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.  It's 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 the 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 the raw edge of binding even with raw edge of the neckline.  Sew halfway 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 reposition 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.  We have a Racerback tank t-shirt pattern coming out tomorrow that you will really love.  To get the perfect finish on your neckline and armholes, you'll want to use this mini bias facing.

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42 Responses to Use Bias Tape for a Neckline or Arm Hole Facing

  1. nita garland says:

    how do i save this to my tablet for reference next month.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      You can google how to save a document in a tablet depending on the type you have. you will find close to 200 Million articles about it.

  2. Donna Kenyon Smith says:

    I have a really hard time putting the starting and ending bias tape together so it looks neat. Additional information would be helpful

  3. Magdalena Martin says:

    Me ha encantado Maira. Muchísimas gracias por tu buena explicación. La fotografías son muy esclarecedoras.
    Quería preguntarte una cosa. Hace tiempo que hecho de menos a Debby. Se encuentra bien. La seguía desde hace años. Por favor podrías darme noticias de ella. Saludos desde España. Muchísimas gracias.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hola Magdalena, le compre la página a Deby en Noviembre de 2015, ella está en Europa no se exactamente donde. Se encuentra bien se ha retirado y viaja por toda Europa, creo que ese es el plan que tiene. Saludos, me encanta tu pais, se come bien, la gente es muy amable y alegre, la arquitectura, los museos y los artesanos geniales que más se puede pedir?

  4. hallowmac says:

    Thanks for the tutorial.
    One thing wasn’t clear for me. When you start the bias tape under the arm, do you turn back a little fabric on the short end, so that you don’t have a raw edge showing when you come to the end?
    Also, do you cross over the beginning of the end tape on top of the ending of the bias tape, or do you just butt the two ends together. I was hoping to see a picture of how you finished the bias tape under the arms BEFORE you turned the bias tape to the back-side of the fabric. You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?
    Again, thanks for the tutorial. I have really enjoyed your website and have learned a lot.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      True it is not clear. There are a few ways to do it. So I will have to explain the three methods in a separate tutorial.

  5. Barb says:

    I do have two brief comments. You didn’t tell folks which side of the garment the binding was sewn on. This would be good to know for a novice sewist. Also, you didn’t advise how to stitch the two ends of the binding together. This can be a tricky thing and would need to be explained. Otherwise, the tutorial was really good. I loved the other suggestion regarding a contrasting binding brought to the right side of the garment. If you pick a striped fabric the binding can really be complimentary.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      True and true, the post needs a second part to illustrate the three ways to join and finish the bias tape around a neckline.

  6. Marshielle Smith says:

    This also works really well to create a contrast binding on the right side of the garment. The only change needed is to start with the binding pinned to the wrong side of the garment.

  7. pammese says:

    Excellent tutorial! I’ve been needing some new cotton knit nightgowns for the summer but the neckline finish was putting me off. Not any more! Many thanks.

  8. Sam and Marsha Land says:

    thank you so much I have struggled but have gooten better but I think this will give me a better product

  9. Ahmad Farodhi says:

    Thanks for information .. happy sewing 🙂

  10. Fran says:

    Thank you so much, I have tried different versions of this instrument, but your instruction guide has been most helpful. I feel confident that my next project will have a professional finish.

  11. mymoena says:

    thank you . Great help. Have been struggling with neat finishing.

  12. Dianne says:

    My question concerns joining the tape. Do you lap the binding and do you leave the ends if the binding bare or fold it over please where joining? Sorry, I am a little confused and would like to see a photo of the joining?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Diane, a very good question that can only be explained properly on a video or a step by step tutorial. I will write it up, stay tuned.

  13. rukhsana says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. Becky Farmer says:

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

  16. 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. 🙂

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

  18. 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 ?

  19. Karen says:

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

  20. Brilliant!! Thank you! xxx

  21. 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.

  22. Kristina & Millie says:

    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?

  23. 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…..

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

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