Fixing necklines

Is there anything we can do to make RTW necklines fit better and not droop to reveal a bra?

My neighbor, Rosie Two Shoes, had a family wedding to attend and she found the prefect dress except being petite, the bodice top exposed more then she wanted. You know the style, you grab the top of the shoulder seam and pull up about one inch (2 inches in total) until it sits properly.

Some seamstresses would be tempted to just take in that shoulder seam by stitching deeper into that seam and leaving the bulk inside or trimming it off…quick and easy right?

Sure, you can get away with it for one day but what about the fact it has a lining too which adds to the bulk?

There is another way to do the job that makes your neckline more flattering and comfortable so that you want to wear the dress again. Pinning out her shoulder seam reveals that one shoulder in lower than the other…so common in women. If you are right handed like me and my friend, chances are your right shoulder is the lower one as we use it to carry groceries, babies and our purses. In addition to this, the right hip will be higher if the waist seam has to be adjusted as well.

First, find the lining center back seam and open it up as this will be your entrance. Notice that the shoulder seam is gathered textured chiffon and the lining is pretty thick knit as formal clothes have these days.

Reach up inside to the shoulder seams and pull them out and thread trace the new seam line for the chiffon layer keeping the gathers/tucks. Notice the original tulle interfacing.

Do the same for the thick lining that has no gathers..

Compare the seams to make them match before stitching by machine.

Keep the small tucks and gathers as in the original.

After stitching, serge or trim off the excess for both.

Sew lining to the chiffon at armscye and neckline.

Pull the straps to the right side and notice that the lining is narrower so that it never shows when worn.

If you feel the need to replace the original understitching, it can be done by hand. It could also be done by machine but it would have been very fiddly.

Last thing to do is close the lining entrance with a serger or zigzag as the original.

You are done and ready to go to the party!

Another quick neckline fix is for my favorite Amazon rayon loose top. Sadly the front neckline is a deep “U” shape and reveals my bra, so I decided to snug it up by removing a wedge from just the front section.

By reducing the front section it actually makes the piece more on the straight of grain instead of bias = more stable.

It will keep me cool and covered as the weather is shifting into summer! For the next 7 days, our Pacific Northwest weather will be blasting out full summer temps. Good news for the tomatoes and squash but deadly for the sugar snap peas. At least the good thing is we have a 40 degree drop in the evenings to help cool the house down!

88° | 52°Fobs-icon

Partly Cloudy

92° | 57°Fobs-icon


101° | 65°Fobs-icon


104° | 66°Fobs-icon


97° | 59°Fobs-icon


87° | 55°Fobs-icon


86° | 55°Fobs-icon


84° | 55°Fobs-icon

All this is a good reason to stay indoors and get some sewing projects started or finished! So stay cool my friends and drink fluids!!!

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19 Responses to Fixing necklines

  1. lynne says:

    Thank you so much for all the sewing information

    • mrsmole says:

      You are welcome…we all have the same issues with RTW and as my grandmother would say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” even though she had and loved cats.

      • LinB says:

        I always wondered why anyone would want to skin a cat. The skin and fur is too fragile to sew into anything useful … and there’s not much meat on a cat.

        Also, what’s up with “not enough room to swing a cat.” Who is swinging cats? The mind boggles.

    • mrsmole says:

      Reply to LinB…Thoe old sayings just hang around long past knowing their original meaning!!! Maybe folks used to know the length of a cat being swung from tip of the nose to the tip of its tail. Judging by my cat stretched out, I’d say 2 feet!

  2. Elizabeth Harber says:

    So helpful. 😁 Short waist and high bust – I will certainly use this idea.

    • mrsmole says:

      The problems come with a lining being there adding bulk. Women don’t have to be in the petite range to be shorter waisted either. Some of my tallest brides had the shortest waists and the longest legs!

  3. Dara says:

    YOU are a SEWING GENIUS!! Thank you.

  4. ceci says:

    Very timely – I was just puzzling over how to raise the neckline/under arm on my DIL’s dress – I ended up not taking exactly this approach but reading it was a great confidence builder before the actual dismantling of the dress. Final solution was a great success, thankfully; DIL buys rather expensive but not necessarily beautifully constructed things and I didn’t want to mess it up!

    Days in the 80s don’t count as that hot for us, but once you hit the upper 90’s I’m impressed. Wondering if you also get a version of our lovely soggy humidity! THAT is the icing on the cake!


  5. mrsmole says:

    Thankfully, we live inland from the ocean and our highest elevation over 5,000 feet blesses us with dry weather all year so lots of static electricity too so I alway told the brides to buy a can of Static Guard to spray on their dresses and the bridesmaids dresses. If we ever have 50% humidity here, we all think it is Florida weather…ha ha. We are spoiled in that way but when it hits 114 as it will do later, finding shade is a bonus!
    I remember when I used to troll through high end shops in Newport Beach in the 80’s and looking at the seams and finishing inside only to find plain old serging instead of fine details. We are led to believe that if you pay more, you get couture….ha ha…not always and most had tiny seams that could never be let out. You DIL is lucky to have you!!!

    • CHERYL DESIGNS says:

      I have JUST REALIZED the incoming bridal shop bridesmaid gowns have NO BRA CUPS and most have NO LININGS except in the bodices! (Unless they are CHIFFON and of course, those NEED linings) WHEN did this happen? Bridesmaids are bringing me gowns they paid $150-$200 for! WHAT POOR QUALITY for such a LARGE PRICE 😦 They NEED to buy ONLINE. AZAZIE is a GREAT COMPANY. As is BIRDY GREY, KENNEDY BLUE and JJS HOUSE. FANTASTIC customer service and GREAT pricing 🙂 When customers send them CORRECT MEASUREMENTS I rarely need to do anything to them other than HEMS 🙂 Shoulder shortening but MOST of them are making ADJUSTABLE straps 🙂 GOOD FOR THEM 🙂 It is EXPENSIVE to be a bridesmaid 🙂

      • mrsmole says:

        No kidding…it used to be a priviledge to be asked but now the prices are horrendous! The standards have dropped so low and they are eliminating linings? and no Bust cups? JJ’s House has good gowns to alter. Used to be that you didn’t have pregnant gals in your bridal party but everyone can be asked now and pregnancy dresses are available.

  6. Lindsay says:

    I learn so much from you. Thank you!

  7. mrsmole says:

    I just learn so much from accepting challenging projects and I get to pass them on to you!

  8. Kbenco says:

    My daughter has asked me to make her wedding dress and I have reread most of your blog in preparation (and with trepidation). Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your wonderful and extensive sewing knowledge.

  9. mrsmole says:

    I’m always here for help, don’t hesitate to ask questions
    Good luck!

  10. Patty says:

    I recently altered the neckline on a bridesmaid dress by opening the straps up at the shoulders and taking it up as you showed. But your explanation of opening up the lining at the center back seam makes a lot of sense! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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