Sewing a jersey neckband is arguably the fiddliest part of making a T-shirt, sweatshirt, jersey top or dress. But once you get to grips with this technique, you’ll love the freedom of making stretchy clothes you can pull on over your head, without the need for zips or buttonholes.
In this post I’m going to show you how to successfully sew a jersey neckband. We also made a video so you can see the steps in action 🙂
I’m demonstrating on our Tabitha T-shirt and dress pattern, which you can find in my book Make It Simple. You can use the same technique to sew the jersey neckband on our Lotta dress, Agnes top, Nora top and lots more sewing patterns.
I’m using a jersey ribbing for the neckband, which is extra stretchy so perfect for squeezing your head through a smaller neckline. If the neckline on your pattern is wider and the pattern doesn’t tell you to use ribbing, you should be able to use the same fabric as the rest of the garment.
Let’s do this…
Fold the neckband right sides (or nice sides) together, bringing the short ends together.
Pin them together.
Stitch – you can use an overlocker or serger if you have one, otherwise sew with a stretch stitch or narrow zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine.
TIP: Sewing machines love to chew up narrow strips like this, so I usually start sewing a little way in from the edge, then sew back over the gap.
Trim the seam allowances if you didn’t overlock them.
Press them open or to one side. Fold the neckband in half lengthways, with wrong sides (or insides) together, and press the fold.
Now to attach the neckband to the bodice. It’s easiest to do this after you’ve sewn the shoulder seams, but before you’ve stitched up the side seams.
Find the centre front and centre back of the bodice neckline by folding it in half, bringing the shoulder seams together. Mark the folds with a pin.
Find the centre of the neckband by folding it in half widthways, with the stitched seam at one end, and mark the fold at the other end with a pin.
Lay the neckband over the right side of the bodice, and pin the stitched seam on the neckband to the centre back of the bodice neckline – the raw edges should be together. Pin the centre point of the neckband to the centre front of the bodice neckline.
Pin the rest of the neckband to the bodice neckline. The neckband will be slightly smaller than the bodice neckline to pull it in and stop it gaping, so you’ll need to stretch it gently and evenly to fit.
Stitch the neckband to the bodice, using a stretch stitch, narrow zigzag stitch or overlocker.
Gently stretch the neckband to fit between the pins, taking care not to stretch the bodice neckline.
TIP: Keep your eye on the neckband fold and try to keep it an even distance from the presser foot so it ends up an even width all the way round.
Trim the seam allowances if you didn’t overlock them. With a steamy iron, press the neckband away from the bodice and the seam allowances to the inside of the bodice.
A good steamy press should help your neckband to sit nice and flat.
The amount of stretch in fabrics does vary though, so getting a neckband to sit nicely can be a case of trial and error.
If the neckband is still sticking up or sagging, you can unpick it, make it smaller by sewing the ends closer together, and try again.
Or, if it’s too tight, cut another neckband slightly longer.
You can now leave the neckband as it is, or topstitch it to the seam allowances with an even zigzag (2.5 x 2.5mm) or a twin needle, just below the neckline seam.
And that’s it! Your lovely finished jersey neckband.
If you’d like more tips on sewing with jersey fabric, check out my online workshop Learn to Sew Jersey Tops, in which I share tons of tips and tricks for sewing knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine, no overlocker or serger required 🙂
Author: Tilly Walnes
Video: Jenny Lingham-Doe
Step photos: Jane Looker – from Make It Simple (Quadrille/Hardie Grant, 2020)