I mentioned in a previous post that I had problems with neckline gaposis - a neckline that doesn't lie flat against your body, but instead ripples out, due to the neckline edge being too long - while working to perfect the fit of Butterick 5300. I did some research into what caused the problem and how to fix it, and I've posted the collected wisdom here so it will hopefully will benefit others who are dealing with this problem.
What causes "neckline gaposis"?
Poor pattern drafting - this is where making a quick and dirty muslin can really help. (Tissue fitting doesn't really give you an accurate picture - it's best to test the fit in a muslin) Also, the larger your bust and the lower/more open the neckline is, the greater the gaposis is likely to be, so folks who alter their pattern pieces with an FBA should always check the fit with a muslin first.
Over handling the fabric - because necklines are almost never cut on the grainline, they have a tendency to get stretched out as you are working with them. To prevent this, stay stitch the neckline edges as soon as you can after you cut out your fabric. (For years I was guilty of just skipping this step in my rush to get to the "real" sewing.) If you are using neckline facings that are interfaced, fuse or baste the interfacing to the facing pieces ASAP. After sewing facings to the neckline, measure the neckline distance and compare it to your pattern to make sure that it hasn't "grown" on you. (If it has, a good option is to use solution #4 below.)
How to correct "neckline gaposis"
The following links provide information on various ways to deal with neckline gaposis:
1. Eliminating gaposis by shortening the neckline length
2. Shifting the pattern's center front line - or - rotating excess length into a dart (or increasing the size of an existing dart)
3. Taking a deeper shoulder seam allowance (refer to the third paragraph)
4. Easing the neckline edge
(If you know of any other methods or references I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments - thanks!)
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