Making the Zadie dress? In this post I’m going to show you how to attach the neckband.
Start by pinning together the short ends of the neckband, right sides together. Stitch them together with a narrow zigzag (1-1.5mm wide x 2.2-2.5mm long) to form a loop. (You can do this bit on an overlocker or serger, but it’s a bit less lumpy if you use a regular sewing machine.)
Trim the seam allowances and press them open. Fold the neckband in half lengthways, wrong sides together, and press.
Lay the dress out flat right sides up on your sewing table. Line up the seam line on the neckband with one of the raglan seams on the back dress, and pin both raw edges of the folded neckband to the bodice neckline. Continue pinning the neckband to the neckline on the dress.
The neckband is 10% smaller than the bodice neckline so it will pull in and stop the neckline from gaping – so you’ll need to stretch it slightly and evenly as you pin it in place. You’re only stretching the neckband here, not the neckline on the dress.
If you’re struggling with this part or want to make extra sure you end up with a super neat neckband, I highly recommend checking out my online workshop, Learn to Sew Jersey Tops, in which there’s a whole video lesson on attaching a neckband, including an alternative method of pinning it in place :)
Starting from the neckband seam, tack (baste) both layers of the neckband to the bodice neckline with a long zigzag (2.5mm wide x 4mm long), 10mm (3/8in) from the raw edges. Gently stretch the neckband flat from pin to pin so it’s the same length as the dress neckline. (If you’ve made the Agnes top before, you may have tacked with a straight stitch – but as this neckline is smaller, you need a zigzag tacking stitch so it can stretch over your head.)
If you’ve sewn with knit fabrics a few times before, you’ve probably discovered that the same pattern can end up looking and fitting very different depending on your fabric and how stretchy it is. So here’s where you have to use your judgement – if your neckband looks like it’s gaping, you may need to sew it again a little smaller. In which case, unpick it (this is why we tacked before stitching!), restitch the ends of the neckband further in to shorten it, trim and press the seam allowances open, and reattach the neckband to the dress.
Once you’re happy with your neckband, narrow zigzag stitch or overlock (serge) the neckband to the bodice neckline with a 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance. As you’re sewing, rather than looking at the seam allowance guide, keep your eye on the distance between the fold of the neckband and the edge of the presser foot – keep this distance even so your neckband ends up the same width all the way around.
Trim the seam allowances if you didn’t overlock them. Press them to the inside of bodice and press the neckband away from the bodice. A good, steamy iron can help a lot in sewing, especially when it comes to a neckband in knit fabrics – the steam will help the neckband shrink back down to size and sit nice and flat.
With the bodice right side up, topstitch the seam allowances to the bodice close to the seam line with a wide and even zigzag (2 x 2mm or 2.5 x 2.5mm). To sew close to the seam line, you can line up the neckline seam with a ridge on your presser foot.
And this is what it should look like once you're done!
I’ve used contrast thread in the instructions photos so you can see it, but you’ll want to use matching thread to hide the stitches. In fact, if you’re making a colour block version, it’s worth sewing the neckband in four sections – the sleeve parts first in matching thread, then the bodice parts in matching thread – back tacking at the start and end of each section to secure the threads, and taking care not to overlap the seams. A bit more effort, but worth it!