I will share a few of the secrets I've learned over the years:
- Always re-do the neckline. It can be as simple as cutting out the ribbing, stretching it as far as it will go, and making the new neckline that size (either in the scoopneck-wise or boat-neckwise direction). This always results in a more flattering and modern looking shirt.
- NEW NEEDLES - this is always important, but particularly when sewing old shirts. I've definitely forgotten to change my needles and had my machine literally tear through my project.
- Serger vs. conventional sewing machine: I used to exclusively use the serger on all knits, but with experience I have found the built-in stretch stitch on my Kenmore to be very useful. I now generally baste everything with a straight stretch stitch before heading to the serger - getting pins anywhere near that sucker is always a risky proposition.
- Hemming: I'm still working on the perfect hemline which doesn't require the purchase of a blindstitch machine. The best I've come up with is a two-piece type job. What you do is take a strip of t-shirt twice as wide as the hem you want and twice as long as the t-shirt is wide, plus 1". Sew it in a circle, fold it in half, then serge it to the bottom of the shirt. Press the seam allowance toward the top of the shirt, then topstitch it using a long straight stretch stitch. Maybe I'll try to post a how-to on this with some pictures.
Here are some of my favorites: