Stabilising a neckline in a knit fabric

This tutorial has been prepared for the Edie cardigan, particularly if you are choosing to sew it with a rolled hem. However, it will work for almost any garment on which you’d like to stabilise the neckline!

You will need: a short strip of 1cm/ ⅜” wide knit stay tape, clear elastic, twill tape or grosgrain ribbon, a little longer than the centre back neckline, to stabilise the back neck of your cardigan.

We recommend that you stabilise the back neck of your cardigan to avoid it stretching out with wear. If you don’t mind a more relaxed look, you may prefer to omit this step (you can look at the gallery of photos on our website to see what the necklines look like unstabilised after wear: search “Edie” in the blog section). If you decide you want to stabilise this seam, follow these steps:

Please note that we have chosen a contrast thread and ribbon for clarity in the pictures, and only cut the top part of the pattern pieces for the tutorial so you can see the relevant sections!

The first steps come either right at the beginning (if you cut your back piece on the fold) or right after the first step (if you used a centre back seam for your cardigan).

  1. Choose a stabilising material appropriate for your fabric (for a very lightweight fabric you might prefer knit stay tape or a strip of fusible interfacing; for a more stable fabric you could use twill tape or a grosgrain ribbon). You can also use clear elastic, but for a rolled hem it will be visible so for you may prefer only to use this if you are enclosing the elastic in a regular hem.
  2. Cut a length of tape or ribbon slightly longer than the length of the back neck.
  3. Pin this to the wrong side of the back neck: pin it just below the raw edge if you are doing a rolled hem, and at the raw edge if you are doing a regular hem.
  4. Baste in place.

    Wrong side

    Right side

  5. On the right side of the fabric, use a coverstitch machine, a twin needle on a regular machine, or a decorative zigzag stitch to secure the bottom edge of the tape in place.6. Remove basting stitches

    Wrong side

    Right side

    When you come to stage 7 (hemming the garment), proceed as follows:

    By this point, you will have sewn the shoulder seams, so the ends of your tape will have been caught and finished in the seams as shown below: so at this point the neckline of your garment will look like this:

    Right side

    If you are doing a rolled hem, this step will be simple. Start at the centre back, and on the right side sew a rolled hem all the way round your garment. If you are using an overlocker, it is helpful to snip a tiny section out of the seam allowance so that you can position your garment under the presser foot:

    Make sure that you only cut a section as wide as the part your overlocker knife will cut off, not as wide as the whole seam allowance!

    If you have used tape or another non-fusible product to stabilise your back neck seam, the upper, unsecured edge of the tape will be sewn into the rolled hem. When you come back to the centre back, stitch an inch or so over your first stitches to secure.Please note that I have used a longer stitch so that it shows up well in the photos! Your rolled hem will be narrower than this.

    Then all you have to do is finish off your final threads:

    If you are doing a regular hem rather than a rolled one, all around the garment press your hem up to the wrong side by ½” and pin in place. Whatever product you have used to stabilise your back neck seam will now be covered in the seam, and your original line of topstitching will now be at the top of the inside neck. Starting at the centre back, stitch on the right side at 3/8” with a coverstitch machine, a twin needle on a regular machine, or a decorative zigzag stitch.