Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

MirandaElliot Sweater and Tee, Guest Bloggers, Jackson Tee and Pullover, Luna Tank, Sewing Tutorials5 Comments

How to Sew a Knit Neck Band

How to Sew a Knit Neck Band - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

I love a simple knit sewing project. Easy to sew, easy to fit, and often the most-worn pieces in my wardrobe. I’ve made close to twenty tees now, and I just love how quickly and easily they come together. The Jackson Tee is no exception. I can whip one up in just a few hours, and it’s one of the first pieces I reach for week after week.

Sewing a knit neck band is arguably the trickiest part of sewing most knit tops, but if this is a new technique for you, I think you will be surprised at how simple it actually is. It is definitely a skill that benefits from practice, but if you stick with it you will be amazed at how quickly your results improve. Today I’ll walk you through how to sew the neck band of the Jackson Tee, but these same techniques can be used for the Elliot Tee and Luna Tank too. All you need is a zig zag stitch, your fabric pieces, and a few rounds of practice!

Don’t forget that JacksonBlackwood, and Elliot are all on sale during the month of October! Grab them for 20% off, no coupon code required.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Attaching a Knit Neck Band

First, we need to prepare the pattern pieces so we can attach the neck band. Sew the front and back shoulders together per the Jackson instructions, being careful not to stretch out the neckband (resist the urge to try the garment at this point). 

With wrong sides together, fold the neck band in half lengthwise and press. This is called a pre-press and will make things easier a few steps later.

How to Sew a Knit Neck Band  - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Unfold the pressed neckband. With right sides together, fold the neck band in half and sew or serge the shorter un-notched ends together using a ⅜” seam allowance. Press the seam open.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band  - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

If you used a serger (like I have above), clip into the seam in the middle before pressing one half of the seam allowance to the right and the other half to the left. This will give you a flatter final seam.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Using your earlier pre-pressed lines as a guide, and with wrong sides together, fold the neck band in half lengthwise. Press again if needed.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band  - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Optional: Baste the raw edges of the neck band together using a medium zig-zag stitch close to the edge. This will make it easier to attach the band to the neck opening because you have fewer layers to worry about. It’s also helpful if you have a fabric piece prone to curling.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band  - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Now the neck band is ready to be pinned to the neckline. With right sides together, start pinning the neck band to the neckline. I like to do this with the front and back piece laying right side up, with the neck band sitting on top. Match the neck band seam line with the center back, and the neck band notches with the center front and shoulder seams.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band  - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
How to Sew a Knit Neck Band - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

You will notice that the neck opening is larger than the neck band. You will need to distribute the extra fabric evenly by stretching the neck band to fit the neckline.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

In general, I have found that the less pins I use, the trickier it is to “catch” all the layers, but the more even the overall results are. With more pins, it’s easier to catch all the layers, but the harder it is to evenly distribute the stretch. My (personal) happy medium is eight pins—four for the marked notches and another four in between. Practice a few times to figure out what you like best!

How to Sew a Knit Neck Band - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

With the neck band pinned, it’s time to sew! Take the pinned pieces to your sewing machine or serger (a serger is photographed here, but the instructions are the same for both). You can use the free arm of your sewing machine if you have one. I prefer to sew this step with the neck band on bottom and the bodice pieces on top, so I can keep the curved pieces of the neckline from shifting while I sew. 

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Using a 3/’8” seam allowance, start sewing or serging the pieces together. You will need to stretch the neck band slightly to fit the neck line as you sew, being careful not to over stretch it. You want to stretch it just to the point that it’s the same length as the neck line, without stretching out the neck line itself. Go slowly, removing pins as you sew and stretching the fabric until you reach the next pin. 

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Once the seam is sewn, double check that you caught all of the layers and don’t have any tucks or puckers. If you do, don’t worry—this happens all the time! Simply unpick that area and restitch. 

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials
Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Press the seam allowance towards the body, being mindful of the iron temperature (it is easy to scorch knit fabrics at this step). Use the end of your ironing board or a tailor’s ham (pictured here) to press nicely on the curve of the neck band. Use steam to even out any waviness and help it lay nicely.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

If you are happy with the result, you can move on to the next step of your Jackson Tee

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Optional: you can topstitch around the neckline using a medium zig-zag stitch or twin needle. This will help secure the seam allowance on the wrong side, and gives the tee a nice finish. Click here to read our post about how to use a twin needle.

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

And you’re done! You’ve finished the trickiest bit of most knit patterns. As I mentioned earlier, practice goes a long way, and you may need to try it two or three times to get a good feel for the technique. If you have extra fabric, try cutting out a few extra pattern pieces to try it out before sewing the final garment (there’s no need to cut the entire bodice pieces, you can shorten them to just focus on the neckline). 

We can’t wait to see your results! Happy sewing!

Sewing a Knit Neckband - Helen's Closet Blog Tutorials

Don’t miss the Helen’s Closet sweater sale! During the month of October you can grab JacksonBlackwood, and Elliot for 20% off, no coupon code required.

About the author

Miranda

Miranda Milke is a freelance writer and content marketer with a passion for all things sewing and textile arts. You can find her work on Instagram @stitchinginspace and on her blog at stitchinginspace.com.

5 Comments on “How to Sew a Knit Neck Band”

  1. One thing I struggle with is calculating the size of a knit band. For instance, if I make an adjustment to an arm or neck hole, how do I recalculate the size of the band? Some sites say the band should be 90% of the size of the hole but I’m sure that must depend on the fabric. Do you have any advice? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristine,

      Great question! I like to cut my neckbands at 90%, baste them together at the ends, and try pinning them to my neckline. If it feels like there is too much slack in the band, I’ll shorten it. I think this instinct comes with practice on many shirts. As you said, fabrics have different stretch so it is hard to give a ‘rule’ that will always work. I trust my intuition instead.

  2. This was great! Very well written , and I learned something: the bit about clipping the seam allowance and pressing them in opposite directions is something I hadn’t thought of. It will hep eliminate the bump I’ve been having which has irritated me no end.

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