Today, I have a tutorial that’s been requested several times: how to sew the V neck on the Renfrew Top. This is the most requested tutorial we haven’t done yet, so here it is!
In the pattern instructions, this is Sewing Step 4 and 5. I’m going to break it down in detail and show you how to sew the V-neck band with tidy results. I even made a little video to show part of the neckband construction in 3D!
- your Renfrew top front and back, sewn together at the shoulders but left open at the side seams
- your neckband piece for View B
- pins, scissors, thread, sewing machine
Some tips before starting:
- Our sample looks really nice because of the stripe placement. Here are some tips for cutting out your neckband on a stripe, including the band for the V-neck version.
- It’s important to sew your shoulder seam allowances accurately. If you sew too narrow of a seam allowance, your neckband will be smaller than the finished neckline. If you take too much seam allowance, your neckband will be larger than the opening. It’s only two seams, but it does matter!
- Make sure all your notches are marked on the neckband piece. A small snip into the seam allowance (1/8″ or 3mm) is my preferred method.
- Read the whole post first, before beginning your project! I talk about options and alternate methods a bit so you may want to choose the approach you like best.
Let’s go! First, sew the neckband seam between the notches, right sides together, with a 5/8″ (1.5cm) seam allowance.
If you like, draw in the stitching line before you start so you have a guideline to follow. I used a regular pencil to draw in the line.
What’s important here is to only sew the seam between the notches, not from edge to edge. You’re starting 5/8″ (1.5cm) in from the edge, pivoting at the centre, and stopping 5/8″ (1.5cm) from the other edge. For the scoop neck version you do sew the seam edge to edge, but not on this one. Doing this makes it easier to sew the neckband to the neckline.
Clip at the centre of ‘V,’ making sure not to cut your stitching. This is in the instructions, but read the entire post first, as in the video later on I show what happens if you don’t clip.
Trim your seam allowance. An easy way to trim is to cut your seam allowances in half, so when you’re trimming, aim down the middle of your seam allowance. If you prefer specific numbers, trim your seam allowance to approximately 1/4″ (6mm.)
Press that seam open, and fold band lengthwise so the right sides are out and the wrong sides are against each other.
Note: You might notice that my band in this demo has an extra seam at the centre back as I was short on fabric. I’ve tried to hide it in most of the photos. Your band will only have one seam and that seam goes at the center front.
Another note: the shirt in this demo is a little half-shirt, your shirt will look longer!
When I was writing this tutorial, I was taking photos of the part where you turn the V-neck seam into the V-neck band… and made a little video! Does this help to visualize what is happening?
(This is my first time making a video, uploading it and embedding it into a blog post. I’d love to hear if it works or doesn’t work for you, and if seeing the three-dimensional piece in action is super helpful or only mildly interesting!)
If you follow this folding step, you can skip the clipping step. I’d still trim the seam allowances to reduce bulk, so you don’t get a faint outline of seam allowance through the band when you press it. Neat eh? The next step suggests that you baste the raw edges together. You don’t have to, I skipped it on this demo, but if you find your fabric rolls a lot or slips, basting them will keep the two edges in line with each other.
Now, we’ll pin our band into the neck opening!
Lining up the Neck Band:
- Double Notch goes at Back
- Seam goes at Front
- Single Notches line up with shoulder seams
The most important part of this step is the center front. Clip the body at centre front. Spread open the clipped body to match the neck band.
Here’s what it looks like from the other side. Spread the slash nice and wide, so the raw edges of the neckline line up with the raw edges of the band.
Once it’s pinned in place, sew the neck band to the body! I like to start at one shoulder or centre back but it doesn’t make a huge difference.
I sewed with the body side up, not the neckband side. This helps make sure the slash at centre front is where it should be. Because I’ve cut the neckband along the stripe line, I know it should work out well. You could also flip over the garment once the V-neck part is done and sew from the band side, so the stripe is even all around the neckline.
Pivot at the centre of the V with your needle down, lifting the presser foot to turn your work. Most important and tricky to demonstrate step of them all. You want to sew right to the middle of the slash, right to the middle of centre front on your shirt body. Make sure not to catch any extra folds of fabric.
This is a great example as my stitching isn’t perfectly centred. (I did it for educational purposes.) If this happens, simply sew again to even it out.
Trim and finish seam allowances. It’s not necessary to finish them, but it’s a nice clean look if you serge and trim the seam allowances in one step.
Press the seam towards the body, away from the neck opening. I like to press mine lightly, just to flatten everything out nicely.
Zigzag around the entire neckline, on the body side of the band. This secures the seam allowances in place. I like this step because it keeps the seam allowance from flipping outwards around the neck.
Pivot with the needle down when you reach the V point. I pivot when the needle is on the outer side, away from the neckband, so when I turn my work it’s ready to zag back in towards the band.
Test your zigzag stitching on a scrap to decide on the stitch width and length. I use a very small, very narrow zigzag on the original samples so it’s not an obvious zig and zag. In this demo I used a 2.0 width and a 1.5 length.
Some people have mentioned they don’t like the look of the zigzag stitching. If you really dislike the look, you could skip it, but then your neck seam allowance may flip outwards. Up to you!
That’s it! It’s only a little bit more complicated than sewing the scoop neck band.
Here are more blog posts about the Renfrew Top. (Get the pattern here.)
- A Big List of Tips for Sewing Knits!
- Three Tips for Sewing Stripes
- Introducing the Renfrew Top
- Sewing the Renfrew Top: What Would You Like to See?
- What’s a Stable Knit Fabric?
- Assembly-Line Cutting and Sewing
- Cutting Knit Fabric: Making Sure Your Project is Cut On-Grain
- Make Patterns Last Longer: Iron Interfacing to your Pattern Pieces
- Renfrew Top: Choosing which View to Make
- Thoughts on Cutting Knit Fabric
- Why Add Twill Tape to the Shoulders? Plus Possible Substitutions
- Seam Allowances on the Renfrew Top
- Approaches to Sewing Knits
- Sewing & Stabilizing the Shoulder Seams
- Renfrew Top: Finishing It Up! Sleeves & Bands
- Renfrew Top: That Tricky Cowl Collar
It’s nice to see things in photo format in addition to the black-and-white instruction diagrams. If you’re one of the many that asked about sewing the Renfrew V-neck, does this help clarify how it goes together?