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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Troubleshooting Knit Neckbands

Knit fabric makes really comfy outfits and that's a big plus in my book!  You may have noticed that many (but not all) knit styles use a neckband or binding at the neck.  It's a nice way to finish the edges of a top or dress without a lining.   Today we're going to give you a few tips on how to adapt your neckband for different fabrics so they will turn out fabulous every time. 

First of all, let's talk about what a neck band or neck binding should look like.  The Paxlynn's dress above shows an evenly attached neckband that is the perfect fit to the neck hole.  You can see that it lays nicely without standing up or pulling at the edges. The neck should appear to be a natural part of the outfit.  

The same goes for other types of neckbands, such as the easy V on Jerry's jersey above, the traditional V on Zach's V-neck shirt, and the pulled neckband on Brock's letterman jacket. Even though they aren't regular round neck bands, the same tips apply.

The same goes for bindings.  While a neck "band" is folded in half and attached with the raw edges on the inside of the outfit, a binding is folded around the edge more like a bias tape, with the raw edges fully enclosed in the binding.  This is what you see on bodysuits like Kyle's and tank tops like Leslie's.  In the photo above you mostly notice the super cute baby and outfit rather than the binding, because it is so neatly and evenly attached. This is the professional look we're going for! 

And of course there are times when we use contrasting fabrics to stand out as a nice trim.  This makes it even more important for the binding to be on just right. 

So does this mean that it's super hard to get the right balance for a nice neck band or neck binding?  Definitely not!  I believe knit outfits can be beginner level with an understanding of how knits stretch.

There are many kinds of knit fabrics that are different in content, thickness, stretch, and recovery. You don't need to fully understand each of these qualities; you just need to know that they exist.  For example, if you make a neckband according to the pattern's cutting chart but it comes out really loose and stands up awkwardly, there's a good chance that you're using a fabric with more stretch than recommended.  Or, if you have a hard time getting your neckband to stretch to the neckline called for, you may be using a fabric with not enough stretch.  Our CKC patterns will help a lot with this, by recommending what amount of stretch you should look for.  

The photo below shows a screenshot from our knit pattern template. If you look closely, it tells you the recommended amount of stretch in red print, and below that it explains how to know how much stretch your chosen fabric has. 

We also mentioned the content of the fabric.  When you're shopping, pay attention to what you're buying. Cotton lycra makes really nice neckbands (this is what I use most often), double brushed poly is a popular choice for trendy women's clothes, and spandex and swim lycra have pretty good stretch and recovery as well.  The recovery refers to how well the knit bounces back to its original size/shape after being stretched and released.  If you use a knit with poor recovery, you will find that the bands get stretched out very easily.  Also, the thickness of your chosen fabric can play a part in how the neckband lays.  Thinner knits tend to stretch a little more, while thicker ones hold their shape. It all depends on the fabric. Again, you don't need to be an expert on fabric types.  You just want to be aware that these factors can make a big difference on your how your neck bands and neck bindings lie on the finished outfit! 

So... if you find that you are making an outfit and your neckband seems too large or too small, that does not mean the pattern is "off".  It may simply mean that you are using a fabric that needs adjusting!  If your neckband seems too long so it "sticks up" after attaching, you can subtract 1" from the suggested band measurements so it will pull more and lie down more flat.  I chose the photo above to show what I mean by "standing up", although this particular pattern is intended to stand up.  As a rash guard, we want the neckband to stand up to give the neck more sun protection. But if a regular dress had the neckband standing up like that, I would probably go back and take 1" off the length so it would pull more and lay down flatter. 

The opposite is true too!  If you find that your neck band is way too tight to attach to your raw neck edge, or maybe you get it on and it creates puckers or stress on the shirt fabric, you can re-cut a new neck band that is 1" longer than recommended.  

Remember, this doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with your fabric or anything wrong with the pattern; it simply means that different fabrics have those four qualities discussed above and you can adapt as needed!  

In the end, this is your outfit so you can adjust it so it's right where you want it!  

After you've used a particular fabric once or twice, you will get a feel for how it stretches and whether it needs adjusting.  I have noticed that over time I switched over from store knits to more online-purchased cotton lycra, so I tend to cut my neckbands shorter than I used to do.  I sometimes adapt for different fabrics, but I can usually do it before sewing so I don't have to go back and redo a neckband.  

I hope you find these troubleshooting tips useful!  If you have any comments or questions, please come share in our patterns group on Facebook.  We would also love to see what you make with your favorite CKC patterns.

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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