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The Boatneck

The boatneck (or bateau neckline) is simple and elegant - or it can be easy-breezy and casual. This is a shape that is flattering on virtually everyone!

green top with boatneck neckline

In a navy and white horizontal stripe, it's a classic French sailor's jersey; in any color, it's a basic that's worn year-round.

Put it on a dress and add jewelry - it's the perfect backdrop for a long necklace. Or put it on a cotton knit top, and it makes your favorite jeans a little bit more classy.

How to Draft a Bateau Neckline


This is a very simple variation on the close-fitting neckline of the blouse block. It is a relatively straight, wide, and high neckline.


To make the bateau neckline, raise the center front neckline approximately 1/2”. 

Mark a point at the center of the shoulder seam for the width of the neckline.


pattern draft for front boatneck top

Join the 2 points with a VERY gentle curve. When worn, the neckline should appear almost straight across the neck.

pattern draft for back of boatneck top

On the back bodice, lower the center back neck  about 1/2”. The back neck is actually scooped out a bit.

Again, mark a point at the center of the shoulder seam and join the points with a gentle curve.


The back neck may seem lower than the front at this point, but it is not. Since the front neck is much lower than the back in the original draft, raising the front and lowering the back a bit does not change the overall balance at the neckline.

This neckline is best used with a knit fabric, as it pulls over the head easily.

The neckline could be finished with knit binding, bias tape, a facing, or a simple turn-and-stitch hem.

If using a woven fabric, it should have a facing, and an opening in the back of the garment (either a keyhole at the back neck, or a back zipper).

You'll find MUCH more information about collars and necklines in the in-depth tutorial, A Beginner's Guide to Necklines and Collars.  Learn to draft cowl necklines, shawl collars, stand collars, shirt collars, scoop necklines, squared necklines - and variations of all of these! 

Check out the Beginner's Guide to Necklines and Collars now!

More Collars and Necklines

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