quarter marking knit neckband and t-shirt neckline

4 pro ways to sew a t-shirt neckline

Sewing a clean t-shirt neckline can be the start of getting your handmade knit garments to have a finish you can be proud of.

Now, you could master the classic knit neckband which is a worthy goal. But there’s so many more ways to sew a t-shirt neckline! Refashioning has taught me a lot about how ready-to-wear deals with binding knit edges. What I’ve learned is that no one does one thing all the time.

And since I’m all about giving you options so that you can add your own flair, let me show you 4 ways to sew a t-shirt neckline.

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Finish a knit neckline with a knit neckband

Start here for sewing your knit necklines if you’re new to sewing with knits. If you ever measure it, a neckband needs to be shorter than the neckline. That’s because the inside of the circle is shorter than the outside. But that means you have to stretch the neckband to fit inside the larger neckline. This method is fantastic for helping you stretch a neckband evenly around a neckband. So how to do this…

Measuring your neckband?

First, measure your neckline. Take a tape measure and measure along the seamline of the neckline all the way around. The general wisdom is to subtract 10% from that number. So say your neckline measures 60cm. 10% of 60 is 6, so your neckband needs to be 54 cm. It could be that you need to subtract more–up to 15%, but start with the 10%. And if measuring freaks you out, assume that the pattern piece for your neckband is correct (it probably is).

Prepping to sew the neckband

Press the neckband in half long ways. Unfold the neckband and sew the short ends right sides together with the seam allowance called for in your pattern.

marking t-shirt center back and center front
quarter marking knit neckband and t-shirt neckline

Next, quarter your neckline and the neckband. On the t-shirt, fold the shoulder seams together to find center back and center front. Mark both with a pin. Then fold the pins together to find the other quarter marks. Do the same for the neckband, using the seam as your center back.

Matching the quarter marks and sewing

pinning neckband to t-shirt

Match your pins together starting at center back, pinning the neck band and t-shirt together only at the quarter marks.

serged neck seam on t-shirt neckline

Sewing with the neckband on top, sew the neckband to the t-shirt. You will have to stretch the neckband between the pins so that it fits into the curve of the t-shirt neckline. Do NOT stretch the t-shirt neckline!

topstitched t-shirt neckline with neckband

I did this one on my serger, but of course, you can use your sewing machine with a narrow zigzag. From there, press the neckline seam towards the body of the t-shirt. You can stop here or stitch the neckline down with a narrow zigzag, a twin needle or a coverstitch. The extra topstitch keeps the seam nice and flat and less irritating on your neck.

Clean finish binding for knit necklines

quarter marking knit neckband and t-shirt neckline
note I pieced the binding because I totally used the darker blue for something else! #designfeature

Follow the steps for the neckband, quartering the neckband and t-shirt. Stitch the neckband to the t-shirt, stretching between your quarter marks just like before.

The difference here is instead of leaving the neck seam exposed on the inside of the shirt, we’re going to press the whole neckband to the inside.

I like to hand baste the binding into place, but feel free to pin. Sew down the neckband into place from the right side close to that pressed edge of the neckband.

coverstitched knit neckline clean finish

Onto the lazy person’s knit neckline binding method!

next page graphic with spool of thread

4 thoughts on “4 pro ways to sew a t-shirt neckline”

  1. Elizabeth this was a fabulous tutorial! I’ve bookmarked it and written in my sewing book to look it up next time I’m doing a knit neck band – my favourite that you mention here is especially the “hidden” neckband and basting it on first. I like this! It’s less casual and sporty 🙂 Thank you always for putting such helpful sewing tutorials online both in print and on your youtube channel.

  2. Hi, I’ve noticed you use a straight stitch to topstitch the donut shirt. Does this tend to hold up okay? I’ve been topstitching with zigzag, my machine doesn’t get along with twin needles and I’m just curious as to whether the stitches would pop through! Thanks

    1. It’s not a straight stitch–it’s made with a coverstitch. On the right side it looks like a straight stitch, but a coverstitch machine builds in recovery so that when the stitches get stretched they will not pop. A regular straight stitch on a sewing machine will pop. If you want a similar look, a narrow zigzag is the best option. Set your width on the zigzag down to 0.5 mm and the length at 2.5-3.0mm. This almost looks like a straight stitch, but that tiny bit of zigzag builds in the recovery you need to keep the stitches from popping.

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