How To Trim A Neckline In Sweaters – Perfect Neckline Trim Tutorial

Today I have a big tutorial for you. It is a very detailed step-by-step instruction how to finish the neckline in sweaters impeccably. Finishing is not the most fun part of the process, but this is the reality – good finishing can save a sweater hiding all the imperfections and bad finishing can ruin the most perfectly made sweater.

I learned this technique several years ago and I use it almost every single time for any kind of trim – neckline, cardigan bands, armholes. You can see it in my Gallery sweater, Mineral Heather sweater, La Flor sweater, Ocean and Violet Gift dresses. It saved many of my far from perfect bind off and side edges. What I also love about it is that you can use it as a decorative element too.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

So, let’s suppose you are done with knitting your sweater, seamed the shoulders and ready to trim it. Here is my mini “sweater”.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

As you can see the neckline is not perfectly smooth, though I used sloped bind off to avoid steps in the neckline. The place where you join new ball of yarn is visible. But I assure you all these imperfections will be hidden after the trim.

You will need the following:

  • Your sweater/dress/top with seamed shoulders.
  • The same yarn that you used for the main body.
  • The contrasting yarn – this is optional. You can use only one yarn, the one that you used for the main body. I am using contrasting yarn for the demonstration purposes and to show you how you can add a contrasting color element to your sweater using this technique.
  • Crochet hook in size recommended for the yarn you are using (check the label, usually this information is listed there).
  • Circular needle one-two sizes smaller than the one you used for the main body.

Don’t be afraid of the crochet hook. Even if you’ve never made a single stitch with the crochet hook, you can still use it successfully following this step by step photo guide.

Before we get to the actual trimming, let’s look at the places from where we are going to pick up the stitches. This is very crucial for a smooth neckline trim. There are three different places from where we will pick up stitches – the straight horizontal bind off edge, the straight vertical edge (the place where you were knitting straight without binding off stitches) and the sloped edge. Let’s see from where we are supposed to pick up stitches.

The straight vertical edge. The arrow shows the place from where we will pick up our stitches – right between the selvage stitch and the next stitch.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

The bind off edges (both straight and sloped). The arrow shows the stitch right UNDER the bind off. Some tutorials tell you to pick up stitches inserting needle/crochet hook under the bind off edge, but in my opinion it is not the perfect way, as it can create little holes. I always insert the needle/crochet hook IN the stitch that is right below the bind off edge (see the red arrow) and pick up a stitch from there.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

Now we are ready to start. If you want to see a bigger picture, open it in the new tab.

Take a crochet hook and yarn in contrasting or the same color.

Here how it will look like when you are done with this section.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

In the next section you will work along the straight bind off edge and then get to the other side of the neckline and again work along the straight section.

We are done with the front and will do the same thing on the back.

Now we need to “close” the slip stitch chain.

We are done with the most challenging part of the process. Now everything is going to be very easy.

Now you will continue working as usual – in the stitch that your pattern instructions indicate. There is one more step that I do before getting to the recommended stitch pattern for the band. You can also do it if you want to add a little bit more texture to the band, but it is entirely up to you. After I picked up all the stitches, I purl the first row and only then start the recommended stitch pattern.

Here how the band looks like from the back.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

And here is the front.

How To Trim Neckline In Knitting

You can compare it with “before” picture and see how all imperfections are hidden. There are no holes, no bulk in the neckline area and there is a beautiful contrasting chain running smoothly along the edge.

I hope you will use this technique in your projects. Please, let me know if you still have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.


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45 Comments

  1. You must have put so much work into this beautiful post!
    Wishing you the best of knitting this week and beyond. xoxo

  2. Thank you!
    Great, great post!

  3. thanks!! excellent tutorial!!

  4. You must have been in mind!
    I’m in the process of a sweater improvisation. The main part missing was a good neckline.
    And there’s your post! How weird is this?
    Now I’m good to cast on! 🙂
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  5. Words are failing me to express what an excellent tutorial this is, Alina. Probably because I’m not a knitter, but even so…I’m so impressed at helpful and clear this is. Things like this make me think… someday… I may actually be inspired enough to seriously pick up my needles and master knitting. Someday… maybe… :^)

  6. looks amazing, I love how you finish you collars, they look impeccable.

  7. Such an excellent, clearly explained tutorial – it’s brilliant! thank you very much for this, and I will definitely try it out when I’m next doing a neckline. Love the little trim line of the different colour too.

  8. I love it and I can’t wait to try it out! Thank you for taking the time to put together such a great tutorial:)

  9. This is perfect! Now that I started knitting my first sweater… This is really helpful. Will definitely use it in the near future. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Very nice finish!
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  11. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this wonderful tutorial together. I am nearing this stage in the current project so I will come back and use it the. Thank you again.

  12. I make sweaters with my handspun alpaca. I find that the weight of the alpaca often strains the neck. With your method the neck will be secured evenly all around giving good support for the weight of the sweater. The sweater will wear better, last longer, and retain its appearance over time. Thanks you so much for the tutorial. It is the solution to a long standing problem.

    • I am so happy to hear that, dear Pat! Yes, this finishing secures the neck much better! And what I also love about it is that you can see immediately if the neckline is too loose or too tight, as all the slip stitches are lying flat. When you pick up stitches with the circular needle, everything gets distorted and you can’t see if the neckline is the right size or not.

  13. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!! 🙂 will definitely try it in my next sweater 🙂

  14. What a fantastic tip! I will definitely have to refer back to this post!

  15. what a really wonderful tutorial, so easy to follow, so very helpful. many thanks, i’m sure this post took a long time to put together and it is much appreciated!!

    ps…if you have time and remember, please visit me tomorrow, i would really love for you to see my post!!!! a proud moment for me that i really want “you” to see!!!!

  16. Oh my fantastic tutorial! I have an old sweater sitting in a drawer, that I never wear because the finishing doesn’t look great. I’m going to pull it out again, and see if I can use this to fix it up. (P.S. how do you get such gorgeous lighting on your photos? They practically glitter!)

    • I am glad you will use this tutorial! As for photos, first of all, I try to catch the natural light. It is not always easy 🙂 For this tutorial I literally had to chase the sun! It was partly cloudy and from time to time the sun was covered, so I had to wait for it to come out again. I also shoot only in manual mode, adjusting ISO, aperture and shutter speed on my own. These numbers depend on what camera you have, the lighting and the colors that you are shooting. I am definitely not a professional photographer and I would love to learn more, mostly I just experiment and see what works for me.

  17. This tutorial is extremely helpful. Thank you.

  18. Alina, this looks amazing – may I ask, what effect does the slip stitching have on the ease/stretch of the neckband?

    • Thank you! I am glad you like it! Thank you for your question. The stretch of the neckband depends how tight you are making a slip stitch chain. You don’t want it to pull the fabric, the chain just smoothly “goes” around the neckline. The good thing about this technique is that you can see right away if the fabric is being pulled in too much. If it happens, try to make the slip stitches much looser or go up with the hook size. Personally I didn’t have any problems with the neckline being too tight on my sweaters and I use this technique a lot! Almost every neckline of my FOs is trimmed with it. I hope it helped! Feel free to write to me if you still have questions!

  19. Well well well! One is never too old to learn. I have prided myself in the fact that I knit very well & am very fussy about finishing off. Today I have learnt that there is so much more to proper finishing off than meets the eye. Its wonderful to be able to use ideas of amazing people like you to take one’s work just a little step beyond to further perfection!
    THANK YOU :))

  20. Awesome tutorial Alina. Thank you!
    I’m guessing I could also use the same method of picking up stitches for adding an attached icord to a neckline?

    • I am glad you like it, Mel! Absolutely! I do it all the time! You can see it in my Gallery sweater (http://giftofknitting.com/the-gift-of-knitting-gallery-sweater/) and Sand Sweater (http://giftofknitting.com/textured-sand-sweater-fo-details/) – I made the crochet slip stitch chain first, then knitted an attached i-cord. Creates a very clean and neat look. Think of a crochet slip stitch chain as a blank canvas, after you are done picking up stitches, you can use ANY neckline trim you want – any knit stitch pattern/i-cord/crochet stitch trimming. You can also use this technique for picking up stitched for sleeves, when knitting them top down – just make the same crochet slip stitch chain around the armhole opening, pick up the stitches as usual and knit away 🙂 It closes all gaps/holes/imperfections.

  21. Wonderful technique! I’m rather amazed that I never thought of this myself as I’m always looking for ways to smooth out necklines and armholes! I usually do it by grafting pieces together, which is pretty smooth, but I like you’re idea much better for many applications. Thanks so much!

  22. Oops. “your idea” not “you’re idea!”

  23. Will be trying this soon. Thanks

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