During the early stages of my dress for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma, I was challenged many times to come up with a way to finish a v-neckline with bias binding. After several unsuccessful attempts I tried what I call the NEC Technique which evolved through blog comments with Norma and Carol. The NEC Technique is still evolving so I have not created any definitive tutorial on how to carry it through. Instead I will show you how it has worked on my 1930s dress. The rayon faille fabric I’m using has a beautiful drape. It also is very lightweight and some reinforcement is needed to keep darts flat. The seams are finished using hand overcasting, a technique popular among home sewistas in the 1930s.
The NEC Technique stands for Norma, Carol and Emily. Here is a look at how I finished the neckline. It remains flat without any stretching or gaping taking place.
V-neckline finished using NEC technique
Finished neckline with double fold bias binding. The binding is all in one piece around the neckline and is mitered at center front. The first step is to machine stay stitch the front and back neckline using a medium length stitch. Pre-shrunk cotton stay tape is then hand stitched above the sewing line to stabilize the neckline. I used a single strand of waxed and pressed poly thread. The running stitch is more flexible than a back stitch so I went with that. The seam of the neckline is then trimmed.
After shaping and steam pressing your bias tape cut from the fashion fabric pin and baste the tape over the neckline. Some of the basting thread still has to be removed from the neckline. Make sure the basting stitches are secure and hold the tape on the right and wrong side of the fabric.
The bias tape is then hand stitched on the outside and inside using very small slip stitches. Use a small sized hand sewing needle and waxed thread. I’ll sew in a hook and eye at the back of the neckline when the dress is finished.
The rest of the treatment to support the neckline
Here is a look at the rest of the neckline treatment that was necessary. When a fabric has sufficient body the NEC technique should work as described above. Since rayon faille is very lightweight, I found it was necessary to use interfacing and a facing. What you see in the following photos was applied before finishing the neckline with the bias binding.
I hand stitched a length of lace hem tape to the upper side of the darts on the front of the dress. This worked to keep the darts flat and positioned towards the center front. The tape was hand stitched using two rows of very small running stitches after the darts were steam pressed.
Here you can see the lace stay tape holding the dart in place. The interfacing is a blend of rayon and poly. It works very well with the rayon faille. The edges of the interfacing were pinked. I hand stitched the interfacing slightly above the stay stitching.
I find that an interfacing and facing that ends about 4″ down along center back provides a better support than a neckline that is only 2″ wide.
The facing was finished with hand overcasting and then hand stitched to the wrong side of the dress. After that the bias binding was applied and slip stitched into place. The facing will be tacked at the shoulders.
At center back, the ends of the facing are turned under and slip stitched to the zipper tape.
I did not grade the seams because the fabric is very lightweight. I thought it would be better for supporting the bias tape to have an equal amount of fabric on each side. The finish looks a little thick because of this but I’m ok with it. I think if I use this technique again ways to improve it will come to mind. I’d be interested in learning if anyone else tries this neckline finish out and takes it in another direction.
In the next posting I will show from start to finish the details of how this same kind of finish was used for the sleeve hem.