January 11, 2022

“Ahead of the Curve” Hacks: Change the neckline of the Honeybourne Dress, Foxhill Dress or Kersoe Top

Learning to fit garments to your body is a transformational skill, but you know what’s really fun? Taking those well-fitting garments and turning them into an entire wardrobe! “Ahead of the Curve: Learn to Fit and Sew Amazing Clothes for Curves” has 5 simple patterns included to help you learn to fit, but there are infinite possibilities once you start to hack. This January, I’m going to take you through several ideas to transform these 5 patterns into a whole variety of styles.

In fact, it’s often much easier to take a pattern that already fits you well and alter the style than it is to keep making fitting adjustments on new patterns. With style alterations and different fabrics, no one will ever know they originate from the same patterns.

For example: let’s say you see a new shorts pattern with a flat front and elastic waist, and big patch pockets. You could re-fit that pattern, which may mean multiple toiles (muslins) and adjustments. Or, you could take your already-well-fitting Magna Pants, shorten them to a shorts length and draft patch pockets yourself!

Or, how about a pleated dress with a darted, fitted bodice and short sleeves? It’s easy to take your Honeybourne Dress that you’ve already fitted to your body, change the gathers to pleats and shorten the sleeves.

Today I want to start by showing you how to alter the neckline on the Honeybourne Dress, Foxhill Dress or Kersoe Top from “Ahead of the Curve“. In fact, this barely counts as a “hack” once you see how easy it is!

Altering the neckline of a sewing pattern

It’s very easy to change a neckline from high to low, scoop to V, or to narrow or widen it. It’s as simple as drawing the new line onto your pattern!

The key “rules” for this are:

  • Symmetrical shapes work best (otherwise it may pull to one side)
  • If you’re aiming for a rounded neckline, make sure the line you draw reaches the center front at a 90 degree angle (otherwise it will have a little point, like a V neck)
  • Remember the seam allowance will disappear once sewn, in order to get the finished width and depth that you’re after.
  • If you are using a pattern which has a facing or lining at the neckline (like the Foxhill – facing, or Kersoe – lining), then you’ll need to change the facing or lining too.

Here are some ways you could change the Honeybourne Dress neckline, which is finished with a long strip of bias facing. Once you’ve made the change to the pattern, you simply have to use a shorter or longer piece of bias facing (or, if it’s no longer rounded, you may want to create a facing instead).

Deep V neck:

Square neck:

High scoop neck:

Here is what similar adjustments will look like on the Foxhill Dress, including changing the facing. Do the adjustment of the main bodice neckline first. Then create a brand new facing piece by placing a piece of tracing paper over the adjusted bodice neckline. Trace the neckline, and then draw a new inner edge of the facing on – it needs to be the same width as the back facing so that they match at the shoulder seam.

For the Kersoe Top, as the lining piece and the main piece are the same (there’s just a different hemline), it’s as simple as making the neckline change once on that pattern piece, and the two will then match!

As you can see, changing the neckline of a pattern is a really simple hack, but a great way to transform the look of your next garment.

11 thoughts on ““Ahead of the Curve” Hacks: Change the neckline of the Honeybourne Dress, Foxhill Dress or Kersoe Top

  1. Chris Schwab says:

    I find that using a gently curved line rather than a very straight line on necklines looked much better on the body, but these are great ideas! Thanks

  2. Jackie Jonas says:

    I love this! I am in love with sweetheart necklines. I know some people thing they are old fashioned, but I love the look. Any tips on how to make that alteration?

  3. Mo T says:

    I love the book A Head of the Curve. I am looking forward to the next hacks for the book’s patterns.

  4. Gina says:

    Excellent! Have already hacked the Honeybourne by removing the sleeves and finishing with an integrated 5cm facing around the neck and armholes. It worked a treat an is more comfortable in a humid Sydney summer.

  5. Gail says:

    I love this book! Summer here in Australia and after making two Kersoe tops, I’m planning a the Kersoe silk dress, and a top with sleeves from the Roseclair dress. Not so keen on the gathered shirt for the Honeybourne so plan to do something different. Still pondering the possibilities.

  6. Mary Powell says:

    The Kersoe Top is next on my list, and I love the Foxhill Dress.
    Can you do a hack on adapting patterns to be sleeveless? I’m thinking ahead to summer.

  7. Annette says:

    I just made my first Honeybourne dress with plenty of hacks/adaptations – next version will have a different neckline! I’m planning to work through the book and use the patterns over and over again, as you suggest – the fit of the first two I’ve tried (Honeybourne and Kersoe) is amazing!

  8. Christina says:

    Hello has anyone ever made the Honeybourne dress from Jersey fabric? Would love to make something soft and comfy for the coming summer months.

    1. You could, but you likely could get a better result using a similar-ish design that’s already made for knits, like the Turner Dress. If you do make it, I’d recommend using lightweight jersey (so you can gather it without too much problem), omitting the zipper, and going down a size.

  9. Marion says:

    I have a dress pattern that has pleats at the neckline, but I want to give the pattern a slightly different look so that I don’t have two dresses exactly alike. (I am also changing up the sleeve style.) Do I have to make any major changes to the pattern in order to use gathers at the neckline instead of the pleats?

    1. Ayelet says:

      Hi Marion, it’s hard to say exactly without seeing the pattern but generally yes, you can convert pleats to gathers without needing to adjust the pattern pieces.

      -Ayelet at Cashmerette

Let me know what you think!