Use Bias Tape for a Neckline or Arm Hole Facing

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.

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 the 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 on 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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