Adjusting Necklines and calculating band/binding length

I absolutely love the look of latest pattern from Mamma Can Do It, the Priscilla. The handkerchief hem adds a lovely and fun flair to any wardrobe. While I love the modesty of the high neckline, summer is quickly approaching and with temperatures already in excess of 80 degrees Fahrenheit a lower neckline will be more comfortable for me in the coming months.

There are several ways for you to adjust the neckline of your pattern, I chose to use the neckline from another pattern that I love. In the picture you can see my new front neckline drawn onto the pattern piece in red. I cut my back piece as drafted, my new front piece, and sleeves then started sewing. The only change made to construction was to skip hemming the sleeves as I prefer to do this at the end.Now it was time to measure the opening to get the length I needed for my binding.

Usually the length for bands and bindings is 80-85%. Because I was using a 4-way knit with excellent recovery I chose to use 80% for this top. I carefully folded the neck opening in half, matching the raw edges (this is a good time to mark your half-points if you haven’t already) and used a soft tape to measure the length. From here you double the measurement to get the length of the entire opening, then multiply by .80 and add your seam allowance twice (once for each end) to know how long you need to cut your band.

For easy math I’ll show you how to do this with a neck opening of 40″ and a seam allowance of 1/2″, so 1″ total added length. 40 x 0.8 = 32. 32 + 1 = 33. So the neckband for a 40″ neck opening would need to be 33″. If using a calculator it would look like this: (40 x 0.8) + (0.5 x 2) = 33. You can use this math problem to calculate any band length you need. Just adjust the opening, percentage, and seam allowance as desired.

After cutting my neck binding I decided to band the sleeves as well. I didn’t want them snug on my arms, so I used 90% for the length. I sewed the short ends of all three pieces, then marked the quarter points of the binding, bands, neck and sleeve openings. I folded the armbands in half along the length with wrong sides together, pinned the neck binding and armbands in place using the quarter markings, and attached them. Then all I needed to do to finish my top was fold the binding in towards the inside of the neck opening, topstitch in place, and trim the excess and hem to bottom.


Here’s a video on how to calculate!

My next sewing task is to sew up new Fit Pants to expand my wardrobe and add even more fun, custom flare to my clothing. The Fit Pants are quickly becoming a staple for all the members of this house and with the correct fabrics are suitable for almost any occasion.



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2 thoughts on “Adjusting Necklines and calculating band/binding length”

  1. Hello!
    If I am doing baby necklines – would you calculate the neckline you want and just do 80-85% measurement for binding? Or would I need to make the neckline bigger to allow for shrinkage due to binding?

    1. If you pre-wash your fabric, you shouldn’t have much shrinkage. You can use 80%, 85% or 90% of the neckline measurement. If you are using a stretchy fabric like rib knit I would use 80/85%. Something with less stretch I would use 90%.

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