One benefit of sewing your own clothes is the ability to create whatever you have in mind for a particular garment. The color, the fabric, the length — all the choices are yours to make. What if you have a sewing pattern that suits you almost perfectly, but you wish it had a V-neckline? You can easily change your pattern and sew the neckline you want.
Here’s how to modify an pattern to create a V-neckline
Step 1: Check the bust point
Before you start making any cuts, determine the full bust point (also called the apex) on your pattern piece. The apex is marked on many patterns with a cross or X in a cirlce. Compare that to your full bust point and make any adjustments needed. On the dress form above, red ribbon marks the full bust point — it’s a good enough match for this pattern, and I wouldn’t make any alterations.
This step may seem unrelated to adjust the neckline, but it’s essential for getting the fit you want. If the apex is in the right spot, you know that the V neckline will land on your chest in the right place, too.
Step 2: Determine the center of the V point
There are a couple of ways to determine where to put the bottom of the V:
- You can base the V neckline off another sewing pattern that has a V neckline you like.
- If you have a garment with a V-neckline that you like, then you use that to plan the V neckline on your new garment.
- In the image above, I placed some fabric strips in a V shape to see how the V-neck looked in relation to the whole bodice.
Either way, match the garment or the pattern pieces with the the top of the shoulder on your pattern. Mark where the center of the V-neck lands on the center front of your pattern.
At this point, you only need to mark the bottom of the V. In the next step, you’ll complete the rest of the neckline.
Step 3: Draw the new V-neckline
Here’s where a bit of design comes into play, because a flattering V-neckline isn’t really a straight V. There is a bit of curve to most V-necklines. The ribbon in the photo above shows that there’s quite a bit of curve in the V-neckline shape, but on the body it won’t look curved.
Use a curved ruler and play around with the shape until you have a pleasing V-neckline.
It’s also important to consider the opening across the top of the neck. For this style, I took off a bit off the inside shoulder as well to help the neckline lay nicely. This is optional; you can keep the shoulders where they are if you like..
Mark the line that will be the finished edge of the V-neckline (which will also be the stitching line). Later you will add the appropriate seam allowances.
Step 4: Adjust the bodice back
If you changed the width of the shoulder as I did above, making the neck opening wider, then you must make the same adjustment on the back bodice piece at the shoulder as well. Note that these are the stitching lines, and seam allowances still need to be added.
Step 5: Add the seam allowance
Add a seam allowance that matches the rest of your sewing pattern to the outside of the new V-neckline lines.
At this point, you can cut and sew your pattern as normal, and you’ll end up with a sharp V neckline designed just for you.