April 18, 2012
I'm using a plain white shirt that I like. White goes with everything, nice and comfy, yada yada. One problem - it's a crew neck. Not all crew necks annoy me but this one does because I feel like it's constantly choking me so I never wear the shirt! Well, there's an easy fix.
I bought a small amount of white rib knit to match the shirt. You don't need to use rib knit. You can use the same fabric as your shirt fabric if you can't find rib knit to match. The difference between rib knit and regular t-shirt jersey is that rib is stretchier along the crossgrain than jersey which is why it is often used for collars and cuffs.
First I cut my new neckline shape out. I marked a dot for the point and connected it to the shoulder seams with a ruler. If you're using a v-neck t-shirt pattern obviously this part is already done for you.
If you want you can stay stitch the neckline along the stitching line. I'm using 1/4" seam allowances because I'll be using my serger.
If not, you'll still need to reinforce your center point by stay stitching a couple inches from the point on either side, pivoting at the point.
Carefully clip the center point to the stitching line but don't cut through the stitch.
Now to prepare the collar - if you are using a pattern it's easy because you just follow the directions for the length of your collar piece. If you're altering like me, measure the neckline opening. Mine is 26".
Now we have to consider some design theory - if you were to wear your shirt as it is now you'll notice that the unfinished neckline is a little loose and gaping. This is because the neck is cut on a curve/angle and we know that fabric cut on the bias is extra stretchy. This is no different. We want our collar to wrangle in that floppy, stretchy neckline so it sits nice and flat without being too loose or puckering.
If we cut our collar the same length as our neck opening then the collar will still be loose. If we cut it too short it won't be able to stretch enough to accommodate the big neck opening. I find the sweet spot is to cut a length of collar somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 the length of the neck opening depending on the stretch of your fabric. If you are using regular, not-so-stretchy jersey go for 3/4. I'm using rib knit which is stretchier than jersey so I'm going closer to 2/3.
I want my collar to have a width of 3/4" with 1/4" seam allowances. Easy - that's 1". Because the collar is folded over I'll double that amount - 2" wide by 18" long, which is about 2/3 of 26" (my neck opening measurement) plus seam allowances.
Cut out your collar and stitch the short ends together, right sides facing. This will be your center back.
Next fold it over, wrong sides facing, matching long edges and press. Now you've got a collar loop.
Fold the loop in half with the center back at one end. The other end will be the center front V. Stitch at an angle on this end like the photo above. In the picture the fold is on top and raw edges are on bottom. Open up the collar and press the V like in the photos below. Now you have a nice point!
If you want to tack down that extra collar fabric on the inside you can stitch in the ditch of the center front seam.
Now to match up the points - remember that tiny clip we made? Spread open the clip and use the stay stitching as a guide to match up the seam lines of the shirt and collar point.
Pin the collar to the neck opening matching center back and center front. With right sides together evenly stretch the collar to fit the neck opening and pin. This may take a time to get it balanced. If you have trouble you can pin and sew one half of the collar at a time (like the pic above).
Tie and cut off your tails if you're using a serger.
Press the collar away from the shirt with seam allowances towards the shirt. Almost done! Using a zig zag, twin needle, or a straight stitch if your v-neck is wide enough to fit over your head without needing to stretch, stitch down the seam allowances to the shirt fabric. This prevents the collar from flipping out and exposing the seam and creates a nice finish. I broke my twin needle so I'm just doing a single straight stitch.
Now I have a much more wearable shirt! And you, too, can create nice pointy v-necks on your shirts!