You know that euphoric feeling when you find the perfect pdf pattern? It checks all the boxes: fit, price, layers, style, options. Whoa, wait a minute, it doesn’t come with a neckband?! Beginner and advanced sewists alike might feel discouraged at the fact that a simple pattern piece was overlooked. Others might pass right on by, continuing their search for that unicorn pattern. But YOU (yes, you) are going to print that baby out and hack on a neckband because I’m showing you how right now!
The first thing to get out of the way is your hesitation. Yes, I realize hacking a pattern or veering off course from a set list of pieces can be intimidating. Sewing is a creative art, but not every individual who sews is uber creative.
Cue the sweaty palms and shallow breathing.
More of a a visual learner? Check out this video for step-by-step guidance.
How to get through moments of hesitation
Whether this is your very first time working with a pattern or your 100th, I want you to know you CAN do this. Honestly. It is a simple hack. A long, skinny rectangle of fabric with one seam being sewn onto a curve. Break it down and see it for what it is. A quick little 3-step process to get you from hyperventilating to that proud moment when you get to show off your new make. Bonus: you’re learning a skill that will carry you through your entire sewing practice!
Learning to make a neckband for a pattern is a worth-while investment in your tool box. It may be the “bite” you needed to become a hacking machine! Oh, and it works for arm bands on sleeveless tops, too!
One quick warning – you might find yourself buying LESS patterns because you’ve unlocked the key to your pattern-altering abilities!
*I’m using the Aspen tank which is drafted for woven fabrics and bias bound edges, but I’m using knit fabric and adding bands! Get your copy HERE.
Making a neckband pattern piece – Step 1
There’s two ways you can figure out the measurement for your pattern piece. I prefer the second method (and believe it to be more accurate), but either will work just fine.
- Method 1. Measuring on the raw pattern pieces
- Grab your bodice pattern pieces and measure the neckline on each the front and back pieces. If your piece is to be cut on the fold, you’ll need to multiply the measurement by 2. (ex. Measurement is 6” for an on-the-fold back piece, multiply by 2 = 12”. Front measurement is 8” x 2 = 16” circumference)
- Add the front and back measurements together (ex. 16 + 12 = 28”)
- Subtract any seam allowances. You will likely have shoulder seams to contend with and possibly a back seam (or more!). (ex. ¼” SA on each shoulder piece = ½” per shoulder x 2 shoulders = 1”. 28” – 1” = 27”)
- Take that final circumference measurement and multiply it by what I’m going to call the “neckband factor”. In the case of cotton lycra, use 80% (or 0.8). (ex. 27 * 0.8 = 21.6”)
- Finally add in your seam allowance for the neckband itself. (ex. 21.6” + ¼” + ¼” = 22.1”) Round up or down as needed to get to the closest 1/8”
- Method 2. Construct the garment and then measure the neckline
Using a soft measuring tape, measure around the circumference of the neckline of your finished bodice. (ex. 27.5”)
Multiply by the neckband factor (80% = 22”)
Add in your seam allowance (22” + ½” = 22.5”)
*Quick note on “Neckband Factor” – This percentage will vary depending on the stretch of your fabric. Generally speaking, a stretchier fabric will require less length (ex. 75% of circumference of neckline) and a more structured knit will require more length (ex. 85-90%).
As for width, that’s mostly a personal preference. Here’s a little formula for you to use.
Desired reveal (how much you want showing) x 2
SA x 2
I like using 1.5” for a ½” reveal.
Now you can go ahead and quarter the neckband as well as the neckline on your bodice and attach as usual. If you want more of a visual on that, you can check out this video.
And that’s it!
You successfully created a hacked version of that top pattern! Go forth and hack s’more!