Tag Archives: heirloom

How To Change A Neckline Tutorial

Like so many seamstresses, I have a plethora of patterns that I have secured over many years of sewing.  My sewing is primarily for children and mostly for girls.  Styles change, but the basic lines of classic styles don’t change much.  Most changes are seen in the size/style of collars and sleeves.  Dresses in the 50’s sported sweet tiny collars and small sleeves while the 90’s had large collars and huge sleeves.  I’m pretty sure that a beach ball could have been stored in some of those sleeves!  LOL!

One of the more significant changes that I’ve observed  recently has been in the comfort factor of children’s clothing.  Most children are used to the comfort of knit clothing.  The result of that is that children find anything with a true neckline to be uncomfortable and it is perceived as too tight.  This became obvious when I gave dresses that our youngest daughter wore to the granddaughter’s to wear – the classic style would still work, but they said that the neckline was too tight.  Children’s necks have not gotten larger, they have become used to less constrictive clothing.  I believe that this has also resulted in seeing fewer collars on the dresses that the little girls are wearing.

With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to share ways to adjust the neckline of a dress/blouse.  While it is a very simple process, many find alterations of this kind to be intimidating.

The first thing that should be done is to trace the bodice front and back pieces of the garment on paper so that the original is preserved.  Once the bodice is traced, remove the seam allowance and cut the pattern pieces at the finished neck – shown in blue.

Once the seam allowance has been trimmed away, the neckline can be redrawn to whatever shape is desired.  Decide on how much to remove from the neckline.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same from front to back, though it can be done that way if desired.  The following drawing shows the neckline only slightly lower in the back but gradually increasing at the front (shown in pink).  It is imperative that the amount removed at the shoulder seam is EXACTLY the same on both the front and the back bodices – shown with the green arrows.  Once the neckline looks good to you, remove the excess paper beyond the  newly drawn line (pink).

Double check the new neckline by placing the front and the back bodices together at the shoulder seam (pieces will overlap) and ensuring that they align.  Remember that some patterns allow a little ease in the back shoulder seam while others don’t.  Check the original pattern pieces to see if the shoulder seams on front and back are an exact match – if they are, then they should also be an exact match with the neckline alterations.

Now it is time to decide on how the neckline will be finished.  If a bias band will be applied around the neckline, then the pattern is ready to use just as it is.  The finished neckline will be covered with the bias band.

If a plain neckline, piped neckline, or collar is desired, then a seam allowance needs to be added to the neckline edge on both the front and the back bodice pieces.  A 1/4″ seam allowance is a good choice for a neckline seam allowance.  You can add up to 3/8″ for a seam allowance, but more than that is undesirable.

I have been leaving collars off most dresses I make, however, if a collar is desired, it can be drafted at this point.

Don’t feel limited to limit the neckline change to just lowering the neckline slightly, try some other neckline adjustments and have fun with them.  There’s no limit to what can be done – a lower, scooped neckline, a sweetheart neckline, a square neckline, etc.  If you don’t feel confident in the redrafted neckline, test the newly designed bodices with a muslin or some scrap fabric and try it on the child to ensure that the new neckline is pleasing.  Cutting and stitching up a bodice take much fabric or time.  It is better to test it out and ensure that all was done correctly and the finished results are pleasing rather than to being disappointed with the results of the finished garment.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider pulling out some of the patterns that aren’t being used because of the dated styles and getting creative with some simple pattern redrafting!  Of course, adding your own heirloom touches will make it special!

Easter will be here soon – it’s time to get started!

Keep on stitching!!!!




Two New Dresses!!!

I’ve been busy the last couple weeks with designing and then sewing two new dresses.  I love the entire process and am really happy with the end results!

I had a vision for what I wanted to make, sketched it out on the computer, and then set it aside for a few weeks months.  When it finally came down to sewing, I relied on my stellar memory.  LOL!  That was a providential mistake.  I had the entire skirt constructed before pulling up the sketch.  At that point I realized that I’d made a different skirt than what I intended to make.  Hahaha!!!!  Oh well, in the end it was an opportunity to create 2 beautiful dresses – one is an easier to make dress, the other one a more challenging one.  So, I now have 2 dresses in 2 different sizes.

Dress #1 – the pretty mistake dress.  Because this was going to be my test sample dress, I made it out of Imperial batiste.  That alone makes this a dress that will get plenty of wear.  After rinsing out the blue wash out marker, then a light hand washing and time in the dryer (yes, I was impatiently waiting to photograph!), it only needed a slight touch of the iron before photographing!  Honestly, for wearing, I wouldn’t iron at all – I only did it for the photograph.

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I love madeira hem treatments and I love pinstitching wherever I can use it!  The shadow work embroidery is the icing on the cake for this dress.  🙂

Upon the completion of dress #1, I moved on to dress #2 – the sketched dress.  Dress #1 didn’t need any changes to the pattern or process, so this dress was made from heirloom fabrics – satin batiste!  That is such a beautiful fabric to work with and I love the sheen.  This is the hem and bodice treatment that I had sketched and planned to do the first time.  LOL!  It is equally beautiful, but definitely a bit more challenging to create.




I love everything about this dress as well!!!  It turned out exactly as I’d hoped.  Madeira hem, pinstitching, pintucks and a little hand embroidery – what’s not to love?!?!?!

Because there was already plenty of interest already in this dress, I kept the embroidery simple.  I think that was the right choice.  It also made it easier to get it finished once the dress was completed.

With the dresses finished, I’ve been hard at work on the computer, getting the pattern pieces drafted on the computer rather than my usual hand drafting.  I’m much slower at doing it on the computer, but I love the results, so I’m sticking with it.  I know I’ll be happy when all the bits are finished.  It’s going to take a while.  I have Claire Meldrum to thank for her patience in teaching me how to use Illustrator several years ago.  She has written the best tutorial on graphing smocking designs in Illustrator.

So, now you know why I’ve been away from blogging.

What’s next?  Perhaps some summer sewing for the little ones…..

Meet The New Girl ….

I’m still around – sewing, designing and such.  There’s always something going on in the sewing room and the drawing board.  This weekend I managed to get 3 Christmas a-line dresses made for the little girls.  I’ll work on the matching little brother outfit soon.

The dresses are all made from the Chez Ami twill fabric, bought when they were getting rid of a lot of fabrics.  It has  a bit of spandex.  Not my favorite to work with, but I loved the weight of the fabric and the colors.   I have the same large gingham in a royal blue/light blue combination for the little brother outfits.  I love when that all works out!  Before you’re too impressed, I have to let you know that the smocked inserts were purchased.  I didn’t make them!  They sure are cute though!  Of course, the dresses are the Children’s Corner “Lucy” – my go to pattern.


Do you see the new girl???   I scored big with this purchase and am so excited about it!!!  I happened to be on Craig’s List this past weekend and imagine my surprise when I saw a Wolf size 5 dress fitting mannequin listed for sale.  I’d love to own an Alvanon professional fitting form, but that definitely isn’t in my budget.  So, this was the next best option.  I was a bit skeptical about completing the purchase – you hear some pretty scary stories about purchases that are scams.  But, the form was being held at a bait and tackle shop.  She was quite out of her element there.  I’m sure that she will be much happier here!  Honestly, it looks practically new.  Sadly, the arm wasn’t with the form, but I took her anyway.

Other exciting news is the smocking design that I’ll have in the new Classic Sewing Magazine that is scheduled to come out in December.  You’ll definitely want to subscribe to this magazine!  It promised to be a beautiful magazine dedicated to quality heirloom and classic sewing with many favorite designers included.  Signing up now also will allow you to get in on the beautiful machine embroidery monogram design that they are giving to subscribers.  It’s beautiful!  Here’s a sneak peek of the dress…


You’ll have to wait for the magazine to see the rest of it!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to this last week.  Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?