Sometimes hemming knit fabric garments can be a little fussy, but Spoonflower crew member Teri is here to show you how to finish off your knit tops beautifully with a simple rounded neckline. Armed with this technique, you’ll be sewing knit necklines, armholes and hemlines with ease! Choose which knit fabric works best for your project, and you’ll be ready to get started. 

Teri showing off her perfect neckline knit tank top
Print operator Teri showing off her perfect neckline on that knit tank top

Teri: Knit fabrics are my favorite to sew and wear, yet all too often my sewing friends say they are intimidated by knits. Creating a clean, beautiful neckline on a knit top can be super easy and quick. Start with your favorite pattern for a knit top and a lovely knit fabric, like Performance Piqué. I chose this adorable print, Como se llama? by Happygoluckycreations, so the sweet llamas can cheer you on.

   Pin the neckband in four even sections
Using your knit top sewing pattern of choice, sew the shoulder seams, then carefully trim away the seam allowance around the neckline. Mark the neckline into 4 equal parts using pins. The llamas are happy because you are doing a great job!

To achieve a smooth neckline that does not ripple or gape open, the binding needs to be slightly smaller than the neckline. A tiny bit of stretching will keep the binding flat and close to the body. Don’t be frightened; we’re going to do a little math now.

Measure the neckline opening and multiply by .90, then add ½ inch for seam allowances. For example, the neckline of my pattern is 28 inches.

28 x .9 = 25.2 (I rounded that to 25, for the sake of simplicity)

25 + .5 = 25.5 (for the length of the binding)

Figuring out the width is a lot easier because the llamas and I have already figured that out for you. Cut the binding 1.5 inches wide. Sew the two short ends together, using a ¼ inch seam allowance.

Mark the binding into 4 equal parts using pins. With right sides together, pin the binding to the neckline, matching the quarter marks.

Remember, the binding is a little bit smaller than the neckline opening, so it won’t match up evenly.

Sew the neckband to your shirt

My zig zag stitch was set to 3 for length and 3.5 for width. Stitch the binding to the neckline with a ¼ inch seam allowance, gently stretching the binding to fit the neckline as you sew.

sew your neckband

Don’t worry if it looks a little wavy. We will fix that in a few minutes. This sleepy little llama certainly is not concerned about a little ripple in the stitching.

Pin your binding in place

Press the binding up, towards the zig zag stitching. I like to use a piece of plain cotton fabric over the knit fabric as a pressing cloth when using steam, just in case the iron decides to spit out too much water.

Now, wrap the binding over the seam allowance and to the inside. Pin the binding in place, making sure that the binding fully overlaps the zig zag stitching on the inside.

stitch in the ditch
It’s time to “stitch in the ditch”

From the right side, “stitch in the ditch” (in the existing seam line) between the body of the shirt and the binding. It takes a bit of concentration to keep the needle in the right place. This gets much easier with practice.

The last step is to press the neckline with a good shot of steam to eliminate any waviness from the stretching and stitching. The llamas are so proud of you for making such a beautiful neckline!

This technique is not just for necklines. It is a great way to finish armholes and even hems on knits. I hope this technique will make sewing with knits more fun and less fussy. Share links to your favorite sewing with knits tips + techniques with us in the comments below!