Marianne Dress Sew-Along: The Neck Binding

Today in the Sew-Along we are going to attach the neck binding to our Marianne Dresses. This step can be tricky, so if you have never done this technique before, it's worthy to give it a practice run before sewing it up on your finished dress.

Also, it should be noted, in the instructions that come with the pattern, I list sewing the neck binding prior to sewing the side seams. Either order is correct, it's more a matter of ease. Some find it easier to work with the neck area with the side seams still open, but know that either order is fine. One doesn't effect the other, so it's up to you which you do first.

Okay, let's get to sewing!

Fold your neck binding in half with the short ends together, right sides facing. Pin the short end. Above I have the white binding for my version of View B, and the navy binding for View A.

Sew the short ends together with the usual 3/8" seam allowance. For a serger just sew it as is. For a conventional machine, sew with your stretch stitch and trim the seam allowance in half. 

Press the seam allowance to one side for a serger seam, press open for a conventional machine. A sleeve board will prove very helpful for this and the next step. 

Fold the neck binding in half, wrong sides together. Line up the raw edges and press along the center fold. 

Use the same steps for either View A or B as pictured above.

All of the following steps are for either View A or View B, though View B is shown. For View A, the collar will be sandwiched between the binding and the neckline, but all the steps remain the same.

Fold the neckline in half and line up the shoulder seams. Line up the neckline at the front and without stretching the neckline, find the center point of the front and mark with a pin.

Repeat along the back of the neckline so you have both the center front and center back marked.

Line up the seam of the neck binding at the center back and pin in place. The raw edges of the binding should be flush with the raw edges of the neckline. Line up the center front of the neckline with the center point of the neck binding. To find this point, either fold the neck binding in half and mark with a pin or water soluble marking tool, or transfer the mark from the neck binding pattern piece. Pin the center front the same as you did at the center back with the raw edges together. The fold on the neck binding is facing down toward the dress.

Repeat the above process by finding the halfway point of the neck binding between the center front and center back and matching it up with the halfway point of the neckline. Note: this will not be at the shoulder seam, so do not use that as your guide! Repeat on the opposite side so you have four evenly pinned spots around the neckline as pictured above.

Carefully stretch the neck binding to fit the neckline and pin in place. This is a very fussy step and some knits stretch more than others, so this step might prove to be tricky. If you find that you have to stretch the neck binding a lot, you might want to consider cutting a slightly longer binding piece to accommodate for the lack of stretch. The binding should only require a little bit of stretch to fit.

I like to start at the center back and stretch the binding (but not the neckline) a little bit and pin, then continue around until I hit the center front. Once I get there, I check to see how evenly distributed the stretch is, then work my way back from the center front toward the center back, spreading the binding out and spacing the pins accordingly. Then I work the other half of the neckline until it's all pinned, as pictured above.

If you are working on a serger and have never sewn anything in the round before, do yourself a favor a try a few practice runs first. Sewing in the round is quite different than sewing with a beginning and end of the stitch line, since you are cutting off your seam allowance while sewing, so you have to veer into the seam, then out and off the seam, all at the 3/8" seam allowance. Since it's trimming off the excess, there's no room for error here. Once you're ready, start just after the center back seam so you're not sewing over the seam in the binding. Start on a slight angle and sew until you hit your seam allowance.

Once you're at the 3/8" seam allowance, keep sewing around the neckline, stretching the binding to fit the neckline between each pin. This can be tricky so take your time!

When you reach your starting point, keep sewing until your stitch line meets up evenly with the starting stitches and quickly, but smoothly, turn off the fabric for an even exit.

For a conventional machine, use the stretch stitch you've been using and simply sew around the neckline at 3/8" seam allowance. Trim the seam down in half after sewing.

Press the seam allowance away from the neckline, towards the dress, and breath a sigh of relief! This dress isn't complicated, but this can be a tricky step, so take your time and do some test runs first so when you sew your dress you feel confident and sure of success!

Tomorrow we hem! So if you're making View A, that's the final step! For View B ladies, we'll finish with the cuff and buttons next week! Yay!