the risk of stretching parts of it - there's nothing worse that a saggy neckline or pattern pieces that don't fit together.
So what can you do to minimise this?
1. Stay Stitching
Stay stitching is often the first step on pattern instructions and it can be tempting to skip this to get to the 'real' sewing part. Depending on the type of fabric and neckline shape it's also the step you'll wish you didn't skip:)
Here's how to stay stitch:
- Make this the first thing you do
- Stitch single layer
- Stitch 3mm from the stitching line (within the seam allowance)
- Use a smaller stitch length -1.5-2mm
- Stitch towards the centre
When stay stitching the direction that you stitch in is important. This is because the aim is to keep the garment in exactly the same shape as when you cut it out. The image above shows you the direction to follow.
2. Use strips of interfacing, stay tape or selvedge strips.
If you have a particularly difficult fabric or an area that must not stretch at all then in addition to stay stitching a strip of interfacing works really well to keep the garment in shape. You can stay stitch over the top of this. Stay tape is a great alternative to strips of interfacing, but they both work very similarly.
Using selvedge strips can be a good alternative to interfacing strips. You just need to make sure that they don't make seam allowances too bulky. In the image above you can see a v-neckline with a selvedge edge to keep things in shape.
I always like to add an interfaced strip to the area where I will be inserting a zipper. This makes sure that both sides remain exactly the same length.
3. Treat your garment with tender loving care:)
My sewing teacher used to tell me to carry my projects like they were a baby. Definitely do this. Don't allow garments to hang off the sewing machine whilst sewing, or the ironing board, all of this increases the chances of stretching. If you need to try your garment on to fit it correctly make sure you have stay stitched and added interfacing where needed before doing so.