October 14, 2014

Tutorial: how to finish a wrap dress neckline

Hi lovelies! I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve found a great way to finish wrap dress necklines and I got some questions about it, so I put together a quick photo tutorial to show you how to do it.

Start making your wrap dress by sewing the shoulders. Now, you’re ready for the neckband.
First, make a strip of your fabric, 1.5 inches wide and the length of your neckline – if necessary, join two pieces together to get the end. Fold the strip in half wrong sides together, and press in half down the length of the strip (remember to “press” up and down and not slide your iron along, which will distort the fabric).
If you had to connect two pieces together to make a long enough neckline band, here’s a little trick for getting the seam to lie nicely: snip the serged seam in half *just* up to the left needle stitching. Then, push the seam allowance one way above the fold and another way below the fold. When you now go to fold the whole neckline band, it lies flat as there are only 2 layers of fabric rather than 3. You can also use this tip any time you need to serge over an already serged seam.
Now, take the band and pin it to the right side of your neckline, with the raw edges matching – i.e. the “open” side of the folded band should line up against the raw edge of the neckline. If you want, you can wonder tape this rather than pinning.
Over to the machine! Serge the band to the dress at a 3/8 seam allowance – which on a serger means that you’re not cutting any fabric off with the knife, you’re just skimming the edge against the knife.
Personally, the combination of the thin band + stretchy knit + large bust + wearing a camisole means that I don’t have to do any stretching to the neckline band (unlike on a t-shirt where you definitely do) – the knit just eases around the neck curve without anything energetic, much like the collar on a woven dress. However, if you’re making a fixed wrap, or have a different knit/bust/camisole situation going on, you may want to stretch the band as you’re sewing it – that will make it spring back a little and the neckline will be tighter against the body.
Now, flip the seam allowance to the inside, so that you’re just seeing about 3/8 inch peeking out on the right side.
Press that baby! Not everyone presses knit fabrics while they’re sewing, but I find it gives a more professional finish. 
When you press the band over the shoulders it curves around, so press it over a ham to retain the shaping.
And this is what it should look like.
Finally, use a coverstitch machine or twin-needle on your sewing machine to sew around the neckline band, securing the seam allowance down.
And you’re done! A professional and easy wrap dress finish.
This tutorial first appeared on the Curvy Sewing Collective as part of the Wrap Dress Sewalong.

12 thoughts on “Tutorial: how to finish a wrap dress neckline

  1. Very nice…. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I will definitely use this technique. I just happen to be sewing a wrap dress this weekend. Thanks for sharing. The dress is super cute.

  3. Make a statement with this Cashmere Ponchos. Versatile…the perfect poncho for all shapes…worn symmetrically with the seam at the front…or the back with a cowl neck at the front or alternatively asymmetrically with the seam down the shoulder…or even as a chunky scarf bulked up at the neck…your own style choice! Size: 80cm x 80cm

  4. francescapia says:

    This is great – thank you! I cannot stand the idea of using facings for a knit dress…. no wonder your wrap dress central is famous!
    This may be a stupid question, but would you cut the band itself so it’s stretchy or not? I suppose it should be cut across – with the stretch – not parallel to the selvedge, right? What do you prefer, with your experience? I ask because I read a review some time ago where someone cut the ties for their wrap top as per pattern layout – stretchy – and they ended up enormous, and they said it would have been better to cut them the other way. But this is the wrap band, so I guess it needs the stretch?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Francesca! So yes cut the band so it’s across the grain, with the stretch. You need it to be able to stretch a bit to get a good snug fit when you put the dress on.

      1. Francesca a says:

        Wow, thanks! You really are kind:)

  5. Becky says:

    Thank you, Jenny, for your tutorial. It is very clear. I will definitely refer to it in the future.

  6. Kelley says:

    Thank you for your tutorial. I wonder if I might ask a question, though: how do you handle the end of the neckline (where the ties are attached)?

  7. Lynda Elsoin says:

    I just used this technique and it works perfectly. I had been wondering how to finish this edge on such a lightweight knit, and this looks so professional – and was incredibly easy! Thank you!!!

  8. Krõõt says:

    is the strip fabric cut from the bias or straight fabric?

    1. Ayelet says:

      For a jersey dress, you can cut the neckband on the straight of grain rather than on the bias.

      -Ayelet at Cashmerette

Let me know what you think!