Tailoring the neckline of patterns

I’ve had a lot of students ask about how to change the necklines on their patterns, so I thought i’d create a little tutorial for you.

The biggest issue, is that any changes you make to the neck, need to also be applied to the facing. Personally, i adjust the neckline and then re-cut a new facing pattern piece, so that’s what I’m gonna show you. The only time I wouldn’t do this, is if the neckline adjustment is very slight. In that instance, I’d apply the same adjustment to the original facing pattern piece.

Lowered neckline


In this image, you can see the original neckline which I felt was too high, and the new lower neckline I’ve drawn in once I’d tried it on and decided to lower it.


It’s really important that all new adjustments blend smoothly across any seams. I’ve laid the back shoulder next to the front shoulder to check that the new curve from the front blends smoothly into the original curve.

Blending the front to the back
Adjusting the facing

Once the main pattern piece has been adjusted, you’ll need to adjust the facing. In my example, I’ve only adjusted the front of the pattern, so it’s just the front facing pattern piece that needs to be adjusted. I’ve laid the facing over the adjusted front piece, and it’s now obvious that the front of the facing is now very short. Take a note of the facing depth at the shoulders, as this is how deep you’ll need to make the facing all the way around.

Trace the shoulder and new neckline onto a fresh piece of pattern/tracing paper. Then draw the outer edge of the facing piece, making sure it’s the same distance from the new neckline all the way around the piece.

new facing pattern piece
finished alterations



Now both the front of the pattern and the new facing pattern have been adjusted with the new lower neckline. The shape of the alteration can be curved like this example, or could be a V shape too, in both options the principles are the same when you want to make an adjustment.

Ok, so in my first example the alteration didn’t change the shoulder at all, therefore the back neck wasn’t affected. But what happens if you need to “widen” the neckline as well as altering the shape or lowering it I hear you ask?

Good question… Read on and discover how to do this type of neck adjustment.



I’ve re-drawn my new neckline, which has really widened the opening and shortened the length of the shoulder.

widening the neckline
curving the new back neckline

Making sure to start at the same position on the back shoulder, re-draw a new back neckline. The shoulders should now be the same length. The curve should look smooth on the new back neckline. Make sure the junction at the shoulder isn’t too much of a point or spike!

Make a facing pattern for both the back and front using the same process I described in the previous example. It’s a good idea to give yourself some notches to help sew the pieces together.

back and front facing pieces

Happy Stitching:)

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  • Ditto Fabrics

    30.08.2016 at 16:35

    Really good tutorial Claire. This is a question that people ask me so frequently in the shop.

  • phyllis

    20.09.2015 at 20:15

    im usining a pattern from new look 6643 you explain really good as ive lowered the neck line half an inch and have done my facings to fit my question is the shoulders look to far even though I followed your guide lines cheers phyllis

  • Peta Graham

    02.05.2015 at 00:27

    Thank you, thank you and thank you again.