Knit Neck Band Tutorial.
Posted: Apr 18 2017
My favourite go to method of finishing a knit Neck Band. This can be added to a woven body as just the Neck Band needs to be a knit to finish a neck or armhole. You can use it as a speedier alternative to binding.
Firstly what kind of knits?
I alway prefer "natural" fibres, Wool, Cotton and Silk or half way fibres like Viscose, Modal, Cupro and Rayon. These fabrics are Vegetable based but very processed.
Petroleum based fabrics do not always like to play by the rules they generally want to return their original shape and can be difficult to work with. Nylon, polyester etc.
Lycra blends are do-able but with high levels of lycra more than 5% the fabric will want to retract. This will work against what we are trying to achieve. Smaller amounts of Lycra, especially in very light fibres, with little natural memory, will balance out the texture and give support to your neck band.
Fabric Knit Structure:
Plain knit jersey is great. If you are making a tee in the same fabric.
Rib knit is the premium for this method but is generally hard to come by in a matching colour and weight. Rib can come as a fabric on a roll or a trim with a finished edge. The benefit of ribbing is that the structure is essentially a concertina, so like a fan, it is easier to shape into a curve.
Super Thick Fleece will require some patience and give you some chunky seams to sew through so this might be a weight to work up to. Or alternatively find a contrast rib to work with.
The goal with a Neck Band is to turn a straight piece of knitted fabric and shape it into a curved piece without gathering the body or having a saggy neckline.
The width of your finished Neck Band will be limited by what type of knit you are using. As a general rule, a finished width of 1.25 -1.5 cm for flat knits and up to 5 cm for ribbing. You can experiment with a cut and folded, Neck Band and see how curved you can press it.
How long to cut my neck band??
I would love to tell you to cut it the same at your neckline seam, minus 15 - 25% but in my experience it was a sure-fire way to get manufacturers to yell obscenities at me. There are way too many variables effecting how stretchy a Neck Band will be to have a basic rule for all fabrics.
So here is the slightly more complex but way more reliable way of getting a tidy Neck Band measurement.
1. Cut your Neck Band, with the greater stretch going along the length of the fabric.
Cut it to = Length of your neck seam line x double your finished width + seam allowances.
*If your fabric is very curly at the edges, cut it wider than needed.
3. Measuring from folded edge the correct width and trim to make a clean edge. Using scissors is fine.
4. Fold in half to find Centre Front Neck and pin.
5. With shoulder seams pre-sewn (but side seam left open). Fold garment in half along Centre Front and Centre Back.
6. You can chalk or do this step by eye.
Mark line around neck line = 2 x seam allowances, in from raw edge.
e.g. 2 cm for a 1 cm seam allowance.
7. Open Centre Front Fold of Neck Band.
8. Place pinned Centre Front, Neck Band to CF of neckline. With the raw edge of Neck Band lining up to previously marked line. e.g. Overlapping seam allowances.
9. Stretch the Neck Band raw edge, following Neck Line and curving Neck Band.
10. Mark any key points on Neck Band. Shoulder Seam and Centre Back Neck. If the neck line is large add extra notches to Neck Line and Neck Band. To kept a check on the distribution of stretch.
*How much to stretch depends on each fabric used. As a guide I try and keep the inner, folded, edge of the Neck Band sitting smoothly whilst trying to make a circular shape. Your Neck Bands raw edges might roll back and warp but as long as the folded edge remains unstressed.
11. Translate marking into little notches on both side of Neck band.
12. Unfold Neck Band, sew in CB seam with a longer stitch not quite a baste and no back stitching. Incase you need to remove and try again.
13. Trim off excess leaving approx 2 cm seam allowance.
* Keep what you have trimmed off and pin to you pattern piece. You can use this as reference if you make the Neck Band again in a similar fabric.
14. Press Centre Back Seam.
* For thicker fabrics you can trim triangles out of seam allowances to reduce bulk. This does mean you have to re-cut the Neck Band if you have made it too small.
15. Re-fold Neck Band and press again.
* For very small necklines and skivvies this is a great chance to check that the Neck Band fits over your head.
16. If you have a bit of seam poking trim back for a clean edge.
17. Pin Neck Band matching notches to Neck Line.
18. Pin in between notches, stretching Neck Band to distribute evenly. Lots of pins really helps here..
19. Machine Baste with a straight stitch.
20. Press with lots of steam. Help set the neck by holding the fabric in place whilst it cools. The cooling sets the fibres, not the steam.
21. Check to see if it is sitting nicely without gathers or poking up.
22. Once it looks right. Overlock the pre-basted neck seam. Trimming the seam allowances back to 6 mm.
*If you don't have a 4 thread Overlocker.
You can sew the seam with either a stretch stitch on a domestic machine or a straight stitch and using Wooly Nylon in the bobbin.
Finish the seam allowances with 3 thread Overlocker, trimming the seam allowances back to 6 mm.
Zig-zag or three step zig-zag finish seam allowance and manually trim allowances back to 6 mm.
23. Press seams allowances.
24. Edge stitch your seam allowances to the body of your garment.
a. Flip your garment right side up.
b. Put on an edging presser foot to your sewing machine.
c. With either a straight stitch with Wooly Nylon in the bobbin (highly reccomended) or use a twin needle with normal thread, sew around the circumference of the neck sewing the seam allowance to the body of the tee.
25. Press and admire.