Today we’re going to tackle the neckline of our dress. I’ve tried many techniques in the past to finish the necklines on my wrap dresses – facings, which constantly flip out and annoy me, completely lining the top, which can be bulky and uses a lot more fabric, and doing classic bias binding, which is incredibly tricky with a narrow strip of knit fabric (cue many burned fingertips).
However, one day I had a lightbulb moment and realized that the classic t-shirt neck binding might work, and lo and behold it does! So I’m going to take you through this approach – of course, you can also use one of the other methods I’ve described, or the one in your pattern instructions, but this is a good alternative to know either way.
First, take the interfaced neckline strip that you cut out (to recall, it is 1.5 inches wide by the length of your neckline). Fold it in half wrong sides together, and press in half down the length of the strip (remember to “press” up and down and not slide your iron along, which will distort the fabric).
If you had to connect two pieces together to make a long enough neckline band, here’s a little trick for getting the seam to lie nicely: snip the serged seam in half *just* up to the left needle stitching. Then, push the seam allowance one way above the fold and another way below the fold. When you now go to fold the whole neckline band, it lies flat as there are only 2 layers of fabric rather than 3. You can also use this tip any time you need to serge over an already serged seam.
Now, take the band and pin it to the right side of your neckline, with the raw edges matching – i.e. the “open” side of the folded band should line up against the raw edge of the neckline. If you want, you can wonder tape this rather than pinning.
Over to the machine! Serge the band to the dress at a 3/8 seam allowance – which on a serger means that you’re not cutting any fabric off with the knife, you’re just skimming the edge against the knife.
Now, flip the seam allowance to the inside, so that you’re just seeing about 3/8 inch peeking out on the right side.
Press that baby! Not everyone presses knit fabrics while they’re sewing, but I find it gives a more professional finish. Remember to use a press cloth – I haven’t in these pictures, just so you can see what’s going on.
When you press the band over the shoulders it curves around, so press it over a ham to retain the shaping.
And this is what it should look like.
You now have two options: you can either finish the neckline with a coverstitch or twin needle now, or you can do it later – it depends a little on your personal sewing machine set up. For me, I have to convert my serger to a coverstitch which is a bit laborious so I prefer doing all the serging first, then all the coverstitching. Here’s a great little tutorial on how to use a twin needle on your sewing machine.
To finish the neckline, you stitch just outside the band, catching the seam allowance on the underside of the neckline. Not only does it look good, but it stops the neckline flipping out. It’s quite hard to get it perfect… as you can see, mine isn’t! But no-one notices when you’re wearing it… seriously.
What do you think of this neckband finish? I like it because it looks very neat, and it’s easy to do – in fact easier than on a t-shirt, as there’s no stretching involved!
Join me back here tomorrow for setting sleeves in flat!