Aligning the Neckhole in your Pattern
by Katla járnkona
When you are creating a tunic (or undertunic) for medieval clothing, you won't have a purchased pattern to show how to size your neck hole or how to align or place that hole in relation to the line of your shoulders or your shoulder seams. This page will help you create a pattern that you can use on future patterns to make and align your custom neckhole.There are a few items that you'll want to consider when designing your neckhole pattern.
- Your actual neck size: the measurement around your neck
- Hem allowance around the neckhole, particularly if you are creating a small or tight neckhole.
- How modest you care to be (this will lean you toward a smaller neck hole)
- What is your head diameter?
Unlike a T-shirt that has an elastic sort of neck line, a tunic made of cotton, linen or wool is not going to stretch when you pull it on over your head. You'll want to have a circle that is at least slightly larger than your neck size. You don't want to feel like you're choking. Alternatively, you don't want to risk undue sunburn by exposing too much of your skin. Also, if your neckhole is too large, you might find your tunic 'floating' left or right, front or back, instead of staying in place.
The simple way to expand the space for the neckhole to fit over your head without increasing the actual neckhole is to have some sort of keyhole on the front seam.
So, since I almost always misplace my neckhole pattern between garments, I have to go through this sizing step every time.
Create a permanent pattern piece (or at least you can tell yourself that it will be permanent!) on some light to medium weight fabric that you have at hand. About 18" square should be plenty. Fold the fabric in half and iron the fold. Take a pen or marker and draw a line over the fold line. This will be your left-right division. You can iron the fold out of the fabric now.
I use a small plate to create the neckhole. I'll mark out a seam allowance, either inside the plate or outside the plate (depending on my neck size). Cut out the inside of the circle. Use a scissors to snip the inner circle toward the seam allowance.
If you are planning on using a facing material on your garment, you'll want to make sure that, when you make the actual seam, your snips don't go all the way to the seam. Otherwise, your garment may fray at the seams long before it has finished its useful life. So, you don't want your neckhole too small, but you'll want to make sure that it's not too large once you've created a hem allowance.
Next, you'll want to determine where the neckhole lines up relative to your shoulder seam (or the fold that represents your shoulder seam if you don't have one). Measure the diameter of the circle for your neck hole. Your shoulder seam will be 1/3 from the back of your neckhole and 2/3 from the front of your neckhole.
Fold your pattern piece along the 1/3-2/3 line. Iron the fold, then mark the fold line dividing the front of the tunic from the back.
If you haven't already done so, cut a line at the front of the neckhole down the front line marking left from right. You can now try out your pattern by slipping it over your head. If your head doesn't fit, cut a little more along the front line until you can comfortably get the pattern piece over your head.
You now have a pattern piece that you can use on your tunic to make the perfect neck hole. Happy sewing!
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