Unless you wish to walk around with unraveling seams at the Neck and Armholes you will need to settle for a way to finish off these and some other edges.
The bottom of garments are usually finished off with some sort of hem which you can review if you refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Draft - Hems and Seam Allowances.
There are lots of options that you can go with and you can be as creative as you like, there are three main types of finishing for a garment that are usually used;
Each option comes with its own advantages and it comes down to personal choice in the end and its appropriateness for the garment that you wish to create.
Bindings are long strips of fabric that are used to bind, neaten and encase raw edges. A Bias Binding is simply a long strip of fabric cut on the Bias Grainline that allows for a better binding for a curved raw edge as it allows for a little more flexibility in the stretch. Usually a Bias Binding will give a good finish to an edge.
You can buy Bindings ready-made or use tape or ribbon or you can make your own Bindings which are easy to do.
Bindings in my opinion are actually harder to sew than a Facing or a Lining but only because you are dealing with smaller pieces that require very accurate sewing. On the other hand they can add an element of comfort in a warm climate you may not need a Facing or Lining or if you are using a very light fabric you perhaps would not want a Facing to weigh it down. They can also give you an added dimension to your clothing design as you can sew them so that they show visibly on the outside. You also have a multitude of options when deciding how they are going to look and also they don’t flap around like a facing can do and don’t ever pop out of the garment showing everyone what is going on inside of the bodice.
Once you have your Binding whether it is bought or made you can use them on your Necklines, Armholes, Seams as Seam Stays or to bind Seam edges, Hems or use then as an Applique and stitch them straight on top of the garment. They can be sewn to enclose a raw edge or to assist with folding a raw edge to the inside or they can go beyond the garment outline and stick out from the raw edge to extend the garment, they can be straight or shaped or any width and be made out of any kind of fabric you desire. So in fact they are the most flexible edge finish option that you have.
Even though Bindings are simply strips of fabric it does not mean that they are cheaper to use than a Facing or a Lining if you are using a Bias Binding and cutting on a Bias Grainline you can be cutting across a large mass of fabric in order to make them and should consider pattern layout on the fabric if you are going to do this to fit in pattern pieces between the bias fabric that you need for binding. It usually means that you will need to buy extra fabric to creating Bias Bindings.
Bindings need to be as long as the edge that you are binding to get the best results, although to create them you do need to join pieces together, if you can find a piece large enough in the Binding you have that is long enough without a seam in it all the better.
Bindings can be any width and the design and construction method used may help to determine the width required. Initially to work out the width assess how much will be on the outside the inside and what you will use for seam allowance and turn of the cloth.
Bias Binding is either Single Fold or Double Fold. Single Fold tape has its two edges pressed into the middle and is mostly used for bias facing. Double Fold also has its two edges pressed into the middle but has also been pressed down the centre and is mostly used for bias binding.
Bias Facing is where a bias tape is sewn onto a raw edge on the anterior side and then folded over to the posterior so it’s not shown on the finished garment, it is not cut to shape like a Facing it stretches to fit using the bias cut.
Binding is where a bias tape is encloses the raw edge on the anterior and posterior side of the fabric to clasp it and seal it up.
Creating your own Bias Strip
You don’t need to draft a pattern for a Bias Strip you can cut it straight from the fabric.
Decide how wide you want your Bias Binding a heavy fabric will require a wider Bias Binding as it will take up width at each turn of the cloth so keep this in mind. In this example I have used 1 ½” which is a very standard measurement for a Bias Binding.
Measure how long you will need to make your Binding Strip, as you are going to join the pieces together measure the total length required which for a bodice may be ((Armhole + overlap) *2) + Front Neckline + Back Neckline + overlap and I always cut just a little longer to give me some to play with or in case I need to unpick and redo. If you have any left over from any project you can always use it for something else like a zip purse or a pocket etc.
Ensure that the fabric you are using has been ironed square so that it is not skewed in any way, try to get the Grainline as straight as possible and lay the fabric down on a cutting board.
You can either do immediate cuts if you have a large cutting board a long quilters ruler and a cutting tool, otherwise you will need to mark each line before you lift the fabric to cut it.
You need to work out at 45 degree line on your fabric, you could fold the fabric edge up to meet the selvage but in my experience this does not always give you an accurate angle especially then dealing with lighter fabrics. So I place a see through quilters ruler on the selvage edge of the fabric lining it up through a square to get a more accurate 45 degree angle, then you can either mark out the line with a soluble pen or chalk or just cut along the line.
A closer look at this picture and you can see not only have I lined up the fabric on the ruler I am also making use of my cutting mat as well to help with lining up the ruler across the inch marks both vertically and horizontally, use what tools you have to make it work.
Leaving the fabric in place measure out lengthwise the 1 ½” width and either draw this in or cut it.
The fabric I used here is very small just for demonstration pieces but you will be cutting across your fabric essentially from selvage to selvage if you want really long pieces. You need to cut the lines as long as possible as shorter pieces require more joins.
You then need to join your strips together by placing them together with Anterior (Right, Front, Top, and Printed) Sides Facing at 90 degrees to each other. If it helps pin them and draw on or tack a stitching line, after a while you will get used to sewing them and will not need to draw in a line.
I do admit to over doing the overlap but I want to always ensure that I get from edge to edge in the corners of the little square that is created in the overlap but you can pull back a little if you like, I have learned from my mistakes and feel more comfortable with a fuller overlap although it means cutting a little more off later.
If you need to draw a line to assist when sewing this is where you draw it otherwise pick up both pieces and sew corner to corner.
Here it is sewn, I do back stitch at the beginning and the end of the stitching line to secure the binding if you don’t you risk it coming apart after being fixed onto the garment which is not something you want to deal with.
To neaten the Seam Allowance trim it down to around ¼”.
Press the Seam as usual including, Sandwich Press, Press Seam Allowances open and turn and Press Anterior Side of fabric.
You will need to trim off the little excess top and bottom of the Seam.
Here is the finished join.
You continue on joining pieces until the Bias Binding is the length required you can store it as is I wind it onto a spare bobbin or piece of cardboard to keep it organised until needed or you can iron it to create the folds.
For a Single Fold Binding press in the raw edges towards the centre lengthwise by at least ¼” for a Seam Allowance. For a Double Folded Binding fold the Binding in half after pressing in the raw edges. You can buy little Bias Binding tools to help you do this, I have a wonderful little machine that I use that folds and presses at the same time, and all I have to do is stand and watch!
A Facing just like Bindings will finish off a raw edge and will sit on the inside of the garment out of sight. They can also add strength and longevity to a garment as lots of the wear and tear will be on the inside as you move. Facings can be created as a separate piece and sew on or simply an extension of the garment and then folded underneath.
Facings don’t have to be made with the same fashion fabric. Indeed having a different coloured/patterned facing can give a design element to the inside of the garment.
Facings unlike linings do not go all the way down a garment on the inside an can be added on their own or can be sewn to lining which is also on the inside, a lining will give a lighter weight option to the rest of the garment on the inside. Although you could go without facing and just use a lining.
It’s a common dilemma as to whether to use a Facing or a lining or both. In both instances you are finishing the raw edges inconspicuously. A Facing however offers a little more support for the shape of the Neckline and Armhole as it is a thicker fabric than a lining. Facings requires less fabric than a lining so it is a little more economical and there is less sewing to do.
A facing is a copy of the pattern piece but only for part of it they would not usually go all the way down a pattern piece. Lots of manufacturers only make Facings a couple of inches wide and personally I find this sometimes irritating, there is nothing worse than you facing popping out and showing everyone your dress size!
Personally on a Top or Dress I would consider creating a facing all the way down to the Waist or if you have a thicker fabric which might make this uncomfortable or too much bulk I would add a lining to the facing to keep everything in place. I would never create any part of a Facing smaller than 2 ½” on any body size.
Therefore I create all in one Facings, in other words I would not face just a Neckline independently of an Armhole. I would not split a Facing from Side to Side either, I would create a Facing for the Front and a Facing for the Back so that there is not a seam adding more bulk in the middle.
So to make a facing you would simple take your finished Flexible Pattern (after creating a Test Garment and fitting and alterations) and mark on where you would like you’re Facing to go down to.
Let’s have a look at both a Bodice and a Skirt using the mini Templates to help demonstrate how to draft an all in one Facing.
On this Bodice mock up the Shoulder and Armhole Darts have been manipulated out and closed and the Side Dart has been dropped down into a French Dart to allow some space for the Facing to ensure that fabric bulk is minimised of course this is personal choice.
Mark down the Centre Front from the Neckline at least 2 ½”.
At the side you will need to consider the Dart, when a Dart is sewn you have Dart Bulk if you add Facing behind it you are increasing the bulk again so if possible without changing your design try to fit the Facing in above the Dart. Now if you can’t do that to such an extent that this makes your Facing really short under the Armhole I would consider adding a lining to keep the Facing in place because although you can stitch down a Facing at Seamlines they can pop out if they are cut too short.
Mark down the Side at least 2 ½” from the Armhole.
Then you need to connect the two points. You could draw a straight line across but straight lines have no give in them and you don’t want the Facing to pull tight across the Bust so by creating a curved shape you allow more movement and less pressure on the bust. It helps therefore if you curve the line around the breast somewhat.
You can see the line for the Facing drawn in this photo in green pen.
Before the Facing is traced off into a separate pattern piece it helps to mark Notches on the Flexible Pattern to help position the Facing when sewing. Adding them at the Base of the Facing on the Centre Front and on the side and to help align the Armhole and Facing on the Cross Front Guideline at the Armhole.
A Note about Linings: The shape above the line makes up the Facing. If you were to add a lining at the bottom of the Facing you would trace off the pattern below the line and that would be your Lining Pattern, it’s really quite that simple, ensure you add in all notches and other marks for Darts etc.
You can then place the pattern on a separate piece of paper and trace all the way around the Facing and also trace the Notch at the Cross Front position on the Armhole.
It helps if you immediately label the Centre Front and Side on the Facing to help with orientation. Usually you will cut the Facing on the Fold so this can be marked and also a Grainline. All other labels will need to be added as this is now a separate pattern piece in its own right. Also remember to add the Notch in the Armhole.
To get a better fit on the Facing trim the Neckline and the Armhole on the Facing Pattern by around 1/16” which will help the piece sit behind the main garment as when sewn the Facing is dropped ever so slightly on the inside to ensure it is hidden from view. You don’t need to do this on any of the other seams.
You would then repeat the whole process on the Back Draft. Marking the Centre Back at least 2 ½” below the Neckline. The Side mark will need to be in line with the Front position for the bottom of the Facing so you will need to bring the Front in to mark this off.
The Facing Base Line is drawn in.