Stretch & Sew Neckband Tutorial
Today I’m going to show you my favorite way to attach a neckband to a garment. This is meant for stretch fabrics like jersey and french terry. The most common method is to divide the neckband in four, divide the neckline in four, match them up and then stretch the neckband while you sew. I also used this method in my Zircon instructions because it’s the one people are most familiar with. For this method the pattern designer provides a pattern piece for the neckband that is the right length, with a 10% or 15% stretch calculated in the pattern.
My problem with this method is that that pattern piece will only work with fabrics with exactly that amount of stretch. Knit fabrics can vary a lot in stretch percentage, and you would have to re-calculate to make the neckband fit perfectly. Another problem is that in areas with a sharper curve (like the shoulders), you need to apply more stretch than others. My method requires some practice but once you got it, you can use it on any fabric with any stretch percentage without involving maths.
What You Need
- Your front and back pattern pieces, sewn together at the shoulders
- A neckband strip that is about 2″ (5 cm) longer than the pattern piece provided
Step 1: Prepare Neckband
Fold the neckband in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press.
Step 2: Mark Neckline
Mark the center back (CB) of the neckline with a pin. Pin the neckband 1″ away from the CB pin, the raw edges lining up with the neckline. Leave 1″ of tail hanging past the CB pin.
Step 3: Stretch & Sew
Slide the garment under the needle and position the needle above the second pin (not at the CB). Put the needle down. Pull the neckband slightly and push it down on the neckline again, holding it in place with your fingers. Sew the neckband to the neckline until you reach your finger. Put the needle down again, and repeat the stretching, until you get into 1″ of the CB pin. Backstitch.
Step 4: Close Neckband
Match the short ends of the neckband at the right distance. You will still want a little stretch in those last 2″ (5 cm), so make sure they are just a bit shorter than the neckline. Pin and sew the short ends together. Trim the seam allowance and press open.
Fold the neckband in half again and pin to the neckline. Sew the last 2″ (5 cm), slightly stretching while you stitch.
Step 5: Press and trim
Press the neckband up and away from the bodice. Trim the seam allowance so it doesn’t want to push up anymore. If you want you can topstitch around the neckline to secure the neckband. I only do this with busy fabrics so the neckband will lay flat. For jersey it’s usually not necessary, and it can sometimes even take the stretch out of the neckline or produce wobbles.
That’s it! This method even works with fabrics with little stretch, as long as the neckline isn’t too deep and you keep the neckband narrow.
Now, the catch with this method is that it takes practice. It will very likely not produce a nice neckband the first time you try it. You need to try it more often to learn how to guess how much you should stretch exactly. But once you know this, no neckband will scare you. When I make a neckband, I know I can rely on my skills and it will work out. I don’t have to just cross my fingers that the pattern piece provided will work with my fabric. And I can regulate the amount of stretch in the areas that need more or less of it. The back neckline needs less than the shoulders and the deepest point on the front, for instance. I hope you’ll try it too!