NEW Tutorial-- Stretch NeckBand with Stable Back Seam

Monday, December 6, 2010
Most of us have made tops with necklines finished with simple stretch neckbands instead of binding. Here is rather dressy style that I made for myself with a narrow self-fabric Stretch Neckband...

And here is a casually styled Toddler Sweatshirt that I recently made for my favorite one-year-old little girl, with a neckband made from rib-knit...
Whether casual or dressy, made with self-fabric or ribbing...it is all too easy for a Stretch Neckband to end up looking "wonky" because the layers have shifted while being sewn to the neckline.  Keeping the seamed edges of a Stretch Neckband completely straight and stable while sewing it to the neckline can be tricky...especially with slippery knits !

Here is a way to stabilize and neatly enclose the back seam allowance of a Basic Stretch Neckband. This method may be common to experienced sewists, but it may be new to those who do not have much experience sewing with knits. Regardless, I hope you find it useful :)

So let's start :)
After you have determined how wide and long to make your Stretch Neckband (be it from a pattern piece, or your own design preference), it will look something like this example below...a single thickness of knit fabric.
(Please Note-- In this tutorial I am demonstrating with Rib Knit, aka "Ribbing")


The next step is to fold the strip in half, Right Sides Together so that the short ends meet, as shown below.
Usually, this is when we would sew the Back Seam of the Neckband, by stitching the short raw edges closed to form a circle (loop). But the next step is where this method differs from the norm.
Next, fold the entire strip in half again...this time from the top down. After making this fold you will have 4  (longer) raw edge layers that meet, 4 (short) raw edge layers that meet, and 2 folded ends that meet, as shown below.

Now take your folded Neckband Strip to the sewing machine, and stitch a seam starting from the TOP fold, through all four stacked short layers, as shown in the next 2 photos below. In this example I am using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

We now have a twice-folded Neckband piece, that has had the 4 (short) layers seamed together. As a result, we also now have 4 layers of seam allowance. At this point, you can choose to grade the seam by trimming the 2 inner seam allowances.  
If I decide to grade this seam, I trim the 2 inner seam allowance layers by about half their width.

Now...finally...you will see the point of the extra fold and stitching those 4 stacked short edges together!
After the top edge is turned (flipped) over the seam allowances and all the raw edges meet,  your Stretch Collar Band is ready to be sewn to the neckline of your garment.
The folded back seam allowances have been "locked" together by the stitching that was done, and now will not shift or slip when being sewn to the garment...yay!

QUICK REVIEW--The following sketch illustrates the usual way a Stretch Neckline Band is sewn to the neckline of a garment.
From top to bottom: 1. Quarter-mark the raw edges of the Stretch Neckband, using the Center-Back Seam as one of the marks. 2. Quarter-mark the neckline edge of the Garment.  3. With right sides together, match the marks of the Stretch Neckband to the marks of the neckline, then sew the Neckline Band to garment...stretching the Neckline Band to fit the neckline edge.
^Click photo to Enlarge^