At Long Last- How To Mess Around With a Neckline without Getting Burned

I’ve been working on this post in my head for a little while, it was just a matter of putting crayon to polytrace and photographing and writing coherently about it.  After I released the new and shiny Blank Canvas Tee, I had several emails asking where the scoop neckline went.  The new BCT isn’t an experiment anymore and I use it as the base for hacks so I thought it would be best to go with a simple high neckline.

This is how to play with necklines without making a mess.  It’s just a set of guidelines, once you get your hand in and feel confident, you can do more or less whatever you want for neckline shaping as long as you stay within the “bra-line” and the “point of no return.” I think this is an excellent way to ease into a little light drafting- beginners welcome.

For knit binding, I usually don’t bother measuring my neckline, but cut a long strip of fabric across the stretch 1.5″ (3.8cm) wide and stretch it gently as I sew.

I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post.  I really don’t know what to say except you all blew me away with your kindness, your support, and with how much you were willing to share.  I cried when I woke up the next morning and saw all the messages you left (and next time I’m feeling blue, I’ll go back and re-read).  Shared burdens are the lightest ones to bear.  Thank you.


  1. What a great pictorial tutorial – thank you for taking the time to photo, write and explain. I’m mucking about with T necklines at the minute so your timing couldn’t have been better. Thanks also for your candid sharey post – it’s easy to think that other people have wonderful, perfect lives and that it’s only me who feels this way. Glad you’re out the other side now.

    • No problem, Ruth… I’m happy to.

      Nah, my life is pretty messy.. I don’t think anyone has a perfect life, but it’s easy to think that when you’re looking through screens… :)

  2. You are so loved, Steph. Not just for your generosity, wisdom and sweetness, but for your everythingness. Never forget it!!!!!!! Great post btw, I am getting all intereted in Alabama Chanin style stitchery and knowing how to sashay my way around a knit top is an essential beginning point! xo

  3. Wow Stephanie – this is a fabulous and very useful tutorial. I think it will be something I refer to many times over! Enjoy your weekend in the country. I am sitting looking at the sun set through my big glass door / wall and there is one lonely star shining bright about the sky which is going from an intense darkish blue to a nice lemony colour. The trees are gently swaying and some bats have flown past. Have a blessed and safe Easter xo

  4. Brilliant tutorial. I am gaining confidence now at drafting my own patterns or adapting ones I have so this will be so useful. Have a wonderful weekend…just enjoy relaxing!

    • We do lots of running around in the country until we’re completely worn out, then we just lie by the pool….

      I think for me the biggest hurdle with playing with necklines was I didn’t know I was “allowed” to do it. You definitely are!

  5. Oh this is brilliant… though I’m beginnng to wonder if I really ought to get a curved ruler now. I’m usually pretty good with freehand curves, but recently.. not so much.

    • Sarah – I totally recommend a curved ruler or a French curve – you can get really reasonable ones even from stationery online stores and they make life so much easier….

  6. Pingback: Tutorial: Creating a neckline that doesn’t reveal too much · Sewing |

  7. Great tutorial! I’ve eyeballed neckline changes in the past, and had an “incident”… it’s so smart to know the depth of your “point of no return” (heeheehee). Thanks for sharing!

  8. I just finished up with a “sewing with knits” class and I like your idea for binding. However, a really kewl tip my instructor gave me was taken from swimwear and it will help keep your neckline from stretching out of shape.

    Just use 1/4″ knit elastic sewn about 1/4″ from the neck edge. You’ll get the length of elastic from using your tape measure around the pattern (since the neckline most likely has already distorted from handling!) and sew it evenly around the neck. Voila! you now have a neck opening that will not gape, will lie flat against your skin and will not stretch out of shape no matter how many times you wash the garment!

    • That’s cool, Mary, thanks for telling me… The only thing is, I can’t seem to find any of that elastic here that doesn’t split terribly after a wash or two when it’s been sewn through. It’s worthless. But it does sound like a good tip, thanks!

      • I like this tip too Mary thank you. I wonder if elastic from Pam Emery’s Fashion Sewing Supplies would be a good idea. It is from the other side of the world though …

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have printed it out and will put it in my “sewing hints” folder. I have difficulty with necks and getting them just right. Knowing where and how to measure makes it seem fool-proof. Why didn’t I think of that??

  10. Hi Steph
    this has nothing to do with your current post, but, have you entered your Megan dress into Julia Bobbins Mad Men Challenge. I keep checking and I haven’t seen it appear there yet..

    • Hey heidi–

      I’m sorry to disappoint, I didn’t realize anyone would be looking for it! I don’t like the indoor photos and we didn’t get a chance to take outdoor ones before the deadline so I left it.

      • Hi
        That’s a shame, but I think it is a winner..I also think Julia was looking forward to seeing it too, she commented on one of your posts.. It is a stunning dress!! enjoy your break..

  11. Enjoy your break! Thank you for this amazing tutorial…it’s so kind of you to share your expertise like this. It’s very much appreciated.

  12. Oh this is great and I’m very grateful – all bookmarked, though I think I’ll even print it out too. I’ve never tried doing a facing on a knit but its a really good idea – don’t know why it didn’t occur to me! Hope you had a lovely weekend with lots of lying by the pool time.

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