Binding A Neck Opening

Some of my new girls’ tops patterns have an opening at the neck but no seam, and need to be bound.  I have noticed online that people are very inventive in how to deal with this situation, some with more success than others.  I haven’t seen anyone use the traditional tried and tested way, which is a shame because it produces really good results and is not difficult to do.  So I thought I would share this technique with you and a variation of it.

I have used two different colours for the main fabric and the binding and also a contrasting colour for the stitching so you can see what I’ve done.  They will look so much better in the same fabric with matching thread.  In fact, you will hardly notice it at all and you won’t have a gap in your fabric, just an opening which closes completely.

First measure and draw a line on your fabric in tailor’s chalk where the opening is going to be (but don’t cut it).

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Cut some bias binding (on the diagonal) four times the width of your finished binding.  (I want my binding to be 6 mm wide, which is tiny but good practice for sewing children’s clothes, so I have cut my bias binding 24 mm wide.)  Iron the binding flat.  You will need to cut two strips about 1 cm longer than your drawn line.

Place one strip on your fabric with one edge along the chalk line and pin.  Repeat the other side of the chalk line with the second strip.  Next sew the first strip to the fabric 6 mm away from the line.  Repeat with the second strip.

Cut along the chalk line to about 6 mm from the bottom, then turn the fabric over and clip a small diagonal cut into each corner leaving a triangle at the bottom, being careful not to cut your binding strips.

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Double fold the bias binding over to the back of the fabric and hand sew in place around the cut raw edges.  (If you wish to machine sew them, cut them 2 mm wider initially, make sure they cover the stitching at the back and stitch ‘in the ditch’ from the front.)

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From the front, lift the fabric and push the small triangle through to the back.  Sew a line of stitching across the triangle and both strips of binding.  This forms the base of the opening.

You now have a neatly bound neck opening with no gaps.  When I use this on a garment, I then trim the ends of the binding strips and neaten them and the triangle with a row of zigzag stitches – but I am extra fussy, you don’t need to do this!

For the variation you will need your bias binding strip to be four times the width of your finished binding and two and a half times the length of the finished opening.

Start by pinning your strip next to your chalk line.  At the bottom fold the strip at right angles.  Then fold it underneath and back up the other side of the chalk line, forming a triangle at the bottom.

Remaining 6 mm from the line, sew down one side, across the bottom and back up the other side.  Cut along the chalk line and clip into the bottom corners towards the stitching, forming a small triangle as with the first variation.  Push the binding strip through the gap, double fold on the back and hand sew or top stitch in place.

These both work really well and they join all the way down!  I know I’m really picky, but I don’t like to see a gap.  Keyhole neck openings are gorgeous and I often make them, but these straight bound or faced openings can be made without a gap.

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These techniques are used in my new blouse patterns for girls and can be found in my Girls’ Patterns section in my Etsy shop.  I will be doing a tutorial in a couple of weeks on attaching facings which will also be useful for sewing clothes.

 

 

Binding Raw Edges

Bias binding is simply a strip of fabric cut on the diagonal to make it stretchy which is used to bind a raw edge.  I have used these techniques in my girls’ blouses.

To make your bias binding find the diagonal by folding your fabric into a triangle and cut a strip off the fold, four times the width of your final binding**.  Fold the bias binding in half lengthways and iron.  Fold both sides into the centre fold and iron.  Then fold the whole strip in half and iron again.

If you need to join two pieces of binding, place them at right angles to each other with right sides together and sew a diagonal seam.  Trim and iron.

I have seen people (including a professional wedding dress maker) sewing to near the end of a strip of binding, folding over the raw edge of a second piece, placing it under the end of the first piece and continuing to sew.  I’m not sure about this, it does leave a noticeable bump.  But it is easy and quick, so it’s up to you.

Hand Sewn Bias Binding.

This will produce a decorative edge with no visible stitching.  To bind a raw edge pin the bias binding to the right side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease, fold over to the inside and hand sew in place.

 

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This is the one I use the most.  The stitching is invisible but it takes a while to do which is not normally a problem for me as I like to hand sew.

Machine Top Stitched Bias Binding.

A neat row of machine stitching will be visible.  Pin the bias binding to the wrong side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease, fold over to the right side and sew a line of top stitching close to the edge.

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This is not a bad result.  It is neat and was quick, but it is a bit flat and you can see that stitching.

Traditional Machine Sewn Bias Binding.

**Cut your bias binding 2 mm wider than normal.  When you fold and iron it, remember to have the crease 2 mm off centre, so that when you fold the sides into this crease and iron you will have the second side of binding wider than the first.

Pin it to the right side of the fabric.  Sew along the first crease (the narrower of the two).  Fold over to the wrong side, ensuring it covers the stitch line and pin in place.  From the right side sew a line of top stitching ‘in the ditch’ just below the binding.  It will catch the binding on the back but miss the binding on the front.

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This one has definitely turned out the best.  The stitching cannot be seen, but as I used a machine the stitching is firm and has pulled the fabric together giving the actual binding a more rounded appearance and it didn’t take any longer than the machine top stitched version.  (I just need to remember to make it 2 mm wider and to fold it 2 mm off centre.)

It has been really useful to make all three versions at the same time with the same fabric for comparison.  I will probably use the third version the most from now on instead of sewing it all by hand.

To avoid a lump at an underarm seam, whichever method you have chosen, once you have pinned your binding on, sew the ends together, trim and iron open before sewing the binding to the garment.

Self Binding For Gathered Edges.

This is for when you want to neaten a seam that is made up of a gathered piece of fabric and a flat piece of fabric such as attaching a sleeve or a gathered skirt to a bodice.

Sew the gathered fabric to the flat fabric with a straight seam and trim half the seam allowance from the gathered fabric but not the flat fabric.  Double fold the flat piece over the trimmed gathers and top stitch in place.

This provides a really good looking, non bulky finish that doesn’t really take any longer than trimming and zigzag stitching or over-locking the edges.

My Deer and Doe Datura

The Deer and Doe Datura is a really popular pattern and so many people have posted pictures of their versions online.  I have spent hours looking at them. Seriously, hours!  I just love this pattern. Some people are so inventive with their use of fabric and make really effective colour and pattern choices.  Sadly, I do not, but I live in hope that one day inspiration will strike.

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t manage to buy this pattern, I drafted my own version.  There are a few suppliers listed in the UK but nobody seemed to have any in stock and I’m too impatient to wait for one to be posted from France.  A few months ago I made myself a block for a top from draping my tailor’s dummy, and all the tops I have made since then have been adapted from this. This one involved more changes than most, though.

True to my indecisive nature choosing fabric posed its usual dilemmas so I ended up buying enough for two tops.  In fairness, I would have gone back to buy more to make a second one anyway, so actually, I saved money on fuel.

The first one I made was the peach and cream Datura version with the cut out triangles.  I have read that the bodice construction was causing some confusion as most of us have been used to turning both pieces the right side out, machine sewing one shoulder seam and then hand sewing the lining to finish.  But by only turning one piece the right side out and inserting it into the other piece, you can machine both seams and sew the seam allowances flat to finish them neatly, then when you turn the other piece the right side out it’s finished with no hand sewing to do – brilliant!  This is going to be my preferred technique for lined bodices in the future.  The recommended way of turning under the lower bodice lining to finish is the way I always do it except that I would normally hand hem it instead of machine top sewing from the right side. This is actually the first completely machine sewn garment I’ve made and that includes the buttons.  I like the finish you get with hand sewing so this is slightly outside my comfort zone but I am happy with the results.  I chose not to put in buttonholes as I can get the top on and off without them and it eliminates the worry of someone undoing them without me noticing which could be embarrassing – and drafty.

Patrick Grant of The Great British Sewing Bee made a comment last week about a top with buttons down the back needing to stay closed at the bottom but I have made mine to separate at the bottom as I think it looks much nicer especially when worn with a short cardigan.  So I made the back of the green and white one the same way and found these gorgeous green and diamante buttons to complete it.  They cost about the same amount as the fabric but I think they’re quite cute and worth it.

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I thought the peter pan collar version might be easier to do than the triangle cut out version as I found it fairly tricky to attach the bias binding in the right place (it would have been quite simple if I had just put it on my tailor’s dummy to pin it, but for some reason I didn’t think of that at the time).  However, with the second version it was hard to judge where to sew when I got to the middle of the collar so I ended up drawing a guide line in tailor’s chalk.  Again, if I had thought to do that in the first place it would have been very straight forward.  Still, I’ll know next time.

These tops do take a little time to make but I just love them so much I will be making more of them very soon.