Use bias tape for a neckline or arm hole facing

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Do you have garments you’ve either made or bought that have facings?  How do you like them?  Some of mine seem to work well, others are too big, floppy, irritating, show through to the right side, or just keep getting in the way somehow.    So how do you finish the edge of a neckline or armhole without facings or doing a full lining?

Have you come across sewing patterns that tell you to simply fold over the raw edge to the inside and stitch in place, either on the neckline or armhole?  That’s fine with knit fabrics that stretch, but on wovens – really!  How is that going to work then, when you have to turn the shorter edge in and make it lie flat against a longer edge? Well, I can tell you that it just doesn’t work and I’ve ended up with all sorts of puckering and nastiness.

This is where the bias tape facing can be a real solution.  Its not all big and floppy or loose like the traditional facing, yet it provides a very neat and smooth finish and makes that raw edge easy to turn in.  You can do it in a matching self-made bias tape or use a commercial or contrast tape.  It’s up to you.

Let’s take a look.

How to sew a bias facing for a neckline.

I didn’t have a current project to work on, so I cut a practice piece of fabric to represent a neckline to be finished.  I also used a couple of very different fabrics and a white thread so you can see where I am working, but you might bind with the same fabric, and a matching thread.  I drew on an approximation of my neckline seam line using a disappearing marker.

TIP: Use a soft and fine fabric that moves easily for your binding. In this example, I was using some scraps and the binding fabric I chose was too thick really and didn’t hold a crease.  Suggested fabrics, satin, charmeuse, cotton, viscose, rayon etc

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge.  Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

First measure your neckline, along the seam line and add on about 4-6 inches to give yourself something to work with.  Then you’ll need a piece of bias binding.  You can buy this in a plain contrasting fabric, or you can make your own using the fabric of your garment.  Take a look at these tutorials on how to make your own bias tape.

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric. No more fiddly sewing strips together. Continuous bias binding calculator. Work out how much you will get from a square, or what size square you will need. How to turn sharp corners with bias binding

Fold your tape in half along the length and press, without stretching it out of shape. This is ‘single-fold’ bias tape.  This is what we will use around the neckline and armhole edges in place of a full facing.  I’m using a 2 inch strip folded in half to make 1 inch single fold tape.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

Stay-stitch the curve, neckline or armhole.  Normal stitch length, just inside the 1/2 inch seam line. This will help to stop the curve stretching out as you work on it.  Do handle your fabric carefully and avoid letting it hang or these curved edges can stretch and then getting a smooth finish will be much harder.

Start and end at center back, leave a tail, a couple of inches or so from center.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

Keep raw edge of binding even with raw edge of neckline.  Sew half way across the width of the tape, taking a half inch of tape on either side of the stitch line.  Stitch slowly and carefully around the curve, stopping where you need to, to lift the presser foot and re-position the tape.  Don’t stretch the bias as you sew, but do concentrate of getting the fabric under the presser foot flat, and don’t worry if it creates some small ripples on the inside of the curve, that’s fine.

NOTE – The fabric should be flat along the stitching/seam line and can ripple a bit on the inside.  If you follow the raw edges, keeping these flat, when you turn later, the binding could be a little too tight.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

Arrive back 2 inches from center, join the tape, cut and press seam open.  Finish sewing the binding in place between the areas where you started and finished the stitching. On an armhole, start and finish at the underarm seam.

Trim back through all layers half the width of the seam allowance.  Clip around the curves to help your mini-facing to lie flat.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

Press all layers up towards the facing.

Turn the facing now towards the inside, into the neckline and press again.  Allow the facing to turn about 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch inside the seam line so that it won’t be visible from the outside once sewn.  Steam and pressing is your friend here.

Pin in place.  For the best possible result, hand baste the facing in place, or if you are confident, you can just pin.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

Sew all the way around the neckline, binding facing upwards, close to the inside fold and keeping your stitching an even distance from the neckline edge.  Give the entire neckline a final press and you are done.

This method of finishing can be used on both necklines and armholes.

How to add a bias tape binding to a neckline or armhole to finish the raw edge. Not too difficult and gives a super-smart finish.

So why am I telling you all this?  I have a feeling you might be using this method soon.  The Easy Breezy Blouse pattern is currently in development, and all being well, will be released in June.  To get the perfect finish on your armholes, you’ll want to use this mini bias facing.

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24 Responses to Use bias tape for a neckline or arm hole facing

  1. rukhsana says:

    may allah reward u with best what he thinks best for u aameen

  2. Barbara says:

    How does this apply to v-necks? All the illustrations seemed to be for oval or rounded necks, armholes. I am working with a costume that has a v neck.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      You are correct, the instructions given are for oval, round necks and armholes, for a v neck you need to pivot the corner and shape the v by pinching the bias tape into a tiny dart.

  3. Becky Farmer says:

    Thanks so much Deby, this post is just what I’ve been looking for xx

  4. Kathy Ryan says:

    Thank you for this tutorial Deby! I am a beginner and already made a few tops. At first I thought I was going mad when the instructions called for this technique. Once I got the hang of doing this, the top looked just like the one in the shop! I have bookmarked this page. 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for this tute! I have been having a hard time with this.

  6. patti says:

    Okay my pattern calls for single fold bias. I know how to sew it on but when my machine goes over the thickness of the material and bias when adding the yolk at the neck line it won’t sew over it do you take the bias all the way up to the end of thematerial or just up to the adjoining top seam ?

  7. Karen says:

    OMG! You have solved my problem. No more fighting with bias tape! Thank you!

  8. Brilliant!! Thank you! xxx

  9. Zylo says:

    Is this not a normal way to do it? I’m just beginning to sew and am trying to soak up all the information I can for when I feel brave enough to try bias tape. It seems so complicated!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Everyone will have their favorite ways of doing things and finishing seams and edges. Sometimes a pattern will call for a particular way, but if you have a preference you can always change things to do it however you like. Often arm holes don’t need to be finished this way if they have a sleeve, a facing or a lining. Some patterns will just tell you to turn the raw edge to the inside. So it all depends on many factors really.

      • Zylo says:

        Oh, I get it! It looks really nice for “unfinished” edges though. Or to add a pop of color if you have pretty bias tape. Thanks for the clarification.

  10. love all your tutorials! I added a page to our blog for free patterns and tutorials – ok to link your site up to the sewing page?

  11. Lori M. says:

    Hi Deby, I have been using bias tape for years on my girls nightgowns, now I am doing the same for granddaughters…..

  12. Amanda says:

    I needed this tutorial 10 days ago. Haha. I seemed to figure it out the second garment I made, but that doesn’t mean I will remember it again so thanks for posting this.

    • Deby Coles says:

      I’ll share a secret with you – at least half of the reason I write about this sort of thing on the site, is so that 3 months from now when I have to do it again, I can check back and see how I did it last time!

  13. Fooniks says:

    This is my favorite technique for finishing necklines and armholes when there’s no lining. It’s so simple and super quick 🙂

    • Deby Coles says:

      I’m converted too. Once I got the hang of it, and realised that the stitching line had to be flat, not the inside of the curve, then it all became clear.

What do you think?