Online classes, necklines and fabric stains

I don’t have a new garment post today for you, just a few bits and bobs. I’ve spent a bit of time taking some Bluprint classes before they were no longer free on April 15. I took these two classes and really enjoyed them:

Both teachers were so much fun to get to know and I picked up a ton of pro tips. Jhoan especially inspired me to try drawing some of my own fashions and figuring out how to make them into pattern pieces. I really loved his custom croquis and want one of my own.


Lately my thoughts have also been on necklines.  I’ve posted about my various Sew Over It Molly tops and a recent Molly dress. All three had neckline issues whereby I thought the neckline could have been better if I just understood more about neckline construction in knits.

My first two were made per the pattern instructions, which called for the neckband being the same length as the neck opening — a 100% neckband. I thought both had some looseness and gaping (circled above). When I made the Molly dress, i wanted to tighten this up, but didn’t how to do it. I turned to two of my favorite YouTubers who had recently posted videos about knit necklines:

Claire at Penguin and Pear was making a t-shirt and suggested doing a neckband that was 80% of the length of the neck opening.  Johanna at The Last Stitch was also adding ribbing to a t-shirt and suggested 75% is the right percentage.

I decided on my Molly dress to go with the lesser of those, or 80% of the neckline. I did the math and cut a neckband piece at 80%. Then I calculated what percent of that should be the front of the neckband and what should be the back — the back is much shorter than the front and so needs less fabric.

I pinned it in four places around the neckline. At the serger, I was pulling like mad to get it to match up with the neck opening and thinking “This can’t be correct!” (And yet I pushed on!)

I was not happy with the result: a very puckered neckline.  Some of the puckers came out with pressing and others disappear when I’m wearing the dress, but of course I still shook my fists at the sky.  How could these smart ladies be wrong? Well, it turns out they’re not wrong.

I wrote to Karina from Lifting Pins and Needles in her Patreon — which I should have done to begin with — and she explained it all.

The Molly dress is a ponte de roma fabric — which is thick and structured. The 75-80% neckbands are for t-shirt ribbing and not a fabric like ponte!  The structure of the fabric, as well as the stretch, make a big difference in how long to cut the neckband.

This also explains why — if you want a neckline that fits — you need to double-check your pattern’s neckband piece and make sure it matches for your fabric. Then make adjustments to the neckband length depending on the stretch and structure of your fabric. I get it now!


When my classes were finished and my neckband questions answered, I got back to work on my second module. Specifically, a Blackwood Cardigan out of a soft sweater knit. I had planned to use an oatmeal-colored sweatering from Sewing Studio. When I pulled it out of my fabric drawer (yes, all my fabric fits in one little drawer!) it just didn’t look like a sweater to me. It’s a very smooth sweater-like fabric, but not really a sweater fabric. I have one other sweater fabric from Califabrics and it’s a very light, grey textured knit. I decided to use this one and began cutting out the pieces on the dining room table.

To my horror, I found a big, orange stain on the center back piece of my fabric. Yes, I was laying it out on the dining room table and no, I did not clean the table. Who knows what this is, but it didn’t come out with Oxy clean or even a Clorox bleach pen. As a last resort, I decided to color over it with a grey sharpie.


Believe it or not, this is an improvement. (I was just too upset to be bothered to take a photo of the original stain.)  I asked my husband Eric if it was noticeable and he said, “Yes. Absolutely.” But then he told me to try just sewing over it. Hmm. Yes, maybe a bar tack?


I only have half a spool of grey thread left (thanks, Global Pandemic) which was a bit too dark. If this was a lighter grey thread it would have worked like a champ. I’m happy enough for now with the very slight improvement and I’ve definitely added this to my toolbox. And will clean the dining room table in future.

Now back to constructing this sweater. Stay tuned! -rp