How to Finish a Neckline with a Neckband

When designing your garments it is important to consider how you are going to finish your neckline. It is not as simple as folding the fabric under twice as you would a hem as it will look a bit messy. Methods to finish off the neckline include using bias binding, applying a facing, adding a collar and attaching a neckband.

In this post I will show you how to add a neckband to your garment. I will take you step-by-step through how to draw the pattern and sew the neckband to the neckline. In my example I will be using ribbing however the same method can be applied when using self-fabric. Once you have got your head around the small amount of maths involved it really is quite simple!

There are many tutorials available on the internet on how to do this with advice on how to get the neckband the right length, but this is the method I used in my Alexander McQueen inspired dress.

What is a neckband?

It is a strip of material that goes around the neckline of a garment. Most t-shirts that you find in the shops will be finished with one. They can be made from ribbing or from the fabric that you have used to make the garment.

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A neckband made using ribbing

How to sew a neckband?

Before you start, sew the shoulder seams of your garment together.
Unless stated otherwise a 1.5 cm SA will be used

Draw the pattern:

  • Measure the circumference of the neckline of your garment using a tape measure. This needs to be fairly accurate. As I was working with a deep scoop neckline I found it easier to measure the length of the back and front separately and add those distances together.
  • The length of the neckband = (circumference of the neckline x 0.85) + 3 cm
    • If you made a neckband of the same length as the circumference of the neckline, you would notice that it would be baggy, gape at the front or stand up at the shoulders.
    • Therefore, it must be cut shorter so that it stretches to fit the curve. This should mean that it will sit flat against the chest.
    • I choose to reduce the length by 15%. To do this multiply the circumference of the neckline by 0.85.
    •  3 cm should be added to the length to include the SA.
    • If the circumference of my neckline was 58 cm then the length of the ribbing would be (58 cm x 0.85) + 3 cm = 52.3.
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The pattern for the neckband

Note: I have read blogs where the length of the neckband has been reduced anywhere between 5 and 25%. This value really depends on the stretch of the fabric you are using. I found 15% was a good starting point.

  • The width of the neckband = (2 x the final width) + 3cm
    • First you need to decide upon the finished width of your neckband. I wanted mine to be 3 cm.
    • As the neckband will be folded in half this measurement must be doubled.
    • 3 cm should be added to the width to include the SA.
    • The width of my ribbing was (2 x 3 cm) + 3 cm = 9 cm

Prepare  the neckband

  • Cut out your neckband on the crosswise grain.
    • Lay the pattern on the fabric so that the short edge runs parallel to the ribs and the long edge runs across the ribs.
  • Pin and sew the short edges, RST.
    • When using ribbing fabric it may be hard to tell the RS form the WS, so in this case it doesn’t matter.
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Sew the short edges, RST. Dashed line represents stitching line.
  • Fold in half along the fold line, WST. Press.
    • The seam which joined the two short edges together should now be enclosed.
  • Baste the ribbing closed along the open edge.
    • Sew a large zigzag stitch at a low tension.
    • This step is optional but it may make attaching it to the neckline easier.
  • Divide the neckband into quarters. This will help when attaching it to the neckline.
    • As the front of the neckline is longer than the back you can’t just divide it into 4 equal sections. That would be too easy! So a bit of maths is required to ensure the length is distributed evenly.
    • You need to work out the proportion of the neckband that corresponds to the back of the neckline. To do this measure the length of the back of the neckline. Multiply this distance by 0.85.
    • Starting at the seam line, measure this distance and mark with a pin.
    • The remaining length of the neckband should correspond to the front of the neckline. This distance should be the length of the front of the neckline x 0.85.
    • Split the neckband into quarters by marking the halfway points between the pin and the seam line.
finish neckline with a neckband
Divide the neckband into quarters. Grey oval represents the neckband. Red lines represent where the pins should be placed.
  • Split the neckline of your garment into quarters.
    • Place a pin at each shoulder seam, the centre front and the centre back.

Attach the Neckband

  • Pin the neckband to the garment, RST.
    • Match the seam of the neckband with the shoulder seam of the garment.
    • Match the quarter points you marked out in the previous steps
    • Make sure you are pinning the raw basted edge to the garment.
      sew a neckband
      Pin the ribbing to the neckline.


      sew ribbing to neckline
      Match the ribbing seam to the shoulder seam.

  • Sew the neckband to the neckline, RST.
    • Take it slowly one quarter at a time.
    • As you sew you need to gently stretch the neckband from pin to pin to fit the curve of the neckline.
    • I found it easier to start sewing where the seam of the ribbing meets that of the shoulder seam.
    • To double check the ribbing was the right size I first attached it using a basting stitch (a large low tension zigzag stitch). This way I could more easily remove the band and adjust the length if necessary. Once I was happy I sewed it with permanent stitches (I used a straight stretch stitch).

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      Sew the ribbing to the neckline.

  • Trim the SA.
  • Cut notches into the SA.
    • This will help the neckline sit flat once attached and reduce tension at the underside of the curve.
    • I did this for both the front and back of the neckline.
    • Do not cut through the stitching!
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Cut notches into the seam allowance
  • Optional: To finish you could top stitch around the neckline to keep the seam flat.

Final Advice:

I would advise that you practice this technique on a toile before you move onto your garment. That way you can make any adjustments easily and avoid taking a seam ripper to your garment. If the neckband is too tight it will look puckered. If it is long it will not sit flat.