I’m back, as promised, with a tutorial on drafting a new neckline on an existing pattern. I’m using the Panama Tee Dress in my illustrations, but the basic concepts in this tutorial are applicable to really any pattern. It’s quite simple and quick to do on a pattern with just a couple of pieces. Keep in mind that, for this tutorial, we are starting with a crew neck.
First, delineate the stitching line. In whatever pattern you are using, find the intended seam allowances for both the neckline and the shoulder. For the Panama Tee Dress, seam allowances are 3/8″ for both. Draw in the stitching line for both areas.
Second, draw in a new neckline. This is where you get to have all of the creative control. If you’re simply not sure where to start, use a shirt that fits well and use that neckline as a guide. If you’re unsure, then stay conservative. You can always lower the neckline before finishing it, but you can’t add back to it.
Keep in mind that the more stretch a fabric has, and the longer the length of the garment (say–a maxi dress versus a tee shirt) the more the neckline pull down. If you’re using a stable knit like ponte or french terry (neither of which I would recommend for longer than a knee-length dress), you can safely get away with a lower neckline.
For a scoop neck, you can simply lower the curve at center front. If you would like a wider neck, then widen the neckline at the shoulder seam. The illustration shows simply lowering it.
For a V-Neck, you can have a right angle at center front with straight lines connected to the shoulder. Or, you may want a softly curved V-Neck, as is shown in the illustration. As I mentioned above, you could also widen the neckline at the shoulder for a wide V-Neck.
For a boatneck, you’ll want to raise the neck at center front slightly (3/8″ would be plenty for the Panama Tee Dress), then swoop over to somewhere in the middle of the shoulder seam.
If you widen the neckline at all, you’ll also need to reflect that change on the back bodice. If you’re adding a boatneck, lower the neckline slightly at center back (3/8″ would be plenty for the Panama Tee Dress), then swoop over to meet the front neckline in the shoulder seam.
Third, add your seam allowances back in. For the Panama Tee Dress, this is the 3/8″ you took out earlier.
Fourth, adapt any other pattern pieces. For the Panama Tee Dress, this simply means adjusting the length of the neckband. In the pattern, I drafted the neckbands at 90% to accommodate for more stable knits. If you’re using a knit with a lot more than 20% stretch, you may want to adjust this percentage.
If you’re adding a V-Neck, deepen the triangles at the ends of the bands to match the angle of your center front V, and align that seam at center front. (So, if you have a right angle at center front, deepen the triangles to make a right angle at each end.) Here’s a tutorial on sewing a V-neck neckband.
If you’re adding a boatneck, you can omit the neckband and simply turn the seam allowance under, topstitching into place (use a stretch stitch on knits). I recommend stabilizing the neckline before turning under.
Finally, make a practice version before cutting into any fabrics that are precious. Double check the neckline placement and the changes you made to other pattern pieces.
Talk to me–what other kinds of tutorials would you like? Illustrating tutorials is a lot easier for me than photographing them (I work when it’s dark and lighting is bad). Do you like illustrations? Do you prefer photos?
I’m also curious–would you prefer to purchase an expansion pack with all of these necklines (and a few others) included for all sizes and views of the Panama Tee Dress, or do you prefer to just spend a few minutes using this tutorial to do it yourself?
Let me know what you’re looking for and let me know if you have any questions!