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How to fix a gaping neckline on any wrap dress


Is there anything worse than a sagging, gaping neckline on a wrap dress?

Because our bodies are all proportioned so differently, with different high bust - full bust - waist ratios and everything in between and all around, getting a woven wrap to fit snugly without any tweaks or alterations to the fit is like assuming that your first love will be your forever love. For some people, life magically works out that way, and their wrap dress will fit like a dream right out of the packet, but for others - most of us - it takes a toile or two (and a healthy dose of heartbreak in the love department!) before we get it right. But I'm here to tell you that if you're struggling to fit your wrap dress, the solution is simple. I wish I could say the same about love!

In this post I'm going to show you two ways to improve the fit of your wrap neckline - first, we're going to eliminate the gape, and second, we're going to alter the shape of the neckline to give more coverage. I'll be using our Hannah wrap dress for this tutorial, but you can apply the same techniques to almost any wrap bodice.

How to eliminate gape on a wrap neckline

You'll need to start by making up a toile / muslin of your wrap bodice so that you can decide how much needs to be removed from the neckline. Try your toile on, and standing in front of a mirror, pinch out the excess around the bust area of the wrap neckline. Pin that excess and take the toile off. Make a couple of pen marks either side of the pin so that when you take out the pin you can measure the amount you pinched out.

Take your bodice front pattern piece and using your toile for reference, mark out where the excess needs to come out and how much. The two red lines in the image below represent the two pen marks made either side of the pinned pinch:

Now we're going to draw some slash lines.

Draw one straight line from the top of the waist dart to either one of the marks at the neckline.

Next, draw a straight line going through the middle of the waistline dart.

At the point where these two lines meet - the top of the waist dart - will be a pivot point, represented by a little circle.

(Please note that we are using a small scale version of the pattern, not giant pens!)

Now we're going to cut along each of these two lines: in from the neckline and stopping at the top of the dart, and up through the dart and stopping just before you reach the top. 

You do not want these two slash lines to meet - we need to be able to pivot / hinge at the top of the dart.

You'll see that if you open up one of the slash lines, the other will close in on itself:

So now we're going to swallow up that unwanted gape at the neckline.

Move the slash line at the neckline in on itself so that the two little marks meet. Tape this securely into place.

You'll see that in shortening the neckline, the waist dart will have opened up:

Slip a little piece of scrap paper under the dart to fill it in and tape it into place.

True out (smooth out) the waistline and trim away the excess paper.

If your neckline is looking a bit disjointed after having altered it, you can just smooth that out as well.

And that's all done! This is my favourite way to eliminate gaping as it smoothly removes the unwanted excess and rotates it out into a dart, without affecting the rest of the bodice. This same technique can be applied to back necklines, and non-wrap front necklines too, provided that the gaping isn't being caused by something more significant, such as a rounded upper back or a full bust.

How to redraw a wrap neckline for more coverage

Our Hannah wrap dress is designed to have quite a scoopy neckline that curves gently with the bust. If you'd like a bit more coverage, it's very simple to redraw the neckline.

Again, you will ideally need to have made a toile / muslin in order to measure on yourself how much extra coverage you want.

Start by taking your bodice front and extend the shoulder seam towards the centre front. About 1" - 1 1/2" is probably the max you could do. For the dress pictured in this post, I extended the shoulder seam by an inch.

Then connect that extended shoulder seam to the waistline with a straight line.

Because we've made the front shoulder seam longer, we also need to alter the bodice back piece to match:

Simple as that!

I hope this tutorial has helped to shed some light on how straightforward it can be to painlessly achieve a beautifully fitting wrap neckline!

Comments on this post (19)

  • Sep 09, 2020

    Clear and precise instructions! Thank you for posting. If one has to do a FBA, i assume that’s fine first? Can you please post how ti do a FBA on a wrap dress bodice, please?

    — Carolyn

  • Jul 03, 2020

    That is really helpful. Thank you.

    — Geraldine Gorman

  • May 11, 2020

    Hi Julie, these are the sleeves from the Jenna Dress! Jessica.

    — By Hand London

  • May 11, 2020

    Elisalex used a double gauze from Fabric Godmother. Jessica.

    — By Hand London

  • May 11, 2020

    Hi Kelsey, you’re correct! Well done :)

    — By Hand London

  • May 11, 2020

    Hi Emily,

    If the pattern is for woven fabric it should’ve some kind of dart. If its from a knit you shouldn’t have too much issue with gaping. If there are no darts and it is a woven the hinge will be at the seam line, Either side seam or waist line. Hope this helps!

    — By Hand London

  • May 11, 2020

    This is such a clear and useful tutorial, thank you!

    — Amy

  • May 11, 2020

    Great post. Very clear instructions and diagrams. Perhaps a photo showing the toile fitting and pinching out would be helpful but it was simple enough for most sewers to visualise Thankyou.

    — Patricia Wilcox

  • May 11, 2020

    That’s a beautiful dress. Is the fabric a double gauze?

    — Stephanie Fitzwater

  • May 11, 2020

    I have been nervous about making a wrap dress. I’m short waisted and DD cup.
    I’m going to give it a try. Thank you for taking the time to share.

    — Linda

  • May 11, 2020

    This is a great tutorial! How would you approach eliminating gaping on a wrap bodice without a waist dart? Or without waist and bust darts? In the past I’ve just created a hinge at the side seam line, but I wasn’t sure if was technically correct.

    — Kelsey Jorgensen

  • May 11, 2020

    This is very helpful. I love the version of the Hannah dress you are wearing, it’s lovely. I was put off the pattern before, but as you have shown how simple it is to make the neckline with more coverage, I am keen to try it now! Can you describe how to the sleeve as per this version, and also what is your fabric?

    Many thanks

    — Julie Lothian

  • May 11, 2020

    Thank you very much for this tutorial. Such a simple explanation for a big problem. I have never seen this remedy, brilliant..

    — chris martin

  • May 11, 2020

    I have always wanted to be able to solve that problem. I will try it out. Thanks for sharing.

    — Karan A Pinkston

  • May 11, 2020

    These are both so useful but especially the gaping one. Thanks!

    — Alex

  • May 11, 2020

    I forgot to ask:: where did you get that lovely fabric for that dress and do you have a tutorial for the sleeves that you’ve used for the Hannah Dress please? As prefer that style to the plain short sleeve version.

    — Tanya

  • May 11, 2020

    Many thanks for posting this!! I use a slightly different technique by tapering (to zero) the gaping from the neckline to the side seam, but I will try this method too!!

    — Tanya

  • May 11, 2020

    Thanks for the great adjustment tutorial. I can now see many great fitting Hannah dresses in my future


  • May 11, 2020

    This is great! I love the look of wrap dresses, but avoid them because the patterns usually allow for too much cleavage and I always experience gaping. What do you do if you the pattern doesn’t have a dart to form the hinge? Do you just draw in the lines?

    — Emily

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