Lowering/ Raising a Scoop Neck for Knits

Lowering/ Raising a Scoop Neck for Knits

Altering a neckline is such an easy way to add a bit of your own personal touch into a hand made garment. I love changing up necklines on garments because it's quick & easy and generally I feel 1000x more confident if the neckline is something I know I will like/ already have in my closet!

And altering a knit neckline can be one of the simplest alterations around. Today, I am going to show you a super simple alteration: Lowering/ Raising a scoop neck on a knit garment.

Now, you can do this for either the front or back of a garment- the process is still the same.

For my pattern, I am using the Nathalie Bodysuit which has a scoop neck back, but if I wanted to alter the front of the pattern, I would follow the same process. The only thing I'd want to account for is how low pr high I might take the neckline- too low and I might show more than needs to be shown whereas too high and I might not be able to get my head through!

For this project you will need the following items:

+ Tracing Paper
+ Original Pattern
+ Paper Scissors
+ Marking utensil
+ Fabric for your project
+ Ruler
+ Calculator (If you are bad at mental math like I am!)
+ Basic sewing supplies (for when you put your garment together)


I always like to make a copy of my original pattern onto tracing paper and alter the traced version. That way, if the idea or change I make doesn't work out, my original pattern is still intact. If you don;t like tracing or you aren't super attached to your pattern, feel free to mark directly on it. Otherwise, trace out your pattern pieces onto tracing paper and then put your original pattern to the side. Don't cut your traced pattern out just yet.

Now, how much you choose to raise or lower your neckline is 100% a personal preference. So many things will determine how high/ low you go including comfort, bra placement, need for regulating body heat (ahem me), etc. If you aren't sure how much you would like to change your neckline, you can do one of two things:

  1. Wing it! If you are working with a wearable muslin fabric, I say go for it and just try some things out to see what happens- you can always lower the neckline (if you went too high) or make your neckband thicker (if you go too low).
  2. You can compare your current pattern to a favorite RTW garment already in your closet! Put the two side by side and find spot to measure from (I tend to use the high point shoulder as my starting point) on both garments. Then alter your pattern to match! Don't forget to take your seam allowance and neckband measurements into account.

Once you have determined which method you would like to go for, and how much you'd like to lower or raise your neckline, you can mark your new cut line on your traced pattern.

Now you can go ahead and cut out your traced pattern pieces!

Next you can cut out all your fabric pieces (front, back, sleeves) as per the pattern. The only thing you don't want to cut out of fabric right now is the neckband. Because we have altered the neckline, the measurements of the original neckband piece will be off and we've gotta do some math before cutting out that new piece!

To determine the length (long edge) of our new neckband piece, we are going to have to do some measuring and then some math. The width (short edge) of the neckband can be the same as the original pattern piece width.

Grab a tape measure (or a  plastic ruler or a fancy curve ruler- whatever you have!) and measure the front pattern neckline as well as the back pattern neckline.

Jot those measurements down, grab your calculator, and take it one formula at a time:

  • (Back Neckline – Seam Allowance) + (Front Neckline – Seam Allowance) = Neckline Half
  • Neckline Half x 2 = Full Neckline
  • Full Neckline x 0.85 (or 85%) = Neckband without Seam Allowance
  • Neckband without Seam allowance + Front Seam Allowance + Back Seam Allowance = Neckband Pattern Piece

That's not too bad, right? You just have to take it slow and do one step at a time. Let's use my pattern pieces as an example:

  • (7 1/2”- 1/2”) + (6- 1/2”) = 12 1/2”
  • 12 1/2” x 2 = 25”
  • 25 x 0.85 = 21 1/4”
  • 21 1/4” + 1/2” + 1/2” = 22 1/4”

I will be cutting out a neckband piece that is 22 1/4” in length and 2” in width.

You might be wondering where I got the 85% for step 3. Well, neckbands for knit garments should always be slightly smaller than the neck opening. This ensures that the neckline will lay flat against the body when being worn and not gape or be ripply. I read a bunch of different views on how much smaller this should be (the range was anywhere from 75-90%), and I chose 85% after skimming another blog post by a sewist named Colleen. She chose 85% as her starting point and that seemed like it was right in the middle of the recommendations that were popping up in my research, so I went with it!

Of course, just as Colleen notes, this is not a fool proof number- if your fabric is super stretch or super structured, you may have to change that percentage to fit your specific fabric selection. Luckily neckband pieces are quite small, so if it doesn't feel right when sewing it in the first time, adjust! Oh, and definitely use a basting stitch at this point in the process while you determine what the correct % might be!

You will follow the same steps as your pattern mentions to attach your neckband to your neck opening. If there were notches in your original neckband piece indicating the shoulder seams, you can work with the quartering method to attach your neckband instead (since you will no longer have those notches to guide you).

And there you have it! You have successfully altered your garment's neckline and are one step closer to fully hacking your future patterns to fit your style all the time!

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