How To Finish A Neckline

Finishing a neckline can be a bit of a tricky business. Hemming it as you would a skirt or a sleeve distorts the fabric and generally makes the thing you are making look a mess.

So what do you do instead?

Here are three ways of finishing a neckline that will help the top or dress you are making to look amazing!how to finish a neckline

How to Finish a Neckline

Facings

With a commercial pattern, the neckline usually will be finished using facings. Facings are pieces of fabric that follow the shape of the neckline. They will be reinforced with fusible interfacing and the bottom edge finished with zigzags, overcasting or overlocking.how to finish a neckline

To attach the facings, pin them to the neckline so that the right sides are together. Sew, keeping close to the edge. Fold the interfacing underneath and press.

Understitching will help to prevent the facings from popping back out (this is where you sew the facing to the seam). If they persist in making an appearance, you can add some tiny stitches to hold them in place. This is what I did with this red polka dot dress, made using the Sweetheart Dress pattern from Sew La Di Dah. I wrote a review of the pattern here and their site can be found here.how to finish a necklinehow to finish a neckline

I actually will go to pretty much any length to avoid using facings. In my experience no amount of understitching will make the stupid things stay inside! Sewing them in place with tiny stitches also defeats the purpose of having a nice, neat neckline with no stitches showing. You might as well top stitch the thing in place and have done with it.

Also I have only ever bought a couple of tops where the neckline was finished with facings and, guess what, they stay wouldn’t stay put either!

I do not like them. So here are the methods I normally use instead.

Bias Bindinghow to finish a neckline

This is my favourite way to finish a neckline.You can either use ready made bias binding or make your own. Just cut strips of fabric on the bias, fold in half lengthways then fold the raw edges into the middle.

To bind a neckline I usually start in the middle. Fold the bias tape in half lengthways, then in half widthways to find the middle. On the wrong side of your dress, pin one edge of the bias binding so that the edge is lined up with the neckline and the right side of the bias tape is next to the wrong side of the fabric. Sew all the way round. how to finish a necklineFold the bias binding over the raw edge and pin again, this time on the right side. Make sure that the raw edge of the bias binding is tucked underneath. Top stitch all the way round.how to finish a neckline

Tip When you are sewing, try to avoid pulling the tape and the fabric otherwise there might be puckering. Which wouldn’t be a disaster, it just looks neater.

I also used this method on my Cherry Blossom dress, which you can read about here!dress without a pattern

Lining

Lining a dress was another of those things that I always thought would be difficult. It’s really not!

In addition to your main fabric, you will need some extra fabric, enough to make a second version of the top section. You can line the skirt too if you’re feeling fancy. I don’t usually bother. I’m not fancy enough :).

The fabric will need to be plain, lightweight and a colour that won’t show through. If your thing has sleeves, don’t worry about lining those.

From this fabric, make a second top (or top of your dress). If it is a crossover style, you will need to line both the front sections.how to finish a neckline

Then all you do is pin the lining to the top section with the wrong sides together Sew all the way round the top. If your top or dress is sleeveless, sew around those as well. Trim the seams and press it. You might want to top stitch around the edge.

Tips

If your top has sleeves, attach the lining to the neckline then sew the sleeves in afterwards. You will be able to catch the lining in the sleeve seams and finish them as you would without a lining.

The same applies to a dress. If you attach the lining before sewing the top to the skirt, you can sew the lining to the skirt along with the main fabric.

If you have raw edges not caught in seams, you will need to finish them in some way. Unless the fabric doesn’t fray of course! Either zigzags or overcasting will do the trick, and maybe a few little stitches to the seam allowance to hold it in place.

If you liked this post, you might also like these:

How to Attach a Waistbandattach a waistband

Cherry Blossom Dress without a Patterndress without a pattern

A Simple Crossover Dress Without a Patternsimple dress without a pattern

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How To Make A Water Bottle Carrier

how to make a water bottle carrier

I have been planning to make a water bottle carrier for ages and at last I have got round to it! I actually need to whip up a few; we’re going on holiday in a couple of weeks and I know how heavy 6 bottles of water can be!

As I knew that this was a project that would not require very much fabric, I decided to have a rummage in the mountain modest pile of spare fabric behind the bedroom door and see what treasures I could find. I came across the car seat cover that i made last year (you can read about that little disaster here!). At last I had a project where I could reuse the fabric!

The water bottle carrier is simple in construction and can be made to fit whatever size of bottle you have. The outer is quilted to insulate the bottle and keep your water cooler for longer.

I had planned to line it but as the lining ended up being a bit of a snug fit, I just finished the raw edge at the top with bias binding instead.how to make a water bottle carrier

How to Make a Water Bottle Carrier

You will need: fabric for the outer and lining (if you are making a separate lining you will need 2 pieces), wadding, ribbon or bias binding, D rings.

1. Wrap a piece of paper around the outside of your bottle. This is to determine the size of rectangle that you will need to cut from the fabric. Add a cm for the seam allowance and another couple of cm for quilting.

Draw around the bottom of the bottle and add an extra 2 -3 cm extra there too.how to make a water bottle carrier

2. Cut 1 rectangle and 1 circle from the main fabric, the wadding and the lining. If you are making a separate lining you will need to cut 2.how to make a water bottle carrier

3. Pin the main fabric right side up to the wadding and one of the lining pieces. Use plenty of pins! You should have a kind of sandwich with the wadding in the middle. You will need to do this for the circles as well.how to make a water bottle carrier

4. Quilt the sandwich. I did this by sewing rows up and down, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide. Switching the direction in which you are sewing causes it all to distort less. When you have finished the rectangle, quilt the circles.how to make a water bottle carrierhow to make a water bottle carrier

5. From the ribbon or bias binding, cut enough to go lengthways across the quilted rectangle. Cut 2 pieces about 5 cm long and fold each one in half widthways. Slip a D ring onto each piece.

6. Lay the pieces of bias tape with the D rings on about a quarter of the way in from each edge.Pin the longer piece over the top. how to make a water bottle carrierSew the bias tape in place.how to make a water bottle carrier

7. Fold the quilted rectangle in half with the wrong sides together. Sew along the edge opposite the fold.how to make a water bottle carrier

8. Pin the circle to the bottom of the rectangle that is now a cylinder. This is a bit fiddly, but stick with it! It will probably look like a weird vegetable. how to make a water bottle carrierSew the circle in place.

9. Trim the seams closely and turn out. Sew bias binding to the raw edge to finish it off.how to make a water bottle carrier

If you want to make a lining for your water bottle holder, repeat steps 7 and 8, then pop it inside the quilted section with the wrong sides together and add the bias binding.

10. To make the strap, cut a strip of fabric 6 – 10 cm wide and long enough to go from your hip, over your shoulder and back to your hip again. Fold in half lengthways to find the centre. Open it out, then fold the raw edges in towards the centre. how to make a water bottle carrierFold in half again so that the raw edges are enclosed inside. how to make a water bottle carrierTuck the raw edges at either end inwards.how to make a water bottle carrier Pin, then sew. I sewed along both the long edges so that it was symmetrical (I have a thing about stuff being symmetrical!).how to make a water bottle carrier

11. Thread one end of the strap through one of the D rings, Fold the edge over and sew in place. I sewed 2 rows of stitches to reduce the chances of the strap breaking.

Here is the finished water bottle carrier.how to make a water bottle carrierhow to make a water bottle carrierhow to make a water bottle carrier

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How To Attach A Waistband

attach a waistband

According to my mum, the first skirt I ever made was when I was 9 or 10. It was a rectangle of fabric sewn together along one edge, with a hem and casing for and elastic at the waist.

Unfortunately now, as a slightly chunky grown up, I am not going to get away with wearing skirts with elasticated waists. Those are best left to children and the very slim.

Thankfully attaching a waistband to a skirt is pretty easy once you know how! I’ve included three slightly different methods.attach a waistband

How to Attach a Waistband

You will need to sew in the zip first! For instructions how to sew in a zip, you can read this post here.

Ribbon Waistbandattach a waistband

You will need a piece of ribbon slightly longer than the distance around your waist and 5 – 6 cm wide.

1. Fold the ribbon in half lengthways. You will need to crease it so you could iron it, but pressing it with your finger will probably do the job well enough.

2. Fold the ribbon in half widthways to find the middle.

3. Starting opposite the zip and with the middle of the ribbon, put the ribbon over the raw edge at the waist and pin. attach a waistbandCarefully top stitch the ribbon to the skirt. Leave a couple of cm either side of the zip.attach a waistband

4. Fold the raw edges of the ribbon underneath so that they match up with where the fabric of the skirt joins the zip. Sew in place.attach a waistband

Fabric Waistbandcircle skirt

1. Cut a piece of fabric as long as the distance round your waist plus a bit extra, and about 10 cm wide. You might need to join 2 pieces together, that’s fine. If the fabric is quite lightweight or creases very easily, you might want to add some fusible interfacing to make it a bit thicker.

2. Fold the fabric in half lengthways and press it, either with the iron or with your finger. Open it out, then fold the raw edges into the middle. Press again.attach a waistbandattach a waistband

3. Start opposite the zip and with the middle of the waist band. Pin the edge of the waistband to the wrong side of the fabric so that the raw edges are together and the right side of the waistband is next to the wrong side of the fabric. attach a waistbandSew all the way round, leaving a couple of cm either side of the zip. If you need to finish the raw edges, now is the time to do it!

4. Fold the waistband over the top of the skirt and fold the edge back under. Pin, then top stitch round the waist again. still leaving a couple of cm at the zip.attach a waistband

5. Fold the raw edges underneath so that the edge of the waistband is aligned with where the skirt meets the zip. attach a waistbandSew in place.attach a waistband

Bias Binding Waistband.

To make a waistband using bias binding, you will find it easier and probably more comfortable if you use wide bias binding.

The process is exactly the same as the one above, except that you don’t have to faff about with folding in the raw edges! Just cut it to the right length, then fold the bias binding in half lengthways. Follow the steps above from step 3!

You might also like this post here about making a circle skirt, and this post here about upcycling a shapeless old dress into a skirt and this post here about making a skirt with godets. You don’t need a pattern for any of them but knowing how to attach a waistband will be useful!

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Toddler Trousers Without A Pattern

toddler trousers without a pattern

As Boy 4 has been insisting, “Make mine trackies. Make them now,” I’ve had the perfect excuse to do some sewing during the daytime when I am supposed to be playing with him or doing domestic stuff!toddler trousers without a pattern

I made him some dungarees a few weeks ago (you can read that post here!). He chose the fabric himself and he had also chosen some more to make him some little trousers.  I do have a pattern for trousers but I used that to make him these almost a year ago and they are now on the small side and far to short in the leg.

So instead I used a pair of his existing trousers as a template.

Trousers are usually simple in construction, for tiny people at least. So all I needed to do was cut 4 of the basic trouser piece shape and sew them up. Here’s how to do it!

How to Make Toddler Trousers When You Don’t Have a Pattern

1. Find an existing pair of trousers that fit your child well. Draw around them on a piece of paper. toddler trousers without a patternRemember to include a generous seam allowance. Stretch out the waist band so that you get some idea of where the centre seam will be. Make sure that you have allowed plenty of extra fabric at the top for casing for elastic.

Your pattern piece should look vaguely like this. toddler trousers without a patternIf you are having difficulty, it is worth remembering that the side seams are usually vertical and run along the grain and the inside leg should taper towards the ankle a little bit.

2. You will need to cut out 4 of these. Remember to check if you are using a directional print or fabric with a nap. The outside edge of the trouser piece should run parallel with the selvedge.toddler trousers without a pattern

Because Boy 4 was “helping,” he insisted that I used a 2 pairs of trousers, both of which were too small. This was something else to take that into consideration when I was making the template. The trousers were just about ok in the seat, just too short in the leg.toddler trousers without a pattern

3. Take 2 of the trouser pieces. With the wrong sides together, pin along the longest edge and sew. Trim the seams and press. toddler trousers without a patternOr if you are feeling fancy, you might like to practise french seams. Instruction are here! Repeat for the other two pieces.

4. Take both the sections you have just joined and pin together along the other, shorter vertical edges. These will be the centre seams of the trousers. Trim the seams and press.toddler trousers without a pattern

5. Starting at the middle seam, pin the inside leg, then sew it up. I usually start to sew at the middle as this ensures that the seams match! toddler trousers without a patternIf you have used french seams in the previous steps, you will need to just do plain seams here because french seams don’t work when there is a curve!toddler trousers without a pattern

Trim the seams and clip the curves.toddler trousers without a pattern

6. To make the casing for the elastic, fold the raw edge at the top over by about 1 cm, then fold it over again and pin. Check with your elastic and make sure the casing will be wide enough! Sew, keeping close to the lower edge.toddler trousers without a pattern

7. Cut your elastic. The easiest way to do this is by putting it around your child’s waist and cutting accordingly. You might have to wait until they are asleep though! Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the casing.toddler trousers without a patterntoddler trousers without a pattern

8. Wrestle your toddler into the trousers and mark where you need to hem at the ankles. Alternatively you could measure the trousers against them while they are asleep. Hem the trousers by folding the raw edge under, then folding again.toddler trousers without a pattern

Here is Boy 4 wearing the finished trousers. They are a little clown like in the bum area and also longer in the leg than I thought they would be. I’m going to call it growing room!toddler trousers without a pattern

Having looked at trousers and trouser patterns again, I think I could make them better by adding a bit of a curve to the centre seam. For the moment though, Boy 4 is happy enough with his new trousers!toddler trousers without a patterntoddler trousers without a patterntoddler trousers without a pattern

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How To Increase And Decrease Stitches In Crochet

increasing and decreasing stitches in crochet

Being able to increase and decrease stitches in crochet is useful when you are making all kinds of  things. If you are making bowls, bags, hats or anything else that starts with a circle, you will need to know how and when to increase stitches (If you would like a tutorial on how the crochet a circle, you can find one here!). Equally if you want to make something that’s flat, like a beard for your little person, or if you are making soft toys or you want to add shape to a pretty scarf or a purse you need to know how to increase and decrease stitches.

increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetIncreasing

Increasing stitches is the same whether you are crocheting rows or in the round.

To increase a stitch, you simply make 2 stitches into one stitch.

So here is the first stitch…how to increase and decrease stitches in crochet

…Then you make a second stitch into the same space.how to increase and decrease stitches in crochet

When crocheting in rows, usually you would increase a stitch or 2 in from the outside edge. Here is the completed row with the increased stitches. The corner kept curling upwards, which is why the scissors are there!increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetIt is the same whether you are crocheting double crochets or trebles. You just work 2 stitches into the same stitch. Here is a row with increased stitches at each end worked in trebles.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetincreasing and decreasing stitches in crochetincreasing and decreasing stitches in crochetincreasing and decreasing stitches in crochet
When crocheting a circle, you usually increase by 6 stitches each time round. So as the circle grows, you leave more stitches between the increases.crochet a circlecrochet a circlecrochet a circle

Decreasing

To decrease when working in double crochet you work 2 stitches together. Put the hook through the stitch and pull the yarn through so that you have 2 loops on the hook.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetThen put the hook through the next stitch and pull the yarn through. You will have 3 loops on the hook. increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetPut the yarn over the hook and pull it through all 3 loops.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochet

Here s the finished row.I worked the stitch at each end as normal and decreased by working the 2 stitches in from the last stitch.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochet

Decreasing trebles has more steps but the principle is the same. You just work half the stitch before moving onto the next one, then work them together.

Put the yarn over the hook, stick the hook through the stitch and pull a loop through, yarn over the hook and through 2 of the loops an the hook. You should be left with 2 loops on the hook and a stitch that looks like half a treble. increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetincreasing and decreasing stitches in crochetWork half a treble into the next stitch in the same way.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetThen yarn over the hook and pull through 2 stitches,

increasing and decreasing stitches in crochet

then yarn over thehook and pull through the remaining three stitches.increasing and decreasing stitches in crochetincreasing and decreasing stitches in crochetIf you want to see the crocheted beard I referred to earlier, that post can be found here!

Happy crafting! xx

Linking up here: Behind the Seams Sewingclairejustine “HM" Amy

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