You can do it! Embellished Neckline


After getting this book for Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to try out the patterns. So I bought some stretch needles (not ballpoint; I was specifically informed by the experienced women at my sewing center that stretch is better for fleece and jersey) and some super-stretchy aqua jersey and made the basic t-shirt to get started.

It was so boring I wanted to die. Don’t get me wrong, for the beginner sewist, I’m sure making a t-shirt is a triumph. However, when you can buy one for $5 at the Gap it’s hardly worth the effort unless it’s going to look awesome. So I ruffled it up and I really like the result. And the best thing is, you could do this with any old t-shirt and some knit fabric. Here’s how for those of you who are interested:

1. Prepare the t-shirt: If you like the current neckline, leave it. Otherwise cut out the neck band. Try it on. If you want more of a scoop-neck, cut a little more off. Be careful here — remember that you can always take more off, but never add more on.

2. (Skip this if you left the neckband intact) Stay-stitch 1/2″ from the edge of your new neckline. That means use a long, straight stitch to stabilize your fabric. No folding here. This will prevent the neck from getting too stretched out when you sew on the ruffle. If you have really stretchy jersey, iron on a strip of stabilizer (fusible interfacing) along the inside of the neckline (wrong side of fabric) before you stay-stitch.

3. Cut a few strips of knit fabric 1″ wide as long as possible. This will be your ruffle strip and should not be cut on the bias. I think I cut about 2 yards and maybe used only 1.5 (?).

4. Sew the ruffle strip directly onto the shirt using a wide, long zig-zag stitch
Here are some guidelines:

  • Start at the top left shoulder, folding the first edge under
  • Line up the ruffle so it sticks out over the neckline a little, but not much.
  • Sew down the center of the strip, stuffing it under the presser foot as you go; this will create the ruffles.
  • Stay in the middle of the ruffle if possible, but slight variations will look good too, so don’t sweat this part. Just don’t go off the edge.
  • If your first strip runs out, just cover it up with the folded edge of the new strip and keep going.
  • I went all the way around, but it would be cute just to do a small part too. Like this tank at JCrew.

To create the flowers, I took a piece of fabric about 3″x6″, scalloped the edge, gathered it with a needle and thread, and sewed it on underneath the ruffle at random spots.


Happy Sewing!

15 thoughts on “You can do it! Embellished Neckline

  1. How fun! I can’t quite picture stuffing all that fabric under my presser foot, I’ll have to give it a try! This would be a cute way to embellish a button up shirt, too, or a baby kimono!

  2. It’s very “Anthropologie”-like. They have a yellow sleeveless number that I have been admiring and your ruffling is very similar. Thanks for the tute! This technique will save me quite a bit of money when I go to copy the shirt.

  3. You are fab! Pretty soon I am not going to have to go shopping at Anthropologie anymore. I will be able to make it all myself…compliments of Rae. Thanks for the super adorable ideas!

  4. This looks great! I think this is the first tee-shirt alteration I’ve ever seen that I actually want to make for myself. I have such a boring wardrobe. Time to start injecting some fun!

  5. Ha! I found it. I KNEW I had seen a tute for these great collars that are ALL the rage right now…I should have known a google search would lead me back to you. ;-) I'm bookmarking it this time!!

  6. It's soo pretty. Can't wait to try it. You made me always want to sew ^^. I wish you could put some pictures along with the explanation, i wonder if i have to make the ruffle first before i embellish it or the "stuffing all that fabric under my presser foot" means make the ruffle at the same time with sewing it to the neck opening.

  7. Love this idea, and you can just go on and on with creative ways to use the technique! I had seen similar stuff in the mall, but didn’t want to pay the price, and kept thinking I could do it myself. I may try it by hand first, as I really prefer handwork.

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