How to lower a neckline

How to Lower a Neckline

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You’re probably here to find out about how to lower a neckline on a shirt or dress you are making or have made or even want to change on a store bought garment.

Lowering a neckline on a knit garment is actually really simple. It’s easier with a French curve, but not necessary.

I’ve made necklines lower in the past for preference purposes, as well as for nursing access after I had my last baby. It’s actually easier than it sounds. You can lower a neckline as you are cutting out a garment, or lower one after you have the shoulder seams sewn.

How to Lower a Neckline – The Steps

1. Decide how much lower you want your neckline to be. Maybe you just want it dropped an inch, or maybe you need three inches. I would suggest trying on the garment or holding up to your body and using a tape measurer to check where you want the neckline to be. 

2.  To make the cut, it’s best to use a rotary cutter and a healing mat. You could technically use scissors, but I would trace on the fabric with a fabric pen first so that its as straight as possible. 

To use a French curve : Lay a French curve on top of your folded bodice (folded the same way it was cut out. In half like a hot dog bun with the side seams together).

The bottom of the French curve should be lowered on the folded shirt the amount you want the neckline lowered. Then angle the French curve up so it aligns with the the edge of the original neckline (you don’t want to cut anymore into the top shoulder area unless you want more of a boat neck).

You can weigh the French curve down with pattern weights so that it won’t move. Then trace the line for scissors or use a rotary cutter to cut along the French curve.

Alternatively, without a French curve, you can eyeball this curve. I did this many times without a French curve. Start cutting below the bottom of the existing neckline by the amount you want the neckline lowered. Then, just follow the existing neckline curve but begin to shave off less toward the shoulder until you are not cutting anything at the shoulder seam point.  

3. After you have made the cut, fold out the shirt and check to make sure you like the look of the neckline. If you want it lower, cut a bit more out. If it’s scary to just cut it, feel free to use a fabric marker first. 


4. Sew shoulder seams if you haven’t already. Next you need to measure the new hole you made to find the length of the neckband. So, measure all the way around with a flexible tape measurer (or fold it in half, measure that, and double it). 

5. Take the measurement around the neck and times it by .8 to .85 to get 80% to 85% of the full measurement (see note below to know what percentage to use). This is your neckband length.

(Neck-hole measurement) x .(80 or .85) = Neckband length
  • Note – Neckband widths are usually 1.5″ – 2″.  The variation in percentage is there due to neckband width and stretch of the fabric you’re using. A wider neckline needs a shorter length. A greater stretch percentage in your fabric needs a shorter neckband. For example, if you’re using DBP, I would use 80% of the length. For hard to stretch cotton spandex (or fabric with tight recovery), you might use 85%. 

    6. Attach your new neckband by first sewing the short ends of the neckband right sides together, then folding wrong sides together. Quarter the neck hole and neckband then pin or clip the neckband onto the neck hole right sides together aligning the seam in the neckband with the back of the garment. Sew with a stretch stitch or sew the neckband onto the garment. See Graphic below for help with this part or see my post HERE on how to attach a neckband to a garment.

An Example

Below a neckline that was supposed to be a turtleneck pattern (the George and Ginger Posh Top). I lowered the neckline with the exact technique I outlined above. You can see that blog post HERE.


Let me know if you have any questions by popping them into the comments below or you can find me on instagram at

Happy Sewing!

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