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plunging necklines

JenniferArmentrout | Posted in Fitting on

I’m currently working as a patternmaker for a design company of and have run into the problem of plunging necklines.  I would like the style of the neckline to remain open, free of hooks or buttons… but of course I am running into the problem of it gaping open.  Does anyone have any ideas or solutions?  The neckline is approx. one inch wide and ends two inches above the natural waist.  I already tried interfacing around the neckline but I am still experiencing gaping.  The fabric will be a stretch cotton.


  1. stitchmd | | #1

    You can use the ease-plus, aka crowding technique. This involves holding your finger behind the presser foot to slow the fabric's progress. It makes the needle bite more fabric per stitch and slightly gathers the edge. Another way is to insert clear elastic in the front seam if you are using a facing or front folded over edge.

    1. JenniferArmentrout | | #2

      Thanks so much for the information.  I never thought about elastic...does it matter what width?

      1. kjp | | #3

        Elastic is my favorite treatment for plunging necklines.  I like the 1/4" or 3/8" clear elastic cut slightly shorter than the neckline and serged, then folded over and topstitched.  I have also used fusible bias tape to stabilize the neckline.  This also works very well, again, cut slightly smaller than the neckline and stretch as  you fuse.  I prefer the bias tape for a more stable fabric and the elastic for stretch fabrics. 

        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #4

          Since I'm using a stretch cotton I think elastic sounds like the best choice for me.  Do you just usually get yours at a fabric store?  I know that sounds weird, I just don't think I've ever seen clear elastic at the usual stores I visit.  Do you, or anyone, know of a good online wholesaler?  Thanks again for all the advice.  This is my first day on this forum and I absolutely love it.  The advice is great and I like that every question has a handful of answers.

          1. kjp | | #6

            I don't have my packaging, but I believe the brand I use is stretch-rite.  I don't know of a wholesaler for it, but I have found it in the notions dept. of my local fabric store.  Check online! 

            Also, if you are using a stretch woven cotton, you may be happier with the tape - bias will still give it some stretch.  For a knit, I'd go with elastic.  I believe there are some other elastics that may serve the same purpose.  Just make sure they are sew through and lightweight. 

          2. JenniferArmentrout | | #8


            thanks again for all the information.  I found the elastic at both the local fabric stores I frequent so I guess I had just been looking over it before.  I'm actually going to try this method out today so I'll let you know how it goes.

          3. mem1 | | #7

            Its actually swim wear elastic.Also there is a sight run by zoelee so goole that . She sells the approprateelastic . She suggests that you use a wide serger wdth . If you search this site for elastic in neck lines , you will find a blurb she wrote for me about a month ago on using the elastic in a neckline .

  2. mem1 | | #5

    there was an article in Threads about useing Tape as a stabilizer . The tape is shorter than the length of the neckline and the fabric of the neckline  is eased onto the tape with a million pins.. It is a method taught by Kliebacker but i havent used it myself.

    1. JenniferArmentrout | | #9

      Thanks, I'll check out the article if the elastic solution doesn't turn out the way I need it to.

      1. GALEY | | #10

        Welcome to our site!  I have been sewing for myself and others for 51 years and helpers on this site keep me current.  About the neckline, some vintage 50s clothes have necklines that are boned to keep their openings in place.  I have also substituted monofilament fishing line for lightweight boning--It comes in all weights, so experiment, experiment.  There is also a boning that looks like mesh and can be cut lengthwise.  This sounds like overkill, I know, but compare two layers of innerfacing plus two layers of fashion fabric, and that is a stiff proposition, too, and boning will drape slightly if thin enough.  Think of filament-edged ruffles and ribbons.  God bless you and I am excited about what we are going to learn from you!


        1. JenniferArmentrout | | #12

          Thank you so much for the insight.  Boning would work wonders on a neckline that I am drafting for a different shirt but I have a feeling that the neckline on this garment may be too open.  Thanks for the imput however.  I absolutely love vintage clothing and so I always love hearing about the special construction that was taken to make such timeless classics.God bless.

          1. Alexandra | | #13

            Also, you can tape it to the wearer with double sided tape.  That's a Hollywood tip.

        2. mem1 | | #14

          Galey i would love to know more about useing fishing line instead of boning Can you elaborate?

          1. GALEY | | #15

            I have usually used the kind of boning that is a 1/4" wide strip of plastic and comes in a fabric sleeve that can be sewn to whatever you are making.  Also, it can be removed from the sleeve and inserted into a casing made from sewing the seam allowances together or any kind of casing.  While reflecting on that I began to consider other items that could be used to stiffen or stabilize an edge, keeping in mind the same laundry requirements as the boning.   Remember, I make costumes, home decor, formals, brides and bridesmaids gowns, etc.  Some of these are one-time wear garments and one has a lot of flexibility about how an effect is achieved, also sturdiness is frequently a requirement.   

            About products: monofilament fishing line comes in a lot of weights, from thread-thin to heavy; weedeater monofilament line is a good weight for holding up collars, etc; cool whip bowl lids can be cut to make a shirt collar stay;  the cushions on your furniture may have cording filled with a plastic cord that is available where you buy upholsterer's supplies.  The most common use I have seen for thin monofilament is in the edge of fluffy ruffles-zigzag over line while stretching and you have it.  Also, some little girl's dresses have a thicker product in the hem to produce a hoop effect, and of course you could use it in a soft petticoat where not so much stiffness is required--sort of like horsehair braid.  Note:  If you want to look at fishing line, some specialty sporting good stores sell it by the yard (they custom-wind it on reels) but if you ask for two or three yards they look at you funny!  I get mine from my husband.

            I hope this encourages you to search and experiment.  God bless you.  Galey

          2. Sunshine | | #16

            For a cheap, easy source of fishing line, go to your neighborhood WalMart!  It's in the sporting goods section, and comes in various weights.  I bought "12 lb test" for doing lettuce-edge ruffles - 700 yards was less than $3.  I also have "25 lb test" in a 190 yard spool that I use for gathering the traditional way ( zigzag over it, then pull the ends to gather. Guaranteed not to break while pulling, and reusable too!).  I'm sure they have heavier/thicker fishing line available also, but I haven't looked for it.  An entire spool will cost $2-$4, with the length depending on the thickness.  You might also try using 2 or 3 strands together to achieve the look you want, especially if you can't find a really heavy line. 

            Good luck "fishing" for just the right look!!  ;-)

    2. SewNancy | | #11

      I have used this and it works like a charm.  You have to use lots of pins! 


  3. Ralphetta | | #17

    This wouldn't work for one that low, but for some, I've attached a loop (like for lingerie straps)attached inside at the base of the V and slipped it around the bra front.   It prevents the neck from pulling away from the body when you lean over.

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