Baggy Necklines and Zimmermann Advice

Hello! I have a couple sweaters that have necklines that stretch as I wear them. I noticed a line in Knitting without Tears that advises knitters “to run an elastic thread through the neck stitches.” Has anybody tried this? I handsewed stay tape to one sweater, but it looked ugly and I ripped it out.
I’ve tried sewing thin thread-like elastic, but it was still too thick for the needle and seemed wrong. I’m toying with machine sewing fold over elastic to the back neck and shoulders.

Obviously I sew, too. Non sewers might not be familiar with these types of elastic, but I’m interested to know how anyone would solve the baggy neckline issue.

One solution I have heard from knitting instructors, but haven’t yet tried myself, is to do a round of slip-stitch crochet around the inside of the neck. It should stabilize the neckline. Of course the non-stretchiness of crochet would have the opposite effect to elastic, and I assume you would do it right at the seam where the collar meets the body of the sweater and not at the top of the collar.


I’ve had similar problems especially with soft yarns like alpaca or open stitch patterns. I have had some success by sewing thin ribbon across the shoulders and back of the neck. It is not stretchy but you can measure accurately to the size you want, more easily than a crochet line. You can colour match or contrast, choose velvet or other material to match. It does the job and can look pretty! I’m not sure if I can attach a photo of an example?


Hmm I’m sure that crochet is learnable via YouTube. I tried the elastic, but it has a tendency to slide up in the back. I think I’ll rip it out.

That looks good! I did this with the front bands of my cardigan and I am not happy with my hand sewing. Did you use a machine?

I have done that. Tricky to figure out where to run the elastic so it doesn’t show sometimes. I thought the hardest part was tying off the end of the elastic so it doesn’t show and doesn’t come loose. And I’m a sewer. I think i sewed it down by hand, flipped the end of it back over where i sewed and tacked down again. Might take a couple rows of elastic.

What kind of elastic did you use? I’ve been thinking of clear elastic like you find stabilizing t shirts sometimes

I use ribbon - usually a thin velvet. I choose something that looks sympathetic but is also comfortable along the back of the neck. I find that the baggy neck is usually due to the shoulders pulling down because of the weight of the sleeves so I reinforce along the top of the garment to restrict the shoulder width and I find the front of the neck takes care of itself.

I do it by hand so that the stitches don’t go through to the front. With bound sides, the ribbon doesn’t fray and if thin like this one, I just go down the middle. On really heavy jacket style garments, I might use a wider ribbon and slip-stitch both sides.

I have used a row of crocheted chain stitch to stabilize the neck in a couple of sweaters, and it has worked very well. As someone said, the chain stitch is added where the body and neck stitches meet.

I’ve used elastic thread to pull in the bottom edges of many sweaters–somehow my ribbing often relaxes and flares out after a while. I even did this on my Hadley. I thread two or three rows of matching elastic thread through the back of the ribbing. It doesn’t show, and it vastly improves the look of the sweater.

However, I would rather discover how to knit ribbing that hugs the way it’s supposed to. One suggestion I read, for ribbing that’s at least 2 x 2, is to twist the first knit stitch in each pair. Has anyone tried this? Or used other means to snug-en ribbing? I’d love to know.

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Have you tried going down a needle size for just the ribbing?

I have no experience in this area. However, since you mentioned EZ, perhaps someone at the Elizabeth Zimmerman group on Face Book could answer the question, or perhaps inquire at Schoolhouse Press (website or phone).

What yarn is this sweater knit in? Yarns behave in various ways, and sometimes substituting one for another leads to structural issues. You might get the gauge right with a different yarn, but the fabric will behave differently than the pattern suggests. Sometimes you just have to re-knit. If the neckline flopped after only a few wears, you might be able to correct it by going down a needle size from the ribbing needle, or take up fewer stitches than the pattern calls for. Check your stretched gauge first, and subtract the correct number in your new pick up to make it that much smaller. Twisting the knit stitches – or all the stitches – can tighten things up a bit too.

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Good idea Julia. I like the tip about measuring gauge. I think the problem with one sweater might be the design. It just has a wider neckline than I want. Ripping and reknitting a wider neck would solve that. The second sweater I’m trying to fix is made of floppy superwash merino. It’s my only sweater out of that kind of yarn and I know it will take years of forgetting or more experience before I use that kind of yarn in a sweater again. It is shaped by using progressively smaller needles.

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Similar to what Julia suggested, picking up fewer stitches than you normally would would help a neck line wider than you would want.

For the sweater shaped by decreasing needle size, slip stitch crochet is probably your best bet (but I do not sew, sewing suggestions may also work well).
I have done the slip stitch crochet between the body and the neck ribbing, and again just 1/4 inch below the cast off edge of the ribbing, to tighten the neckline, and make the collar lay flat.

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This crochet solution has done the job for me several times.

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