How to make a neckline smaller (or bigger) 4

You have a favourite top that is too wide at the neck opening and you want to make the neckline smaller? Or, you are working on a pattern and don’t like how the pattern is finished at the neckline?

Either way,

this article is going to outline a couple of ways to deal with this problem. You are going to learn several ways to reduce, change the shape, or enlarge a neckline opening. They can fall into two main categories:

1. If you have a ready to wear garment that needs a smaller neck opening.

  • With darts/small pleats.

Make darts or small pleats with different depth, shape and length in order to get the best result.



This is a very common way of altering the neckline, because of the various positions and number of pleats/darts you can add.  In this particular case, the problem is that the neck opening in the pattern is made for binding, but is actually done on a cover stitch machine. The neckline is too wide only at the front.



Watch the video tutorial below on how to make the neckline smaller.


  • Use a gathering or elastic.

Add some elastic or make some gathering in the middle area or on the whole length of the neckline to gather the neckline. You can pull the elastic more or less when attaching it. This will result in a bigger or a smaller gathering. Choose how much to alter the neckline according to the fabric used, the form of the neckline and your preferences. You can add gathering/elastic to:add-elastic-to-a-neckline

1.A small area of the neckline;

2.The whole front of the garment;

3. Both front and back (the whole neck opening).




  • With binding.

This is a way to do it if you make the t-shirt or blouse yourself, you’ve cut the neckline too low and have some additional fabric. Then you  can provide a wider binding tape. Note that this could only work with knitted fabrics and it can make a difference of an inch or so without looking odd.


  • Correcting from the shoulder.

Note: THIS IS NOT THE NATURAL SHAPE OF A SHOULDER IN A BODICE. It may result in a very strange form. It is a must to pin and try on the garment before cutting. But it actually gives me good results very often.This will work for both scoop neck and v-neck. Break the shoulder seam and pull some of the excess fabric in front up. Then make the shoulder seam again.


  • With an additional piece of fabric.

    Stitch a piece of matching or contrast fabric around the neckline to make it smaller.


2. If you are working on a pattern.

Applying changes directly on the bodice pattern is perhaps the easiest way to manipulate the neckline. And usually, the one that gives the best results.

  • Lift the neckline opening higher.

This adjustment will result in changing only the neckline curve. It can be higher or lower, or even change the form of the oval if it is a scoop neckline.make-the-neckline-smaller-on-bodice-pattern

  • Change the form of the neckline.

There are a lot of varieties that can be applied. For example v-neck, square or heart shape, wider or more narrow opening. This adjustment allows you to use the same bodice pattern that fits well and create different looks.


This adjustment can be made in case that the whole upper chest area is longer than your body measurements. You can reduce the length of both front and back bodice patterns or just the front one. It looks like this:

This type of adjustment of the pattern requires changes in the sleeve pattern detail, too.

  • If you shorten both front and back bodice pieces, make sure to shorten the sleeve at the same height as the bodice.
  • If you shorten only the front bodice, reduce the width of the sleeve on front side only. Remove the same inch/cm as you did on the bodice .changes-in-the-sleeve-pattern

These are the most common ways I use to alter a neckline in my work. Do you have another method that gives you good results? Please, share it. Or, if you have any questions or suggestions, drop me a line below.

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4 thoughts on “How to make a neckline smaller (or bigger)

  • Patti Teeters

    Thank you so much for these demonstrations. You have helped me out a lot with three t-shirts that have a deep scoop neck. I haven’t even worn them yet and I have had them for two years! The scoop was so low half my breasts/bra showed! I am 64 years old and I don’t need to show that cleavage. Ha Ha. You have been so helpful. God Bless.

    • Daniela Post author

      Hi, you can go trough this post and pick another way to do it, which would work better for you. If the neckline is wide all around, I usually prefer gathering, pleats or elastic. Sometimes I might prefer to add a wider banding tape or a tunnel with a ribbon. It depends very much on what you are dealing with. Hope this helps.