Monday, November 8, 2010

{bias neck binding revisited}

Since bias neck bindings tend to be an issue with many people, I thought that I would revisit it again. I know that some people when they watched my bias neck binding videos cringed and gasped at my suggestion to use the serger to finish and trim off the smocked neck edge when binding it. I decided that I would do another tutorial and show you that there is nothing to cringe and gasp about. My main purpose for this journal entry is to show you that you shouldn't be afraid to use your serger in heirloom sewing. 
I had a piece of Swiss Cotton Edging in my sewing stash, so I pleated it up for a bishop collar to use in this tutorial. This piece of edging is 6" wide by about 2.5 yards. I pleated it up with 7 rows - the top row is my holding row. I will be making this bishop smocked collar up as a ready-to-smock item, meaning that I will not do any smocking stitches until the collar construction is complete. As you can tell, I use white quite a bit when smocking and I know it makes it really impossible hard for you to see my tutorials, but I have done my best to take close up pictures that hopefully show off the stitches enough that you can see. As always, you can click on each individual picture to see a larger, more detailed picture.
I blocked the bishop collar on my blocking board and steamed it with my iron, then I pulled out a few pleats on either side of my collar, so that I could finish the edge. Using my serger, I stitched a narrow 3-thread overlock stitch to finish off the cut edge.

I turned under the serged edge, then turned it under again and top stitched each side of the back openings for the collar.

Next step was to take it to my sewing machine and stitch a basting stitch just above the first row that will be smocked.
I then finger pressed the center of my bias neck binding piece and matched up the center of it to the center of my pleated collar. I pinned the neck binding in place, overlapping the ends by about 1/4". On my sewing machine, I stitched the bias neck binding down with a basting stitch first, then checked how it looked, and made any adjustments that needed to be done before I did my final stitching down of the bias neck binding.
Once the neck binding was stitched down, I took the collar to my serger and with a 3-thread narrow overlock stitch, I stitched and finished off the neck binding all in one easy step! 
Using the marks on my serger foot, I watched closely to where the needle was stitching and made sure that the needle followed close to my straight stitch that I had sewn on my sewing machine. Nothing scary about that!
As you can see, this gave me a nice cut off and finished edge to the top of the neck. Nothing to cringe or gasp about there, right? See how easy that was? Once again, don't be afraid to use your serger - I'm certainly not!

Next step is to turn under the overlapped edge to the inside, then turn under the top of the binding and fold it over the serged finished edge of the neck. Pin in place and whipstitch the binding in place.

Once complete you should have a beautifully attached bias neck binding as shown here.

I hope you found this 2nd tutorial on a bias neck binding beneficial, but most of all I hope that I have relieved any fears you might have in using your serger in heirloom sewing, and especially in attaching a bias neck binding.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. You can also contact me by email from the Contact tab at the top of my blog.


Caroline's seamstress said...

Great explanation. I use my serger any time I think it will make a neat clean edge. It is far better than a zigzag stitch to finish the edge before completing the neck band.

Ellie Inspired said...

I use my serger for french seams but never thought about using it when binding a neckline. That is a great tip! Then you have a perfect and clean edge to work with when you fold over the bias binding to the inside. Your binding will always look perfect. Thanks!

Toko said...

Hello, I am a Japanese.
There are few books about the smocking embroidery in Japan.
I am pleased that I find your animation very much.
I want to learn most more.

Jan M said...

Lovely collar! I admire those of you brave enough to use your serger so well. There are many, though, who have the simplest of machines and no serger. It is good there are ways to achieve great neckbands and other garment finishes using the simplest of techniques, too. In my opinion, the world can never have too many beautiful bishops!

Keri Cartee said...

I LOVE your video and picture tutorials!!! They are soooo helpful to 'newbies' like me!!!! THANK YOU for sharing your wealth of knowledge with the rest of us! : )

Anonymous said...

Great and clear explanation. This technique could also be used when applying bias binding on any garment. Thank you


april said...

I want to say thank you so much for the neck band and was wondering what smocking plate you used in the monogrammed bishop..

Laurie said...

April, click on the tab at the top of my blog for the smocked bishop tutorial - the link to the smocking plate is there - it's only available for free until the end of November, then you can purchase it at

Claire said...

I just stumbled across your very informative blog! Thank you! I wanted to ask, you mention you would never bind a neckline with more than a 1/4inch binding. Is that just because you are making childrens sized clothes or is larger binding harder to use? I'm about to try it on a dress I'm making for myself but I was thinking of doing something a little wider? Any suggestions on if I should or not? Thanks again for putting up your info! Its so helpful to be able to find answers! Claire

Laurie said...

Claire, the reason I make my bias neck binding 1/4" inch or smaller is because it just looks nicer - I want the focus to be on the smocking, not the binding, so I make my binding small.

Claire said...

...and such adorable smocking it is! Thanks again!

Kerry said...

Very well written. Thank you for the explanation!

Mosaic Magpie said...

Found this post from a "pin" on Pinterest. I am new to smocking and I have found your videos to be so very helpful.

Kathryn Starling said...

Someone told me I could not make just a collar with edging like this but that I had to pleat two layers of fabric together running through the machine at the same time-the edging and the dress fabric. So, how to you attach the collar? Do you pleat the dress fabric or leave it unpleated? Thank you!!!

Laurie said...

You can make a collar like this - just bind it like you would a bishop dress. If you want it as an overlay on a bishop, you can pleat the two together and bind both. Feel free to email me if you need more info.


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