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How to Sew Neckbands

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Do you know how to sew neckbands on a shirt? Sewing and attaching a neckband could be dreadful for many, especially for a beginner level sewer. 

Knit fabrics are not capable of removing and reattaching back together again due to the damage caused to the fabric, even with a help of a sewing machine or serger. Therefore, the neckband must be sewn correctly the first time otherwise you will have to recut and sew the top.

How to sew neckbands? Calculate the neckband size by measuring the neck opening, then sew the neckband into a loop and fold to press. Mark quarter points on the neck opening and neckband to match, then zigzag stitch all three layers and stretch as you sew to match the quarter points on each side. 

Neckband finishes are one of the most popular types of necklines that are widely used on knit, and rare used for woven styles. It provides a casual look whether the neckline is crew, round, or v-neck.

Knit neckbands are tricky and require the correct steps, you may end up stretching out the neckband causing it to not lay flat when worn. These techniques and sewing tips will help you understand the correct way to sew knits when working on a neckband. 

In this article, you will understandhow to sew neckbands and what you need to accomplish a perfect neckband. Detailed below are answered to frequently asked questions about sewing neckbands.

What is the best stitch for stretchy fabric?

Zigzag stitch is the best stitch to use for stretchy fabrics because it is known as a flexible stitching that stretches with the fabric. Depending on the fabric choice and its usage, the zigzag stitches may vary by width and length.

Generally, woven fabric and stretch fabric requires different techniques. Stretchy fabric has elastic that needs the attention of the stitch type to match with the fabric. 

When correctly using a sewing machine to make a zigzag stitch, the seam can be dragged, stretched and pulled without breaking the thread. Smaller zigzag is stretchier while longer zigzagging is less stretchy. 

Longer zigzags are used where not much stretch is required. Use triple zigzag for additional strength for heavier knit fabrics.

Neckband Ratio

The neckband ratio should be around 85 percent of the opening, and always add in seam allowance to the measurement of the neckband. Neckband ratio is essential to calculate neckband length, which is equal to seam allowance plus neckline times neckband ratio.

Neckband ratio is dependent on the fabric and its stretch:

  • For ribbing with self-fabric or lycra with 50 percent stretch, use 75 percent ratio.
  • For cotton or poly ribbing with 100 percent stretch, use 66 percent ratio.
  • For fabrics with 35 to 50 percent stretch, use 80 to 85 percent ratio.
  • For fabrics that stretch below 35 percent, there is no need to use the neckband ratio.

Whether you follow a sewing pattern or are making a garment from scratch, measure the neckband ratio accurately to know how much fabric you need per sewing project. With these neckband ratio calculations, you can easily avoid shortages while cutting and sewing your top.

Tips for sewing neckbands

Other than using Serger to join the neckband and the bodice, there are additional tips for you to get a perfect neckband while sewing. 

Sewing neckband tips include:

  • Select the right fabric that provides appropriate stretch for your neckband. Neckbands are stretched during the sewing and attaching process. 
  • The fabric should also have a good recovery. Some recommended fabrics are rayon spandex, cotton, rib knit and ribbing. Avoid using 2-way poly blends, French terry and scuba.
  • Remember to cut the neckbands on cross-grain. Never cut the neckband along the grain, even if the knit has 4 way stretch because the vertical stretch does not have much stretch compared to the horizontal.
  • Find and clip the quarter spots of the neck opening and the neckband. Mark with erasable pen and temporarily pin the markings to sew over.
  • Employ the appropriate type of stitch depending on the fabric.
  • Press and steam with iron to make it flat.

How to make a neckband?

In order to make a neckband, understand the stretch properties of the knit fabric before getting started. Most of the time, knit should have a 25 percent vertical stretch and 50 percent horizontal stretch with good recovery. 

This is perfect for knit neckbands to attach to a t-shirt.

All knits aren’t made equal, and the fabric stretch matters compared to the woven. Rib-knit is well known for neckbands, however you may want to select the same fabric as the bodice.

If you know the fabric type, the neckband ratio will be easier to calculate. Measure the sewn neckband all around and get the neck opening measurement. 

A general width of the neckband can be taken as 1¾” for a t-shirt:
Neckband length = Neck opening x 85% or 0.85. 

(Here we have applied the general neckband ratio)
Example: 25 inches x 0.85 = 21.25” neckband length.

With the help of the neckband formula, you will create the correct neckband size to add to your knit top. This formula is for general knit use only, and always test on a scrap of knit fabric to nail the right measurements.

How to sew a neckband on a t-shirt

Measure the neck opening to input the number to get the correct neckband length when multiplied with the neckband ratio. Then you are ready to sew the neckband on a t-shirt. 

Before starting to sew, select the correct sewing needle. In this case, you will need a ballpoint needle for knit fabric with a durable thread to sew seams together. 

Ensure that the sewing machine is threaded properly to avoid skipping thread or jammed stitching. Test on a fabric to confirm the stitches are good to go before getting started on the actual garment!

Follow these steps to sew a neckband on a t-shirt:

  • Place the neckband within the neck opening right sides facing each other. 
  • Join the ends of the neckband to make a circle.
  • Match the neckband seam with your shoulder seam.
  • Mark the center at the back of the neck opening with chalk or erasable pen. 
  • Mark quarter markings on the neckband and neck opening.
  • Place the neckband on the neck opening’s bottom side, lineup the matching quarter markings.
  • Stretch the band to fit the neck opening from one quarter marking to another quarter mark and pin to secure.
  • Use a serger or zigzag for the widest stitch. Remove the pins as you sew.
  • Once sewn, turn it right side out. This is a hidden seam that gives a professional look. Leave it as is or topstitch the neckband down for a clean finish.
  • Finish by giving a nice steam press iron to meld the seam and make the neckband lay flat.
How to sew neckband

Sewing Neckbands: Final Thoughts 

Whether you are sewing a round or v-neck knit t-shirt, the steps for sewing a neckband on a knit t-shirt are quite the same. 

Be aware that the neckband ratio varies with the fabric stretchability. Use the neckband ratio and formula to find the correct measurement of the neckband length. 

Attach the neckband with zigzag stitch to create a loop and then fold wrong side facing together and press. 

Mark the quarter points around the neck opening and neckband to help sew evenly. You may use erasable pen or pin to sew over and remove as you go. 

U the zigzag stitch and stretch to match the quarter marked points while attaching the neckband to the neck opening.

Always complete the neckband with a nice press to help release any puckering or bubbling to smooth out the stitches. Press the fabric instead of moving back and forth when ironing as that will distort and stretch out the neckline before it is even worn. 

As a beginner, sewing neckbands may look intimidating due to different characteristics in the fabric that you need to be aware of, however sewing knit is quite easy to accomplish. When using a Serger or sewing machine, take time and sew slowly to complete a perfect neckline for your shirt creations.

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