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What You Need to Know About Using Collars and Necklines in a T-shirt Quilt

May 6th, 2019

By Andrea Funk

Neckline header

A neckline or collar can be included in a T-shirt quilt. Sometimes including them is optional and other times a necessity. 

We regularly use collars and necklines in our quilts. It’s one part of our quilts people positively react. We hear comments like, “Oh, it really is made from T-shirts” or “Wow, that is so much fun.”  We like to add collars and necklines into our quilts because they add a special touch to the quilt.

There is a difference between a collar and a neckline.


A neckline is where the shirt ends and your neck begins. T-shirt typically have a small ribbed neckline that rest right at your collar bone. V-neck T-shirts neckline is considered where the V ends and your skin starts.


A collar is the part of a shirt or blouse that extends beyond the neckline of a shirt. A collar is typically on a shirt that is dressier. When a collar is added to a T-shirt, it becomes a polo shirt. And a polo shirt is one step up from a T-shirt.

Collars can be decorative when they add adornment to a shirt. They can also be functional. For example, when they are used with a necktie or used to keep your neck warm.

The photo of Mickey is an example of a neckline. The second photo is an example of a collar used in a T-shirt quilt.

neckline used in a T-shirt quilt  collar used in a T-shirt quilt

When a Neckline has to be used in a T-shirt Quilt

Sometimes, we have to use a neckline in a quilt. Here are some examples of when a neckline is unavoidable. In these situations, we will include the neckline. 

Printing Extends Beyond Neckline

graphic above the necklineThere are times when a graphic or design is printed higher than the neckline of a T-shirt. When this happens, you have to cut the shirt so the neckline is included. If you didn’t, the graphics would have to be cut off.

When you cut out a T-shirt like this, you will end up with a hole where the neckline is. This can be filled with matching or contrasting fabric. If you choose a matching fabric, the neckline is much less obvious – almost camouflaged.  If a contrasting fabric is used, then the neckline will show up much more readily.

V-neck T-shirts

The lower neckline of a V-neck T-shirt increases the likelihood that the printing will extend above the bottom of the “V.” This is even more so when the T-shirt is a smaller woman’s T-shirts.

Harley Davidson T-shirt quilt with many necklinesNot Enough Fabric

Some T-shirts have graphics so large, that in order to cut out the entire graphic, you need to include fabric from above the neckline. This means that the neck will need to be included in the block.

Our first priority is to include the entire graphic on your T-shirt. After all, this is what a T-shirt quilt is about. When there is a choice between cutting off a graphic or including a neckline, we choose to keep the entire graphic.

Including the entire graphic is what Too Cool T-shirt Quilts is about. This is why we have different size blocks – we want to use the entire graphic. Read more about the Too Cool Style here. When I was making my first T-shirt quilt, I quickly realized that graphics come in all different sizes. This is why I developed a method for making T-shirts that involves using different size blocks. Thus, our philosophy for focusing on the graphics first.

 To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. 
It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.
T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

Optional Uses of Necklines and Collars

We can include necklines or collars when they are not strictly necessary.  Below are some of the reasons we might include unnecessary collars or necklines.

Dress or Polo Shirts

collar used in a T-shirt quilt.If we are using a dress shirt or some other type of shirt with a collar, we may consider using its collar to add texture or interest to the block we cut from that item.

To Make a Quilt Larger

If we want to make a quilt larger than your T-shirts will allow, we can cut the T-shirts with more margin around each graphic. This may require us to seek out fabric from above the neckline. 


If there are decorations or other adornment on the collar or neckline, we will consider using this because it’s part of the T-shirt. Read more about what we can use in your quilt here. 

Choosing Not to Include a Neckline or Collar

In the comment section of our order form, you can tell us not to use collars and necklines. When you tell us this, we definitely will not use optional necklines.  

Below is how we will approach a number of situations when you tell us not to use necklines:

  • The design or graphic extends up into the neckline.
    We will choose to use the neckline over cropping off the graphic. We believe that a cropped-off graphic looks worse than a neckline.

  • The design can’t be centered top to bottom without cutting into the neckline.
    Normally, we opt to center the graphic. If this means cutting into the neckline, we will. If you tell us not to use necklines, we will cut that graphic off-center. This typically means the design will not be centered from top to bottom.

    In the example below, the first block is shown not including the neckline. You can see there is a larger margin at the bottom of the graphic than there is at the top. The second photo shows the graphic centered top to bottom. But in order to get the graphic centered, part of the neck line will be included in the quilt. Note: There will be a piece of matching fabric behind the neckline. 

    neckline off center   neckline helps center the graphic

  • There is not enough fabric to cut the block out without encroaching into the neckline.
    In this situation we add fabric from either another part of that same T-shirt or from another T-shirt so the block is the correct size. This typically happens when a T-shirt is small and the graphic is large.
  • We can’t eliminate the neckline entirely.
    In any situation where we can’t eliminate the neckline, we will use the same color fabric filler behind the open neckline so that the neckline is inconspicuous.


Necklines are a fact of life in the T-shirt quilt world. Sometimes they just have to be included. In those cases, we include the neckline over cutting off a graphic.

If you ask us not to use necklines, we will avoid them if possible. If it is impossible to avoid a neckline, we will back the area behind the neck with a matching piece of material. 

 To learn more about the different types, styles and qualities of T-shirts, download our T-shirt Quilt Buyer’s Guide. 
It’s a great place to begin your journey to finding a quilt maker.
T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide

The quilt here is made from dance outfits. We used contrasting colors behind the "Leo's" and other dance outfits to emphasize the shapes of the outfits.

March 2 dance outfits 

Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.