Finishing Necklines & Arm Holes with Bias Binding

I mentioned in my Monthly Roundup post that I followed along with the Summer Sew Along over at Needle & Foot Fine Fabrics.  Since I needed to finish all the edges still, I thought I’d share how I do it.  Finishing necklines & arm holes & doing hems is always something I put off!  It’s kind of silly since it really doesn’t take that long & then I’ll have something new to wear.  Maybe I should just pretend I need to finish for a blog post every time!  ; )

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The Materials

I’m starting with my mostly finished top & single fold 1/2″ bias binding.  This pattern {Butterick B6024} comes with a piece for the binding which I’ll talk about more later in the post.

Pre-made single fold bias tape comes folded in 3rds with a small space between the edges.

Pre-made bias tape is a great option if you want to buy/have less yardage of the fabric you’re using or just want a little contrast.

Attaching the Bias Tape

The first thing I do before attaching bias tape is figure out where my joining point is.  I’m using the shoulder seam for this because it’s a little straighter than the underarm seam.  Open up the bias tape and center it over your joining point.  Mark the edges of the bias tape on the shirt fabric.  More about this in the “Joining the Bias Tape” section.

I want to open up one edge to align with the edge of the armhole {1}.  You’ll notice that it doesn’t lay down very well & can be hard to maneuver around the curves {2}.  My trick for dealing with this is to take a hot iron and press the bias tape around the curves {3}.  This also helps the edge lay down without losing the crease.

The underarm seam of my top has a “V” shape to it.  This is because I made some fitting adjustments along the way.  I folded the bias tape over to one side & hit it with the iron to get around the “V”.

The ends need to extend about 1″ to 2″ beyond the marks made in the first step.  I will start/stop my stitching at the points marked by the pins, which are even {more or less} with the ends of the bias tape.

The sewing machine I’m using has a setting to center the needle & a notch on the presser foot that matches.  I’m aligning the notch edge with the crease in the bias tape.  This makes the stitching line just to the right of the crease, not in the crease.  This will make folding a little easier.

Here’s a close up of the stitching after it’s done ~>

Joining the Bias Tape

Once the bias tape is attached between the pins, cut the ends even with the marks from the first step.  You’ll cut the bias tape on the left even with the mark further to the right & the bias tape on the right even with the mark further to the left.  To make this a little less confusing {hopefully!}, make sure the bias tape crosses the center point between the marks before cutting.  Also see picture below.

Bring the ends together with right sides facing as shown below.  Mark a line from corner to corner for stitching.

Pin, stitch, & trim seam.  Press into place & stitch remaining opening.

The bias tape at the neckline opening is just folded over & will be caught when stitching down the bias tape.

Finishing Up

Press the seam towards the bias tape.  Stitch thru the bias tape & seam about an 1/8″ away from the seam stitch line.  This is called understitching & will help give a smoother, crisper edge to the neckline & armhole.

Press the bias tape to the inside of the garment, creasing again at the “V” corner.

You can use a slip stitch or machine stitch to hold down the bias tape.  I’m using a double stitched line for my neckline & armhole because I like the contrast of the stitching.

Pin everything in place to prevent movement.  I like to use dressmakers pins for this because of the smaller heads.  They can be hard to grab, so I keep a pair of bent nose tweezers nearby to help out!  I really need one of these Zirkel Magnetic Pin Organizer nearby so I don’t have to pause & put pins back in the pincushion mid sewing!  {Stocking stuffer!}

Now my armholes & neckline have a finished edge I can be proud of!

Here’s my finished shirt ~>

I’m looking forward to pairing this with some capris & sandals for hot summer days!  Linking up to the Sew Along Finish over at Needle & Foot Fine Fabrics.  Make sure to check out everyone else’s makes!

Pin it for later! 

finishing necklines and arm holes

Don’t forget – Craftsy classes are under $20 until July 4th!  They have so many great Sewing Classes!  Everything from beginning basics to fitting to couture finishes.  I’m eyeballing Essential Guide to Tailoring:  Finishing, which looks like an awesome class to help add to my finishing techniques.



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  1. Guida says:

    That top looks really pretty and I love the tutorial, you should have been my Home Economics teacher, pity you weren’t born yet!! Thanks heaps for this.

    • Kristie Cook says:

      I think being a Home Ec teacher would be so much fun! They barely have home ec here anymore & that makes me a little sad.

      • Guida says:

        My daughter is home schooled , so not sure what they do here either, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have cancelled it too. I know that most schools don’t have art either, such a same.

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