How to Fix a Low Neckline with a Shoulder Seam


Last month I showed y’all how to fix a low neckline with a pleat.  Today I’ll show you how to do it by adding a shoulder seam.  The method you use really depends on the shirt you’re trying to alter.  I’ll discuss how to decide what method to use & finishing seams on knit material.  This tutorial involves basic stitches on a sewing machine, but it could be done by hand.  I’m planning on doing a post on “clothing alterations” about once a month.  If y’all have any special requests, please let me know!  : )

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission if you buy something through my link or ad.  This does not change your cost it just helps keep this blog running.  Thanks for your support!  See Privacy Policy & Affiliate Deals page for more information.

Some things to consider before adding a seam to fix a low neckline:

  • A sleeveless top works best for this.  A top with sleeves requires some other considerations & I’ll address this in a different post.
  • A longer top also works better.  When you take up fabric in the shoulder seam it will raise the hemline.  This can be a bonus for a top that’s too long as well!
  • Measure twice & cut once!  Make sure you try on the top throughout the process before cutting off the excess.

Pinning the New Seam

I bought this shirt on clearance at Sam’s Club for about $3.  Like most tops I buy, the neckline is just too low!  I have to buy a large or x-large to make sure things fit over my hips & through the shoulders.  Since my bust is on the small side, I usually wind up with this problem!

For this method, I’m turning my shirt inside out.  This way I can pin what I want to change & be ready to mark & sew when I take off the shirt.  This can be awkward to do by yourself, so if you have some extra hands hanging out, ask for help!  I also use clips whenever possible to avoid stabbing myself with pins.  : )

Once you have the shoulders pinned, take off the shirt, being careful to not bump pins or clips.  Lay the top on a flat surface to see how it looks.

As you can see, my clips are not the same distance from the top edge.  That’s okay because I know I have sloping shoulders.  Let’s take some measurements to see what that difference is.

One side is about 1 3/4″ and the other side is….

About 2″.  Note that I’m measuring to the bottom of the clip because that’s where the seam will be.  That means I’m taking off around 4″ in the shoulder seam.  It also means I have about a 1/4″ slope to my shoulders.  That may not seem like much, but it sure does affect my bra strap staying up!

{Side note:  If you have “bra strap falling-itis” like I do, try a bra with a U-shaped back or the straps kick in towards the center.  Check out this article from The Fairy Bra Mother for a better picture!}

Marking for Sewing

I used tailor’s chalk to mark a point at the bottom of each clip then connected them with a straight edge.  I’m pinning above the mark to make sure things stay aligned.  Now is a good time to try on the top again and make any adjustments.

I will sew one shoulder seam and lay the shirt back out before sewing the other side.  If your shirt is knit or stretchy, be sure to use a ball point needle.

I folded the shirt in half, aligning edges & seam lines.  This just helps keep things even & hang correctly.

Mark the edges to match the sewn seam.

Once both sides are sewn down, try on the top again.  Make any changes necessary, then cut off the excess!

This top has an embroidered/crocheted detail at the shoulder, so it will fray at the edges.  Most knits will be fine with a raw edge because they don’t fray.  I’m going to use a stretch zig-zag stitch {#05} on the edges of this seam to keep things from coming unraveled.

You can also use a regular zig-zag stitch or a serger for knits.  If your machine only does straight line stitching, you can add an extra line or two past the seam line to help hold things down.  Here’s my finished seam ~>

I just pressed the seam to the back, but you may want to tack down the ends by hand to keep it in place.

This is much better!

Here’s a side by side comparison ~>

Now I don’t have to worry about flashing someone!  ; )  Remember, if you have a particular wardrobe problem you’d like me to cover, just let me know in the comments!

Bernie over at Needle & Foot is hosting a Summer Sew Along for making a basic blouse.  Although I’m an experienced sewer, I’ve joined in because it’s more fun to sew with others!  This is a great way to meet fellow sewers, see what others make, & share tips & advice.  Also, I’m determined to have more me-made items in my closet by the end of the year.  I thought y’all might like to check it out too!

P.S.  Today’s the LAST DAY to get the Ultimate Work at Home Bundle so don’t forget to check it out!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply