Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mommy and Me Raglan SAL, Day 3

Today in our sew along, we are finishing our necklines.

If you are sewing the Riviera Raglan, there are quite a few necklines you can choose from: crewneck, V-neck, hoodie, split neck, or henley. You can choose any option you want for our SAL, but my blog post today focuses on sewing the crew neck option. This is a very common neckline in knit patterns, and I have noticed a lot of questions about it in online sewing groups. All the pictures in the blog post are from the Streamline Tee by New Horizons.

I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here, there are lots of wonderful tutorials out there already on how to achieve a nice banded neckline. I'm hoping to add a few tips I have found helpful. This is just a supplement to either your pattern instructions or to other tutorials you might be following.

First, you need to make sure that the fabric you are using for the neckband has enough stretch (at least 50% for most patterns) and good recovery (meaning it doesn't get stretched out, after being stretched it should bounce back to it's original size.)

When it's time to mark your band and your shirt in quarters, I suggest snipping the fabric to mark the quarter placements. You want the snips to be noticeable as you are sewing, but you do not want to cut into the seam allowance.

Keep in mind, the seam on the neckband does not need snipped, but that will count as one of the quarter markings, so just three snips in the neckband and four snips along the shirt neckline.

Here is a picture of one of the snips on the band, and the snips on the neckline of the shirt. They are circled in red:

I promise those quarter points are even, I didn't notice how lopsided the shirt was laying when I took the picture.

Next, turn the shirt inside out and pin the neckband to the right side of the neckline, on the inside of the shirt, using the snips to match up the quarter points.

This arrow is pointing at the seam of the neckband. Line that up with the center BACK marking.

If you are using your serger, I suggest basting the neckline on before serging the neckline, unless you are confident in your neckline length, your fabric choice and your sewing skills. It is easy to go over the stitch with a serger if you are happy with the neckline.

If you are using your sewing machine, I suggest using a slightly longer than normal stitch to give the neckline some stretch. And by using a longer stitch, it shouldn't be a big deal to seam rip should you need to adjust your neckline. Or you could use an even longer stitch and baste it on first. Up to you. Just keep in mind that this might be a high risk area of seam ripping. Just a warning!

When sewing (or basting) on the neckband, I find it easiest to keep the shirt inside out just like you pinned it earlier. I have the shirt against the feed dogs and I have the neckband on top, sewing on the inside of the circle.

As you sew the neckband on, stretch the neckband to fit, but do not stretch the shirt fabric.

Having the snips to mark the quarter points comes in handy at this point because I can take out the needles and still know where the quarter points are. As I'm sewing, I stretch the neckband to get the snips to line up as shown in this picture here:

As you are sewing on the neckband, make sure you are sewing with the correct seam allowance. I have the tendency to take too small of seam allowance here and it makes the neckband too tall and sometimes the neck opening isn't wide enough. Taking too small or big of a seam allowance can make a big difference in the neckline!


If your neckband is too floppy, that means that the neckband was too long. Or it could mean that the  neckband fabric doesn't have great recovery and was stretched out too much. Shortening the neckband will help, but if it's strictly a fabric issue, keep in mind that you might have better luck with something with better recovery. You can try shortening the neckband first if you really want to make a certain fabric work.

If there are puckers in the shirt, that means the neckband was too short. It could also mean that it wasn't stretched evenly across the quarter points. Either go back and stretch evenly or add length to the neckband. This could also happen if the neckband fabric does not have enough stretch.

Usually a neckband is around 85% smaller than the length of the neckline. If you are calculating your own, that is a good place to start. Of course, different fabrics all have their optimized percent based on their stretch and recovery, but that amount works for a lot of fabrics.

When you are all done, sit back and admire your work.

These get a lot easier with practice! Don't stress if you have become good friends with your seam ripper when sewing on neckbands, they become no big deal with a little practice.

Some people like to topstitch their neckband seam allowance down, but I prefer the look without it. And with a good fitting neckband, I haven't had the need to do it. However, if you want to topstitch yours, I will be talking about double needles on the blog tomorrow and you can do it then if you are fine waiting a day.

We are almost done with our shirts for the sew along. Hemming is the last thing left! Don't forget to post your pictures in the group.

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