Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fitting Tutorial: Removing Neck Gape

One of the problems I face with many patterns is neck gape on commercial patterns. It can be on the front, on the back, or even both. Some people might ask, "Well did you choose your pattern by your high bust measurement?" Yes, I did. My high bust measurement is about 34" which is a size 12 Big 4 pattern (McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity, and Vogue). My front width measurement also corresponds to a size 12 as per Nancy Ziemen's recommendation for pattern size in her book Fitting Finesse.

So why do I get neck gape? I think it's because of my narrow shoulders and hollow chest, paired with my full C-cup bust. A logical solution for many people is simply to drop down a pattern size and perform an FBA (full bust adjustment) and adjustments further down. For some reason, there is a negative association with altering the neck and shoulders, and IMO, it really is one of the easiest places to alter a pattern with many styles. It's simply the way I prefer to alter patterns for my figure, although it seems contrary to what most will recommend.

Therefore, when I buy sewing patterns, even though I use the correct size for my figure, I often end up with neck gape. This is quite an annoying problem, yet such an easy and simple fix.

I am going to show you two (I have three total however) methods today that I use to remove neck gape on patterns. The first is VERY simple, the second is a little more work, but targets the exact area. I don't use one exclusively, it really depends on the pattern and how much gape needs to be removed. If it is small amount and depending on the pattern style, I use the No. 1. If the amount to be removed is more than a 1/2", I use the second method.

The two methods are:

1. Shifting the pattern's center front

2. Dart and Tranfer



Here is a miniature sample of a pattern front with the bust apex marked as a dot. The pink construction paper is the "pseudo" fabric. The pattern's center front (CF) is placed on the fold.

Let's say I have a small amount of neck gape that I want to remove, not more than a 1/2". What I'm going to do is shift the top, CF of the pattern over to the right, off the fabric fold a 1/4". Yes, I did say a 1/4". Remember, this is only half the pattern. A 1/4" will actually be a 1/2" removed from the entire front neckline. The 1/4" shifted over to the right is illustrated in the picture below. Notice the fold of fabric under the pattern is marked with a broken line.

That broken line will now become the new CF. I will mark a new grainline marking and cut off the excess as shown below. This will complete Method 1, and very easy method to remove neck gape.



This method is a more precise method, targeting the exact area of the neck gape when it is more than a 1/2", and transferring that excess somewhere else. That "somewhere else" in my sample below is a bust dart, although it could be rotated anywhere on the bulging block (anywhere around the bust apex).

First, here is a picture of my sample pattern front:

Next, I draw two lines: one from the area of the neck gape to the bust apex, and one from the side seam to the bust apex as shown below.

After drawing these two lines, I cut them with a scissors *almost* to the bust apex, leaving a hinge of the pattern right at the bust apex. In the picture below, notice how I am lifting the upper piece that has been slashed on both lines. It doesn't lift up completely because of the "hinge" at the bust apex.

Now I will slide the lifted piece over to the right, let's say 5/8" inch for this example. This will remove a total of 1 1/4" of neck gape. Yeah, that would be a lot. But it happens sometimes. Notice in the picture below, when I shift top of the pattern over to the right to remove the gape, a new dart forms at the bust. OR...if you have an existing bust dart, it will make your existing dart bigger. The broken line represents the amount that is removed.

Next, I will true the neckline and fill in the new bust dart with tissue as shown below.

That completes Method 2.

Both are different methods that basically accomplish the same thing--removing that annoying gape. This method can also be used on the back bodice as well. I usually remove back neck gape and transfer it to a shoulder dart or convert it to a princess seam by transferring the neck gape excess to both a waist and shoulder dart combo.

Hope this helps in your quest to remove neck gape :) !


Linda said...

Thanks for sharing. I love both methods. I am a maverick alteration person too. I altered a pattern for that problem by shifting the neck edge over from the bottom of the armhole and over. The neck was too wide and therefore the shoulder was too far over too. I just for the heck of it moved the whole thing over. It made my front armhole wider by about only .375" of an inch, which come to find out I needed that much more width too! The pattern was a sleeveless top and was cutting into my arm when I brought it forward.

I'm all for what works. I don't care what the alteration police say. It is the fit that matters. I am saving these two methods for the next time I need this again.

Meg said...

Yes, thanks for this. I have problems with neck gaposis from time to time as well. This will come in handy, I'm sure.

Robin said...

Thanks for posting such an in-depth tutorial! I don't get the front gape, but I get the back one (maybe because of my broad upper back?) sometimes.

Alexandra said...

Thanks for the neat tutorial. I agree with Linda, it's the fit that matters. I am a big fan of the Whatever Works method.

Cennetta said...

Great tutorial, Kat. I run into this problem often when making FBA.

Sigrid said...

Very clear. Thank you for the describing the two methods so clearly.

Anonymous said...

I've made serious use of that first method (redraw the center line) since I took the time to compare some Hot Patterns designs with a custom Wild Ginger Pattern Master Boutique version of a similar design. That's when I realized that HP patterns can be adjusted much more easily for me and my daughter if I redraw that center line. The narrower upper chest and neck width fixes the most frustrating fitting problems (the ones that can't be retro-fitted) without altering the size of the armhole and waistline. -Karla

angie.a said...

Ooh, Kat thanks for sharing! I have this problem in the back neck ALL the time with fitted bodice type patterns. I usually use your Method 1, but I do have to remove in excess of 1" alot. So maybe I should try method 2 and rotate to a shoulder dart.

I'm curious about Method 3 though... You gonna share??

Linda said...

This was most helpful. I have bookmarked this as I am familiar with method 1 but not so with method 2.

HeathersSphere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juliette Esper said...

gtreat tutorial, I would like to feature it on my Sewing and Style blog

Anonymous said...

This is great. Thank you for showing this in such detail. I have a question: How would I do this if I have to take more than a half inch from the back neck? I tried doing an "L" cut(like for a narrow shoulder adjustment) from the neck, down about 4 inches, over to center back. After folding out at the neck, the center was no longer straight at the top and this garment was cut on a fold. How would I take care of this on the back since I can't rotate to an armhole dart and straighted up the top center back?

Jean C said...

I am so glad I found this!
Being an impatient sewist, I don't like to make true muslins, so I start out making a garment with one of the many fabrics in my "stash" - if it turns out great, I can wear it; if not, I haven't wasted the good stuff.
After trying 3 different patterns without any alterations, I now have 3 tops with a pleat in the center front of my chest!
While it actually doesn't look bad at all, I don't especially want every garment I make to have that pleat!
Now I can adjust the pattern and finally use the good fabric !

Anonymous said...

I just read this .It will help me a lot .Thanks a lot.

Helga said...

Thank you! :-)))

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this. Your instructions are clear, and the images support them really well. Perfect for all kinds of learners. I found the whole process completely painless and transparent! :)

One thing I do struggle with, however, is the idea of applying method #2 to the back. I just can't 'see' it in my mind'e eye, because the back has no breast apex. Would you be so kind as to describe (even better show), how this would be achieved, please?


Unknown said...

Just wanted to say that the images in the post appear to be broken...any way you could fix them? I'd really love to learn this technique! Thanks. (:

Sherrill said...

Pictures are not coming through. Great tutorial and I would love to see the pictures. I am built like you and am having the same problem with the gaping neck. You seem to have found a solution. Thanks. Sherrill

fabricKate said...

I have been doing no 1 but no 2 is probably better. I shall try it now. Thanks so much.

Fiona said...

Just found this - I am looking for a solution to a deep v-neck with gape, but will use one of your methods next time I make a rounded back top.

Janet said...

Six years later, this is still a terrific tutorial! I had open heart surgery and nothing has fit ever since due to gaposis--but am trying this now!

I am doing a dress which has a little lining all the way to the underarm--the lining pattern is identical in shape to the front and back pieces. So for this lining I'm just going to take the new adjusted piece I have and fold up the dart as if sewn, and than trace a dartless lining piece. I hope this works. If someone is monitoring this post at 12:01 on the fourth of July 2014 and I'm doing the wrong thing, I hope you give me a shoutout!!! Will cut in about half an hour. : )))

tiff said...

Thanks for this! Are you able to do either with a Princess Seam? Any advice for that one? thanks!

Unknown said...

Very informative tutorials, etc!

Do you also have a Facebook page?


Lorili Design, Inc.

Unknown said...

It is going to take method 2 for me, however I have a armhole dart. Wouldn't that leave me with two darts?

D said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you, thank you. !!!!!!!

KC said...

Thanks for your post. I just finished a top with a bit of neck gap and was mulling over the best way to alter the pattern for the next top. Method 1 should be perfect!

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