Something that’s really nice to do on a light weight garment, such as a Spring blouse, is to bias bind the neckline instead of using a facing.
In the past, I have been shown a number of ways to sew bias binding to a neckline and the way I sew them now is an amalgamation of the best bits of each. I wanted to share my top tips to sewing a bias bound neckline. I have presumed that you’re familiar with this technique already but if not, a full tutorial will be available on Spread Your Wings and Craft soon.
1. Pinning Precision
I start and stop pinning about 1 inch away from the center back of the neckline (my example here has a center back seam so it’s easier to know where to start and stop).
2. Flatten Any Potential Lumpy Bumpies
I like to pay particular attention to ensure that the seam allowances of the shoulder seams are laying flat. Either pressed open or to the back for French seams (like the example above) will assist in achieving a smooth neckline result.
3. Resist the Temptation to Straighten
The single most important rule (and if you only remember one of my top tips, remember this one) is to allow the neckline to keep its natural curve as it passes under your presser foot. Do you see in the photo above the part of the neckline waiting to be sewn up is curving naturally to the right? I allow it to do that and I don’t straighten it out with my hand. As the fabric goes under the presser foot, I gently pivot it so that as the neckline is sewn, the curve rotates gracefully. Think about the needle on a record… the record doesn’t straighten out but the needle follows the circular groove.
4. Pin With Precision
To get the most precise guide as to where to sew the bias binding together to make a complete loop, pin the remaining parts to the neckline.
Then pin the two loose ends of bias binding together right at the centre back seam.
Remove the neckline pins but keep the pin through the two loose ends in place. Pull the neckline away gently and sew the bias binding together at this pin mark.
5. Achieve Balance
For a centre back seam that is pressed open or a garment with no centre back seam, press the seam allowance of the joined ends of bias binding open.
If, however, you have a French seam at the centre back, press the bias binding to the opposite side as the French seam. This will avoid one side being too bulky and balance everything out at the neckline.
6. When Not to Follow the Fold Line
This is somewhat of a ‘fudge-it’ tip in case your bias binding went a little squiffy when the loose ends were sewn together – let’s face it, the mere fact it’s cut on the bias means it’s prone to going wonky!
So if your join is slightly out (and I mean slightly, any more and it’s worth unpicking and re-sewing it), blend your stitching line between the two instead of following one particular fold line.
7. A Thoughtfully Pressing Matter
Think about the curve that the neckline will fit over on the body – steep and tight at the shoulder but fairly flat across the back. Using a tailor’s ham (or rolled up towel) position your neckline on an area that matches the 3D body and be prepared to move and adjust the pressing aid as you press different parts of the neckline.
8. Under Stitch for Uber Smart Results
Under stitch the bias binding to the seam allowances (matching thread colour to the bias binding is my preference) to get an easy fold to the inside of the garment later. Just like tip 3, follow the natural curve of the neckline and don’t be tempted to straighten it out by hand.
9. Pinning Perfectly
Unruly bias binding (usually ready made!) likes to unfold and ping open. You can tame even the most unruly and narrow bias bindings by pinning diagonally before sewing the final stage.
10. Unpick but Just a Bit
After sewing check all the way round for any puckers or folded over seam allowances. If you find any imperfections, unpick just the problem area and re-sew.