This post is an excerpt from a fitting article in Sewing Life Magazine 3.
What to do When the Neckline Feels Too High
Do you know the feeling when you put on a top, and it feels too tight on the front of your neck?
It’s very uncomfortable and feels almost suffocating.
It’s most common in sweaters and tops with high necklines, such as crew-necks and boat-necks (Especially something like the Annika Dress or Top). But the feeling of a neckline that is pulling towards the back can happen with other types as well.
The problem can be caused by different body variations:
A very common one is the rounded upper back. The extra length needed for the rounded back pulls the neckline towards the back and creates the problem.
But it can also be because of a forward-tilted head (which sometimes, but certainly not always, exists at the same time as a rounded back), or rounded shoulders, that also adds more length to the back shoulder.
No matter the cause – the solution is the same:
The pattern must be altered to create more length to the back piece, moving the neck-line and the shoulder seams forward.
How to Determine How Much to Move the Seam:
Before you begin, you need to decide how much you need to alter – i.e., how much longer your back piece needs to be to place the neckline in the right spot.
It’s often about 1 cm (3/8”) but can also be more. You can determine the amount by folding down the neckline on your muslin and measure.
Fold down the neckline until it’s comfortable to wear, and pin so that you can measure how much you need to alter it
How to Make the Alterations on the Sewing Pattern
You’ll need the pattern pieces for the front, the back and the sleeve.
Here I am using the slit-neckline top from Sewing Life 3 as an example, but the technique works for any pattern, as long as you know where the shoulders are (and that’s usually pretty easy to establish…)
Altering the Front and Back Pieces:
The first point of action is to draw lines on the front and back, just under the shoulder.
The lines must be at equal distance from the shoulder and perpendicular to the grainline.
On the front piece, you then draw a second line, parallel to the first one. Place it with the distance you want to alter with – here it’s 1 cm (3/8”).
Altering the Front Piece:
To remove the excess length on the front piece, cut along the uppermost line and move the piece to the other line, overlapping the area you want to remove.
Altering the Back Piece:
On the back piece, you need to add length, so you cut along the line and spread the pieces the same distance (1 cm (3/8”) in this example).
Add pattern paper and tape in place, making sure the center-back is straight.
Re-draw the curves at the armscyes.
And that’s it for the front and back.
Altering the Sleeve Pattern Piece
- On the sleeve pattern, draw a line, perpendicular to the grainline, with the same distance from the shoulder point as before.
Cut along the line, from the sleeve cap towards the center of the sleeve, but do not cut through the center line (leave a small paper hinge).
- Rotate the top part of the sleeve down at the front sleeve (the same amount as you altered the front and back), so that the sleeve cap becomes shorter at the front sleeve and longer at the back sleeve.
- Insert pattern paper underneath and re-draw the curves.
And that’s it!
You are ready to cut the fabric for a new shirt, that will feel great on your neck!
Simple, clear instructions…thank you!
I thought I was getting a dowager (sp ?) hump back, but your great instructions may solve my problem.
I am always pulling my back shirt down, just a little
This is very useful – I am one of those always having this problem. Thanks!
Thank you. I know that I have rounded back and forward head but have never done the pattern alteration this way. Will give it a try next time because it seems so logical
Wow thanks for the sleeve info!! This is so helpful!
Is there an easy fix if it’s a shop bought garment with a front neck that feels too high please?
Thanks for the clear, concise instructions!
My question is on the sleeve does the center notch need to be move and if it does is it moved to the front of the sleeve or the back of the sleeve? Your instructions are very clear and helpful thank you!
So glad I found you. Easy instructions to fix all the fitting problems I have. Thank you so much!
I have one particular rtw top that does this all the time. Glad to know I can fix it when I make my own! Thank you
Good instructions which I’m going to save. I have one question.
Doesn’t this change the length of the side seams?
No. It doesn’t affect the side seams at all.
Your instructions are so clear and fantastic. I think I need to make this adjustment plus a forward shoulder one too, which one would I do first?
Wow, great instructions for a problem that I always have. Thanks so much.
This is so brilliant! I often have to shorten the front bodice because of short torso/ full bust issues and this method looks like it should work for me.
Indicazioni utilissime: grazie
Thank you for this! I didn’t know how badly I needed this.
You instructions make perfect sense. They are clear and well explained and illustrated.
Should I continue to do a forward shoulder adjustment also?
I can’t tell you how many times I refer to your helpful pages! I have done this alteration with great success! One thing I cannot find addressed anywhere is how to do a forward shoulder adjustment on a pattern that has a back yolk that wraps to the front, and the seam line sits on the front with gathers directly under. Do you have a link for that?