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.
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.
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
Match your pins together starting at center back, pinning the neck band and t-shirt together only at the quarter marks.
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!
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
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.
Onto the lazy person’s knit neckline binding method!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.