Making a Round Neck
For a neat, round neck, a self-fabric, bound neck edge, 1/2 to 1 inch wide, is preferable. A cross grain strip of fabric works well for a singlelayer, wrap-around binding on medium-weight to thick fabrics, and for a double-layer French binding on lightweight knits. Since each fabric handles differently, tinker with the binding’s length to get a smooth finish. It should pull the neck edge in and lie flat against the body without puckering. Before cutting the band, try on the shirt. Nothing more will be done to the cut edge of the fabric on the neck before it is bound, so you can see whether the neckline needs to be drawn in, which is simple to do with the binding.
To calculate the width of the band, add three seam-allowance widths plus 1/2 inch (for the turn of the cloth and extra to catch in the final stitching). A 3:4 to 7:8 ratios between the length of the binding and neckline generally works well. For example, on a 20 inch long neckline, you might start with a binding of 15 to 17 inch depending on the stretchiness of the fabric. Adding 1/4 inch seam allowances, cut the neckband ends on a 45 degree angle to reduce bulk and stitch the ends to form a circle.
To clean-finish the inside of a single-layer neckband, it is handy to have a serge. But you can also pink the band’s remaining raw edge or turn it under before stitching in the ditch to secure. Positioning the band’s seam off-centre at the back, divide the neckline and band in quarters and mark with pins, snips or chalk. With right sides together, position the band on top of the neckline and stretching slightly, stitch the seam lines together, then press. Wrap the binding to the wrong side, press again, and try on the garment to check the neck fit and band width.
At this point, you can even out the seam-allowance width, but never grade or clip the seam allowance, which will weaken the seam and cause distortion.
On a double-layer binding, cut the binding wider than necessary, since folding and pressing will make it uneven. Then fold the binding in half, wrong sides together, press and trim it to the length and width needed. After joining the ends at a 45-degree angle, stitch the raw edges to the neckline, as above. The folded edge will wrap to the wrong side and be caught in the ditchstitching for a clean finish.
For T-shirts, it is preferable to use a small, smooth shoulder pad covered with fusible tricot. You can either sew the pads in place by hand or attach them with strips of soft hook-and-loop tape. Finally, it is better for you not to think of a T-shirt as a throwaway fitted garment. Fitted and constructed carefully from a beautiful fabric, it can be a valued piece in your wardrobe.