How to fix a t-shirt with a tight neckline

2 photos of a t shirt  before and after the neckline was altered

Got a t-shirt that you love but avoid wearing because the neckline is uncomfortably tight? I don’t know about you but I’ve never liked anything too tight up around my neck. I don’t wear polo neck jumpers (translation: turtle neck sweaters!) for that reason, i just don’t like that bunched up feeling.

I find some t-shirts tend to have a very high neckline, especially the unisex ones and you don’t always realise the fit is a bit off until you’ve made your purchase.

A simple way to lower the neckline of a T-shirt

I had just such an issue with this t-shirt. It’s a design I absolutely love, it’s from a local artist called CovKid and it’s of the baptistry window in Coventry cathedral. This stained glass window is my absolutely favourite bit of the new cathedral.

coventry cathedral baptistry window

A short bit of Coventry history, we had a rather lovely cathedral which was partially destroyed in the blitz during WW2. The ruins of the old cathedral remain (as seen in the film Nativity, it’s where they hold the play at the end) and a new cathedral was built adjoining the ruins. It’s very 60’s in style and not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s just old enough now to be moving into “stylishly retro” instead of just looking a bit old fashioned. It has lots of points of interest, if you ever get sent to Cov I do recommend a visit, and as I said the huge stained glass baptistry window on the right as you go in really is something special. Doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside, especially on a bright day, it’s stunning.

Anyway, back to my t-shirt with it’s tight neckline.

Different ideas to lower a T-shirt neckline

I love the design and the quality of the t-shirt is great but I just wasn’t picking it out to wear. Definitely a sign it needed a fix. If you want to change a t-shirt neckline these are your main options:

  • Just cut a new neckline and let the fabric roll.

Jersey fabric doesn’t fray very much so you could just cut it and go. I am a classy lady in her 50’s though ;-D and I thought maybe that was a bit too teenage for me!

  • Apply a new neckband.

You can buy lengths of neckband fabric called ribbing. You use it for cuffs on sweatshirts etc too. You would cut the neckline to the new shape and then sew in a new longer neckband. I didn’t do this either as my t shirt is black and you know how difficult it is to get the exact match for black fabric? Much harder than you’d think!

  • Use bias binding.

You could edge a newly cut neckline with bias binding. You’d have to find a bias binding that matched your t-shirt or maybe go for a contrast colour. A little more work but I think it would work really well.

  • Cut a new neckline and hem it.

This is the method I went for and I have to say, it’s easy and it worked out great.

Mark where you’d like your new neckline to go on your t shirt. It’s easier to mark where you want the bottom point to come to while you are wearing it, then take it off, lie in on a flat surface and mark the curve.

Cut just 1 cm above the neckline you want.

Fold a small hem and pin it round, gently easing the curve. Use lots of pins to hold it in place. Then stitch it using a matching thread and a very slight zig zag stitch on your machine. Very slight - almost the slightest you can without it being straight! This will hold the hem nicely but still allow the fabric a very slight stretch.

As you sew GO SLOWLY. It’s not a big sewing job so don’t rush it. Let the sewing machine feed the fabric through and be careful not to stretch or pull it as you sew. This will give you the nice flat smooth finish you are after. If you rush you will get puckers or twists or some bagginess which will spoil the look of your t-shirt. It’s a noticeable spot, right under your face so you don’t want any unevenness if you can help it.

A hem on a black t shirt

As you can see I only turned a single hem, I didn’t want to make it bulky. It’s holding up well so far but I will add a second line of stitching if it frays too much. As I said before though, jersey doesn’t fray much really so I think it will be ok.

I actually did this tiny alteration back in the summer. I wanted to wait and see how it washed and wore before I shared it here. I don’t want to be giving you all dud information now do I? I’ve washed it maybe 4 times now and it’s doing well. The neck line hasn’t sagged or bagged and it’s not frayed inside. I’m calling this a win!

Update: A reader messaged me on Pinterest and said when she tried this method all was well at first but her t-shirt neckline when baggy after washing. Maybe it depends on what the fabric? My t-shirt is a pretty substantial thick fabric, a softer one might not fair so well. As I said before I did wait and did quite a few washes on my T before I wrote this tutorial. You could try 2 rounds of stitching to make the neck more sturdy or sew/iron in some sort of seam stabilising tape if your t-shirt is thin or very soft. The reader who messaged me is going to add a line or 2 or shirring elastic into the narrow hem she made which also sounds like a great option.

2 photos of the same t shirt after the neckline has been lowered

Can I also just add that taking the exact same photo from the same angle several months apart is not easy!! This is the closest I could get. I put my hair up so you can see the neck of the t-shirt properly. Have to say I’m not completely loving this many close ups of my neck either but what can you do?!

So there you have it, a really simple way to alter the neckline of a favourite t-shirt. I don’t think this would work for a v neck, you would find a nice sharp V difficult to do using this method. You’d be better to use a bias binding in that case. But for a rounded neckline this has been ideal. I’m pretty sure I have a few more t-shirts that I rarely wear for this exact same reason. Now that this easy fix is tried and tested I’m going to dig them out and give them a makeover too.

Do you have an underworn t-shirt that you just don’t pick in the mornings because you know the neckline is a little too tight? Why not give this simple fix a try?


I’ll be sharing this idea at some of these link ups