100 Acts of Sewing July - Shirt No 1, favourites and neckline hacks

So the theme of the first week of 100 Act of Sewing July is favourites!  Hands down, my go to 100 Acts of Sewing pattern is Shirt No 1. I made my first one over 2 years ago and it is still a favourite!  It's such an easy pattern, that even with my first one, I decided to play around with by lengthening the sleeves and adding some cuffs. Here I'm wearing it with Pants No 1.

You can find a tutorial for adding cuffs on this post here.

So for this year's challenge, I decided to show you how easy it is to vary the neckline of Shirt No 1.  I have taken my inspiration from some vintage patterns that I have in my collection.  I LOVE vintage patterns and often use the shapes and pattern pieces to adapt my clothes.

Version 1 - SQUARE NECK

I made this shirt in beautiful linen from one of our 2020 Sponsors, With This Cloth.

I actually used the same neckline that I used on Tunic No 1 last year.  

This is the pattern piece I used for the neckline and facing (the front is similar, just a bit lower).

You don't need a vintage pattern to copy though.  Just redraw your square neckline on your pattern tracing at the required depth and slope it out a little towards the shoulders.  Remember to add a seam allowance.  You may also need to extend or decrease the shoulder line depending on the width of neckline you want. Make sure your front and back shoulder lines match. 

Then cut a facing about 3 inches deep (like the vintage pattern pieces in the photo).  You may want to interface it, or you can just use a firm cotton. You can use this tutorial from 2019 to apply the facing to the neckline  -  your facing will be narrower and not caught into the sleeves. You'll need to finish all the raw edges of the facing but apart from that, the technique is exactly the same. 

Version 2 - GROWN ON NECK

I love this kind of neckline.  This is the pattern that inspired it.  And it is so easy!

I basically just extended the neck up from the shoulder line as shown.  The neckline needs to fit over your head, so make sure your opening will be wide enough!  I made my opening about 24 inches in total, so each neck piece measured about 6 and a half inches from the middle fold (including a half inch seam allowance).

Then just sew the shoulders and neck in one go on each side and make a small double hem on your neckline raw edge  - it is very easy!  You could make is very shallow and boat like, or deeper and cowl like.  When made in linen like this, it is quite crisp and holds its shape - I fold the collar inside itself like so. 

Tip - for a similar slouchy sweater version of this style for knit fabrics, see the Maker's Atelier Big Easy Top - another one of my favourite patterns,

Version 3 - STAND UP

This is a classic 60s neckline and I love it! 

I made my version in this amazing floral from Selvedge and Bolts and my earrings were custom made for me by Mahliqa - both have kindly sponsored prizes this year.  And you can get 15% off at Mahliqa.co.uk throughout July with the code 100ACTSJULY.

It takes a bit more work but once you have done it once, it is easy to repeat on other garments.  Again you could make it quite shallow, maybe just an inch deep, or much deeper like a funnel, or even fold it double, like I have with this one. 

This collar is cut on the bias so you will need an extra half yard or so of fabric.  You can also interface the collar for extra body, but you might want to use a more flexible interfacing such as a stretch one, so you don't lose the slight stretch that the bias cut gives. I did not interface this version as my fabric was quite stable.

Here 's how to do it:

1. Cut your back as normal using the neckline on the pattern. Scoop the front just a little, maybe half and inch, to get a nice gentle curve that is a bit lower then the back.

2. Stabilise your around your neckline with some fusible tape. Mark the centre front and back of your shirt on the inside.

3. Sew the shoulders together as normal and finish the shoulder seams and press them open. Do not sew the side / underarm seams yet!  

4. Now work out the complete width of your neckline (excluding seams) all around by adding the distance from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, front and back. I use a tape measure on its side and measure on the seamline, about half an inch in. My total measurement on this was about 25 inches

4. Now make a pattern piece for the collar.  

The length and the required depth of your collar pattern piece is:

Length - the length of your neckline plus an extra inch for seams to be on the safe side. Now be warned, as we are going to cut it on the bias, it will stretch a bit, so you may find you need to trim it down a bit once we start to attach it. But better to have it too long than too short!

Width - double the required finished depth of your neckline, plus one inch total for seam allowances (half an inch on each long edge). I made by collar piece 5 inches wide as I wanted the finished depth to be 2 inches deep when standing up. 

Mark the grainline at 45 degrees to the normal straight grain of your pattern piece. Now place you pattern piece on your fabric with the line at 45 degrees (on the bias) and cut it out carefully.  Try not to pull it out of shape once you have cut it out.

5, Now fold in one long side just under half an inch to the wrong side. Press carefully and don't stretch the collar piece. Mark the centre of your collar on both long edges on the wrong side (you are going to be matching these long edges later, you can add further match points along the long edges if you like)

Then unfold your pressed edge and pin the short sides of the collar together right sides together.  Machine tack together.  Finger press open for now then fold the edge back into place.

6. Place your shirt right side up in front of you. Take the collar and place around the neckline, right sides together, matching raw edges and centre front and back of collar and shirt. 

Starting at centre front, pin collar to neckline, then work along each side towards the back, .  Try to ease the seam lines together in a nice curve and pin in place.  As you reach the back, you'll see if your collar is going to be too long. If it is the right size, stitch your back collar seam with normal stitches.  If it is going to be too big, remove your tacking at the back collar seam and rejoin the short edges together so they will fit the neckline exactly and the join is at centre back.  Re stitch the seam, trim it down if needed and carefully press open.  Rematch the raw edges of shirt and collar together and pin so that the whole collar is attached. 

7. Now stitch your collar to the neckline using a half inch seam allowance all round. Press then trim and grade your seams.  I didn't snip into mine as my fabric had a bit of stretch, but you may need to snip if things aren't lying nicely. Press all the seam allowances up towards the collar.

8. Now fold the collar back down in half, right side facing out,  so the long pressed side covers the seam you have just stitched around the neckline.  This is where your matching points may come in handy!  Pin first then and tack in place, making sure the collar is not twisting. 

9. To secure in place, you can either hand stitch, catching the edge of the collar in place to the now hidden seam allowances, or you can stitch in the ditch from the right side, which should catch the folded edge in place on the inside.  

10. Sew the side and underarm seams, hem the bottom and sleeves.  Give it all a press and ta da!  All finished!

You can see with mine that I can wear the collar standing up fully or flipped back on itself.




 I hope you like these Shirt No 1 hacks!

You can buy the pattern in my shop or from 100 Acts Of Sewing in the US.

Happy shirt making!

Grace x






  • Anne

    I wanted to update my look. I believe this top is it. It is the perfect combination of stylish and practical. Thank you for showing the various options. I am going to try them all and the pants in your photo! Love your fabric choices! My daughters, age 20 & 22 also love the look and are planning to make this top for themselves. We agree that you look wonderful in the photos!

  • Annmarie

    Hi, I just love this top, timeless. What’s not timeless is me. I’m now at the age where I want a collar but I don’t want an enclosed neckline as I’m from the warm part of Australia. Your collar is ideal, love your work.

  • Val Bond

    Love the look

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