Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi Mahon

T6854 227x300 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonNot everyone encounters a gapping neckline, but when you have one, you know it. In my February/March 2017 Sew News column I addressed why this occurs and how easy it is to fix. Read on to learn how I discovered this solution when I was 16 years old.

For any garment, you should always make a fitting sample so you can pin out any fit issues prior to sewing in the fashion fabric. Fit issues can only be eliminated in the fitting stage. Once a garment is sewn, you can address fit issues from a garment alteration approach like you would if you had purchased it off the rack, but you can’t eliminate them since you are past the pattern-making and pattern-fitting stages. The joy of sewing for yourself or others is that you can prevent having to settle for alterations and make things correctly from the beginning.

knit neckline 700 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonI actually taught myself how to make the gapping neckline adjustment over 25 years ago, while I was working in a tailor’s shop during high school. When you’re altering a ready-to-wear garment with a gapping neckline, the goal is to pull the neckline closer to the body. Since you are not sewing the garment from the beginning, you need to rely on alterations. Some alterations may look seamless and conceal what was done — which was always our goal in the shop — but alterations cannot always completely eliminate a fit issue, since you are fitting a standard-sized ready-to-wear garment to a unique body shape. Some alteration options for a gapping neckline include making a dart, tuck or seam line down the CF in order to remove the excess; making multiple creative darts to absorb the excess and hug the neckline; or sewing elastic to the underside, causing the fabric to hug the body.

While working in this shop, I had an ah-ha moment. I discovered that when you place a garment on the torso and pin out fabric down the center front, it does not affect anything else. Try it and you’ll see. Watch the garment on the body as you pin, and you’ll notice that the only area that moves or changes is the gapping neckline being removed by the pinning. No other area on the garment is affected, shifted or anything. This proved to me that the grain of the overall garment does not change when you modify the center front — you still have a straight line down the center front. I have done this thousands of times now and it has never failed. It has also given me a greater understanding and realistic view of grain and working with patterns on the body.

knit necklines wf Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi MahonIn alterations your solutions are limited because the garment is already sewn, but when sewing and designing for yourself, you can remove the gapping neckline prior to sewing your fashion fabric and still have a seamless custom look.

Voila the Joy of Sewing!

—Designer Joi

To learn the details of Joi’s gapping-neckline fitting solution, check out her “Joi of Fitting” column in the February/March 2017 issue of Sew News, available on newsstands now through March 13, 2017, and at indefinitely.

For more from Joi, visit or find her book Designer Joi’s Fashion Sewing Workshop and Create the Perfect Fit in

*** Read here for making a wrap dress neckline lay nice and flat, from Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette Patterns.

Long read: What Makes Sewing Joyous For You?

Read: 7 Reasons To Try Fashion Sewing

Read more on fitting here!

 Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi Mahon
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3 Responses to Perfect Fit: Bonus Info with Joi Mahon

  1. Terry says:

    Sorry that should say “pin out fabric down the center front”

  2. Terry says:

    What do you mean by “pin out front down?”

    Thank you,

    • Kate says:

      It means pinching up excess fabric (on a muslin fit sample specifically) along the center-front line and pinning along the line to hold the excess fabric out. From there, you can use the measurements of the pinned-out fabric to adjust the pattern to remove the excess fabric at the cutting stage. For more on this technique, check out the “Joi of Fitting” column in the February/March issue of Sew News.