How to Sew a Neckband – Simple NO Math Tutorial

You’re having a fun time sewing a seriously cute t-shirt or pullover – the pattern’s instructions are easy to follow, the fabric and stitches are working well together, the birds are chirping, everything is going well…until you get to the neckband. You look at the instructions on cutting the neckband and  it’s not making any sense to you. You frantically turn to Google for help and type in “neckband length” and a plethora of formulas show up, but which one? More frustration! 

Has this scenario ever happened to you? I remember when I started sewing simple t-shirts, the neckband was where I would spend the longest time doing because I was seam ripping over and over again. I had either cut the neckband too long so that it looked like a mandarin collar or too short that the neckline looked gathered. I’ve tried many different techniques since design school and this is the one that had stuck with me. It’s taken the guess work out of how the neckband will look once sewn in so it’s saved me time and sanity and hopefully this technique will save yours as well. 

You can also watch the video

Here’s how I do it.

First, sew the shoulder seams together.  Fold the front and back bodice pieces in half matching the shoulder seams and then mark the center front and center back.

Cut out your neckband cross grain. My neckband is 2 1/2” wide and includes a 3/8” seam allowance. Measure your half neckline. My neckline measurement here is 9 1/2” so I’m going to make my neckband an inch smaller. I pin it 8 1/2” for now. We can later add or reduce by 1/2” based on how the neckband looks after it’s pinned to the neckline. 

Pin the center front and center back first overlapping the 3/8” seam line of the neckline and the neckband. Pull the rest of the neckband over the entire neckline and pin at the 3/8” seam line. Once you’re done pinning, you can see how it will look after it’s sewn. If yours is looking loose like mine, just simply reduce the measurement by 1/2”.

My new measurement is now 8” and then I’ll pin it back to the neckline again. You don’t want it to look to loose or too taut. This looks good to me. A good press with a warm iron will make it look pretty neat. 

8” was only half of the neckline so I doubled that measurement and then added 1/2” for the seam allowance so my final measurement was 16 1/2”. 
Fold the neckband in half and sew with a quarter inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open. Then fold the neckband again and press with a warm iron.

Next divide the neckline and the neckband ring into quarters. I like the neckband’s seam to be a little behind the left shoulder seam – I think it makes it look a bit more professional. 

Once that’s done, pin the neckband to the right side of the neckline  matching them at the quarter markings. And then sew them together with a zig zag stitch or one of the other stretch stitches on your machine. I used the G knit stretch stitch.

Before topstitching, I’ll press the neckline’s seam allowance down with a warm iron using a pressing cloth because I don’t want the fleece’s polyester to melt or the iron leaving a weird shiny patch on the fabric. 

Now it’s time to topstitch. I used this straight stretch stitch on my Janome. You can also use a smaller zig zag stitch. 

And that’s it! If you tried this technique, please leave a comment below and let me know if it worked for you or what techniques have you picked up along the way. Please share! 

Sew and be happy!

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    1. Hi Jessica,

      You can also baste the neckband to the neckline with a wide zig zag stitch so you can try it on and see. It’ll be easier to seam rip too if you want to take it in some more.

      Please let me know how it goes and you can always share your pictures on the blog’s Facebook if you need any help or just want to show off your work. 😀

      Happy sewing!


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