Well what do you know? The sun was shining on Sunday (as it is today, hurrah!!) so I ducked out to get a few daylight shots of this new Linden…I’ll preface this post by warning you that I meander into alot of theorising and calculating the length of the perfect neckband based on the stretch percentage of the fabric you use. So if that is likely to make your eyes roll back in your head….look away now, lol!

I cut down a size this time round and went for view B. The fit across the upper bust, neckline and shoulders turned out way better. I haven’t quite fathomed why there is so much excess at the hem and under the bust. Although to be fair I haven’t given it a great deal of thought because I’m not overly bothered. I suspect it’s a combination of the need for an FBA and perhaps that the ponte that I used has more drape (and stretch, which I’ll come to in a bit!) than the recommended sweatshirt fabric. No matter. I still love it and it’s worn as soon as it comes out of the drier. (Also, the folds are nowhere near as exaggerated IRL. I think perhaps the photo being taken in full sun ramped up the shadow and contrast somewhat!)

So…the fabric! It’s this beauuuuutiful ponte from Dragonfly fabrics in the Bark colourway. Now on special so probably won’t be around for long!. So.Freakin.Soft. What’s more, I was really taken with the contrasting RS and WS of this fabric and decided to play with that on this make…

Construction was as per pattern instructions…except as I said, I reversed the fabric on the front and back pieces so the body contrasted with the sleeves…

Oh…and I added a split hem band similar to my Maya top here…

Regular readers will perhaps remember that I raised the neckline on my Linden pattern as it sat a little too wide on me. You can read the simple “how to” on that adjustment here. But of course, adjusting the width of the neckline means you need to cut a new neckband piece because the circumference of the neckline has changed. As luck would have it the width of the pattern piece for the neckline band is more or less the same as my 2″ wide roll of masking tape. And you know how I love a bit of a masking tape cheat, lol!

So….all that remained was for me to establish the new circumference of the neckline and cut a new neckband piece to fit. Up until this point I’ve always just cut a neckband approx 2″ smaller than the circumference of the neckline. To varying degrees of success. Sometimes that would work pretty well. Sometimes not. So I decided to delve a little into the maths of the perfect knit neckline. Somewhere, and for the life of me I can’t find that post no, (**update: it’s here! Thanks Gillian!) I read about a slightly different way of measuring the neckline for a knit….

Instead of measuring the circumference, you take the total measurement between those 3 points above….and cut the neckband to that size. This made good sense to me so I though I’d give it a go. To give you an idea, the neckline circumference was 61cm. Measuring between those 3 points gave me a measurement of 52.5cm. So a difference of 8.5cm which is a little over 3″ shorter than the actual neckline (I usually cut about 2″ shorter so I was optimistic that shortening the band by that extra inch would yield an improvement)…

So….with my trusty roll of masking tape I marked out a strip 52.5cm long on my fabric (plus a small serger SA)…

Joined it, folded it, then marked the centre and side points…

And lined those up with the corresponding CF/CB and shoulder points on my neckline. So you can see the theory in practice here. The band should stretch to fill in those gaps and therefore turn the neckline in, so it lays flat once sewn. Awesome.

Now, it actually yielded a pretty good neckline! It lays perfectly in the front, but is a teeny bit baggy in the back neckline. Meaning the neckband was probably, among other things, still slightly too long. But seriously it’s miniscule, and doesn’t really warrant the geek out I’m about to embark on. But sometimes I just fall down a geeky rabbit hole and need to get it straight in my head. So…..I started ruminating on how I needed to tweak my technique and play with the math to establish the correct length of the neckband. I think I made an error on 2 fronts….

Referring back to that picture of my neckline I’ve now marked in those 3 points as A, B, and C. Now, when I marked the alignment points on the neckline band I just defaulted to CB/CF and crucially, put my shoulder alignment marks **midway** between those two points. But , (and this is where I think I went wrong) the distance from shoulder point to shoulder point, is **different** across the back neckline (A to B), than it is at the front neckline (A to C to B). So actually it’s not an even distribution of the neckband around the neckline, but a proportional one….

So what I’m thinking I should have done (and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this peops), is measure from A to B, and mark my shoulder points along the back neckline according to that measurement. However, moving those points back will mean more neckband length needs to be absorbed into the front neckline. And well….that’s no good because at the moment it’s sitting perfectly. Gah! Which means, actually it’s still too long. Which brings me onto the dreaded stretch percentage…

I actually don’t think there is a hard and fast formula/rule that will work on every project I suspect it’s a combination of factors….and stretch percentage HAS to be factored in. So I needed to work that out in order to try and reverse calculate what my perfect neckband length should have been, with stretch percentage taken into account…

What you’re looking at here is my metre rule, laid flat on my cutting table and butted up against a wall so it won’t go anywhere. A folded band of my fabric bulldog clipped to the end of my ruler.

I take hold of the fabric with my thumbnail at the 10cm mark…

Then stretch it along the ruler until I feel it reaching the limits of it’s stretch capacity, and note the number my thumbnail reaches. 15 in this case.

So, to calculate stretch percentage it’s the second measurement (15) divided by the first (10) then minus 1. Which in this instance is 0.5. Which means this fabric has a stretch percentage of 50%.

Now, here’s my theory, that I intend to test out on my next neckline. And again, I’d love your thoughts on this. Using the “triangle measurement” method I cut my neckband at 52.5cm. (Apologies for flitting between metric and imperial peops!) The actual circumference of my neckline was 61 cm. Same calculation as above (61/52.5)-1= 0.16. So the neckband that I’m attaching is stretching by 16% to get round the circumference of the neckline. For a fabric with 50% stretch, that’s **less than half** the potential stretch available to me on this particular neckline. Now I **know,** from how the neckband turned out that it’s not **quite** stretching enough to lay completely flat all the way around. Which means I’m close, but not quite close enough.

So how about this….if I theorise/guestimate that I want to use **half** of the stretch percentage available to me, (to get a balance between stretching but not over stretching my neckband), then I would need this band to stretch by 25%….and therefore be 25% smaller than my neckline. So….if I take my original neckline circumference of 61cm and reduce that by 25% as follows 61 x 0.25 = 15.25 then 61 – 15.25 = 45.75cm.

So, if I had cut my neckline at 45.75 cm instead of 52.5cm….would it have laid flat all the way round? It’s a difference of 6″ to the neckline circumference so it sounds extreme. Hmm…not sure about that one. 6″ seems alot doesn’t it? 3″ shorter than I actually cut it. The finished neckline wasn’t THAT far wrong. Perhaps I should strike the middle ground between the 16% difference the “triangle method” gave me and the 25% figure and opt for a neckband 20% shorter than the neckband circumference. That would make my neckband 4.8″ shorter than my neckline. 1.8″ shorter than I actually cut it. That sounds more feasible to me. Knowing how the back neckline turned out that 1.8″ less in the neckband would probably have done it

In any case, I’m beginning to conclude that using the triangle method of measuring the neckline will get me in the right ball park; but that needs to be counter checked with the stretch percentage of the fabric I’m using. This COULD be the key to getting the right neckband ratio for any given project. (I don’t think it’s as simple as just cutting the neckband 3″ shorter than the neckline every time, when you take into account that some fabrics will need to stretch more in order to sit flat.) I’m leaning towards calculating the stretch percentage of the fabric, then **using somewhere between a third to a half of the stretch potential of the fabric**, (so basically 2/5) to calculate the neckband length, based on the neckline circumference. Clear as mud right, lol?!

What say you?? Does the above make sense? Are any of my calculations off? (I’m no maths genius, lol!) Do you have your own method??? Share away peops. Let’s geek out together!