Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Choosing the right length for a knit neckband

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Time for another lazy tip! Last time I talk about how to sew a basic tee, which almost always involves a folded band stretched and sewn around the neck.

Being supremely lazy, I never bother with the pattern piece for the bands. It’s not just laziness, either… Ever knit has such different stretch and recovery that one pattern piece can never be accurate for all jerseys! I’ve heard different methods for measureing the neckline then subtracting a percentage to get the right length… but come on, math? Not me!

Here’s my lazy method for figuring out how long a neckband piece should be to get the right amount of stretch.

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I use this method all the time, and it’s pretty reliable!

Here’s an example:

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See how the knit band is pinned at three points? As I sew, I know that the band *must* fit between those two points, so I hold tight and stretch the band to fit. No guess work that way, and a nice even stretch all the way around.

(On this particular example, the back neck has quite a pronounced curve. I knew this knit was very stretchy and could handle that extra distance, but on a more stable knit I might pin a fourth point at centre back to add some extra length.)

How do you figure out the length of knit bands? And does anyone have a tip for guesstimating the length of elastic needed on lingerie projects? Mine always comes out too tight or too loose!

p.s. I’ve started gathering all of my Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits together. Click on the link just below my header to find the other tips!


19 thoughts on “Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Choosing the right length for a knit neckband

  1. I’ve just been following your whole T series and it’s ALL brilliant & helpful. I especially appreciate this tip on sewing neckbands since I’m just about to do this very thing. I really like the method of sewing the band to the wrong side first, bringing the tube to the front and double needle stitching it along the front edge AND I discovered that wedding aisle runner works brilliantly as a pattern maker and is quite inexpensive 🙂

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  2. Thank you so much for this tip! I’ve been struggling with how to figure this out. As you mentioned, the pattern piece does NOT take into account a variety of fabrics. Just tried this today and am SO happy with my result! 😀

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  3. Thanks for this tip, Gillian! I just used it on a Plantain T-shirt and it worked a charm. Neckbands are usually my nemesis so I was pleasantly surprised.

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  4. Love this tip, Gillian. Too late for my Sew over it Heather dress though. It’s my first attempt in garment sewing and I guess, I didn’t follow the instructions well, the neckband is not flush to my body :(. The dress was almost perfect if not for the neckband. Do you have any idea on how to fix it?

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    1. That is so annoying! It happens to all of us though, so don’t stress it. First of all, give it a good steamy press with the iron and sew of that does the trick. If it’s just slightly loose, you could also try top stitching the seam allowance with a stretch stitch (like a little zig zag), and that will hold it down. If it’s really loose, fold the whole band inside and topstitch it down!

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      1. Thanks for the quick reply, Gillian. I did give it a steamy press and it helped a bit. It’s still a bit lifted but it’s not as noticeable anymore. Hopefully, I’ll be the only one who will know what’s wrong with the dress. I’ll try not to think about it, cause I really like the fit. Just found your blog today listening to Love to Sew podcast. Love your posts, can’t wait to read more.

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  5. Brilliant. I have been sewing knits since mid 70’s. I have stalled finishing a knit top because I hated doing the math calculation for determining the neck band. Your method worked so simply and beautifully. Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

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