Tutorial: How to Stay Knit Neck Edges

A common way of finishing simple knit T-shirts is to just turn under the raw edge around the neckline and topstitch or coverstitch the edge. Fast and easy! I have done it plenty of times, and my normal method of preventing gaping around the neckline was to stabilize right up against the cut edge of the neckline with knit stay tape. Worked reasonably well, but I did occasionally need to clip into the neckline so that it would lay smoothly when I turned it under prior to topstitching. You know what I’m talking about here.

knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris

This past weekend I learned a new trick from Pamela Leggett that produces much better results. Funny how just a slight change can make a big difference sometimes, huh? Here is <almost> Pamela’s awesome method:

  1. Baste around the neck edge on the stitching line. (This is where I differ with Pamela. She staystitches instead of basting – but I like to remove this stitching after I am all done so I baste using a contrast color of thread. I also “push” the knit fabric into the presser foot a little bit to prevent stretching the neckline edge.)
    knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris
  2.  Fuse Knit Stay Tape below the basting stitch. The tape should be on the garment side of the body. closeup of knit stay tape placement around neckline by Sew Maris
  3. The next step is to topstitch or coverstitch from the right side of the garment—your choice. Knit neckline stay tutorial by Sew Maris
  4. Fold over the neck edge and topstitch or coverstitch. I can do it without pinning or basting; you will have to decide if you are comfortable doing that. Knit neckline stay tutorial by Sew Maris
  5. When you are finished topstitching, on the inside of your neckline the cut edge should cover or almost cover the knit stay tape. At this point I also remove the basting thread.
  6. The final step is to press the neckline edge by holding the steam iron over the garment and shooting steam into the knit. Use your fingers to “block”  the neckline into shape. Do not touch your iron to the fabric!

This technique often reduces the need for clipping the neck edge, and also creates a smooth, consistent surface for your topstitching. It really is often a combination of little improvements that can elevate your sewing to a higher level, and this is definitely one of those tips. Brilliant! Thank you, Pamela!

Completed sleeveless tank by Sew Maris

Pamela has a great online video tutorial where she demonstrates this technique, using her sleeveless tank pattern that is included in the New Versatile Twin Set pattern. I can highly recommend this tank pattern; it is shown above in the yummy “coffee bean” knit from EmmaOneSock. I love how it fits snugly around your arm so no arm “boob” hangs out, and using her neck stay technique the neckline really hugs against your body. Win win!

Happy sewing!




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