Clean finishing a round neckline is one of the more challenging tasks for sewing beginners. As much as we try to avoid it, almost all dresses and blouses feature necklines that require sewing along a round or curved edge. When you are in the process of learning how to sew, even sewing a straight seam can be quite an undertaking. Now, imagine running your machine needle along a very circular, curved edge- a bit intimidating, right?
Although nothing gets better without practice over time, especially when it comes to sewing, mastering a few sewing techniques like understitching, staystitching and ironing as you go, will eliminate some of the frustration associated with the first few steps of the learning process.
When it comes to the art of sewing necklines, there are plenty of techniques used to clean finish those pesky curved edges.
The most commonly used techniques are: with binding (known as a bound neckline), using a neckline facing (faced), with a stretch band (usually ribbed knit), adding a collar, and using a top-stitched band (the method we'll show you below)
It is true that sewing a topstitched band along a curved neckline is perhaps one of the more difficult methods for finishing a round edge. However, this is a great technique to master if you want to avoid sewing a neck facing.
As opposed to a facing, a topstitched band will not flop to the outside of the garment and is one of the more durable, functional and washer-friendly neckline finishes. Due to the addition of the topstitch, a neckline band is more casual in nature yet still features a somewhat tailored look.
If you have never attempted to sew a neckline band before, keep in mind that this finish is often more suitable for textured, medium-to-heavy weight fabrics. Working with a thicker, textured fabric, especially in the learning process if you are a sewing beginner, will allow you more room for error without jeopardizing the final product.
As a side note: When clean-finsihing the neckline on lightweight, fine fabrics, we recommend using a bound finish instead. This technique features a folded binding along the more vulnerable, round edges of the neckline making them much easier to manipulate without adding unnecessary bulk to the entire neckline area.
Now, back to our task at hand: Clean finishing a raw neckline edge using a topstitched band.
Here are 5 important sewing techniques you will practice when applying this neckline finish:
- Understitching: A stitch applied to the inside of the band to keep it stable and facing towards the inside of the garment. This is an important technique to learn any time you face a task similar in nature to facings and lining.
- Notching and clipping the seam allowance along the most curved edges: This is especially necessary when applying a neckline band (or facing) in order to release tension and allow for a smooth curve in the final edge.
- Ironing every fold and seam as you go: Perhaps the number one rule in sewing- You should get in the habit of always ironing folds and seams during the actual sewing process. Doing so will allow them to remain flat and stable thus making the garment easier to manipulate in the sewing process. Not only does this facilitate sewing, it also allows for a well-made, professional final product.
-Temporary hand basting: As you'll see in the example below, a quick temporary hand basting stitch will keep the neckline band flat and aligned during machine stitching. As a sewing beginner, it is imperative that you use hand basting to hold multiple layers of fabric and more tricky edges in place before final stitching. Doing so will minimize errors until you get more comfortable with your sewing machine. Over time, you will naturally graduate to using just pins. For now however, a temporary hand baste will eliminate the stress of puckering and miss-alignment which often requires a frustrating re-do.
- Lifting the presser foot during machine stitching while leaving the needle inserted in the fabric: Sounds confusing? This one applies mainly to sewing beginners, especially in the case of minimal experience with sewing a very curved seam. The goal when stitching along a curved edge is to follow the seam allowance precisely without jeopardizing the smoothness of the final stitch. As a beginner, achieving this will most likely feel a bit impossible at first. A useful trick is to lift the presser foot during sewing but leave the machine needle inserted in the fabric. Once the fabric is free to move (with the needle still in) re-position the neckline edge in relation to the seam allowance guide for more comfortable stitching. Never stitch with the presser foot up. Once re-aligned, drop the presser foot back down and continue stitching until you feel the need to repeat the process.
Every single one of these elements are important not only for facilitating the sewing process, but also achieving the correct neckline finish. If you understand and learn to apply these basic techniques on curved seams along the neckline, armholes or princess seams, you shouldn't run into any major sewing issues. The great aspect of mastering a topstitched neckline band finish is that its all-in-one construction process will actually allow you to practice all the sewing techniques listed above.
Keep in mind that the easy way is always the correct way. You might be tempted to cut corners, but in reality, by-the-book sewing methods are tried and true to give you the best results with the least headache.
How To Sew a Topstitched Neckline Band:
Use the fabric, patterns, guide and tools provided in the Learn To Sew Box to make an A-line dress from start to finish in your chosen size and fabric print
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