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BIAS TAPE ON KNIT NECKLINE
Does it have to be stretchy?
sport
sport
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Date: 8/2/10 8:02 AM

I am working on New Look 6940, a knit top. The pattern calls for sewing 1/2" bias tape around the neckline. It doesn't say stretchy bias tape, just bias tape. I followed the instructions but, after sewing it on, the neckline is all stretched and gaping - hideous! Can anyone offer help as to what happened? I read the reviews for this pattern and everyone seems to like the pattern and say it's great for beginners but I'm not having any luck.

Elona
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In reply to sport


Date: 8/2/10 3:30 PM

Aaaack! V-neck bindings on knits can be so tricky for beginners. Personally, I hate, hate, hate that stupid bias tape finish on knits. It's an old technique, totally outmoded, and no RTW neckline is ever finished this way. Yet most pattern companies continue to include it in their instructions.

I don't own the pattern you're working with, but I'm guessing that two or three bad things happened to your poor shirt. The first problem is that V necklines really just want to stretch out of shape. One way to handle that is to apply sheer stabilizing tape like this one right after cutting out the pattern, before you even start sewing.

Second, as a newbie, you almost certainly stretched the neckline unequally while fighting with the bias tape. One of the tricks in finishing these necklines is to make sure you put the same amount of pressure on each side of that vee, so as to make both sides exactly symmetrical. This is extremely difficult to do if you sew the neckline in a continuous circle.

Third, as I mentioned, is that darned woven tape. Yes, since it is bias and bias is stretchy by nature--and your knit does require a 'stretchy' binding--it can be successfully used, but it takes care and practice, because the 'hand' of the woven tape is very different from many knits. If you look inside most commercial tees that are finished this way, you will see that the manufacturer used a strip of self-fabric cut on the crossgrain.

So what do you need to do? If you want to salvage the top, carefully unpick all the stitching that holds the binding on. Yeah--a PITA. Then lay your shirt as flat as you can on your ironing board and compare the length of the neckline with your pattern pieces. You will see that they are not at all the same anymore. Your job will be to use your steam iron, held an inch or so above the fabric, plus your hand to gently pat and shrink that stretched neckline back to the proper dimensions. This is more possible with some fabrics than others, but you should get considerable improvement. When it looks pretty darn good, let the fabric lie flat on the ironing board until it's completely dry.

At this point, you can do what's called 'quarter marking': You measure the neckline seamline and divide it into quarters, marking each quarter with a pin or a chalk mark.

Next, with careful handling, you can try re-binding the neckline with the bias tape--OR with a strip of self fabric cut on the crossgrain, so it will have the same characteristics as the fabric you're working with. That is what I would do, though you will notice in the reviews that some people used elastic, and some merely turned the raw edges under along the seamline (GREAT care needed with this). I would also quarter-mark the binding, to be sure that each segment matches the same parts of the neckline.

As I have mentioned, it is tremendously important not to force or stretch the two edges of that v-neck so they become asymmetric. You want everything to lie flat and pretty, with no icky ripples. It might be necessary to make two sewing passes, starting each side of the V neckline at the shoulder seam and stitching down towards the point.

Knits usually don't ravel, so you generally don't have to worry about turning under the free edge of the binding, though of course you could serge it.

Don't feel too bad about your first effort of this type. Vees are very difficult to learn to handle.


-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:12 PM --
-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:15 PM --
-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:25 PM --

sport
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In reply to Elona


Date: 8/3/10 2:15 PM

Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out, Elona.

Is Wonder Tape a sheer stabilizing tape? I think I have some of that stashed somewhere...

Before I received your reply, I took the bias tape off and attempted to finish the neckline with a 2 inch wide strip of self fabric, folded lengthwise. Because the neckline was so stretched out I decided to make the self fabric shorter by 5 inches in an attempt to tighten it up. That was a mistake. I ended up with a puckered neckline this time. It was as ugly as the stretched out version so, in exasperation, I chucked the whole project in the garbage

So, for next time, I'll stabilize the neckline first and make the neckline trim/self fabric the same length as the neckline, right? By the way, the neckline isn't actually a V-shape. It is more of a cross over with the left front being tucked into a slot in the right front, forming a little twist. It was a PITA trying to sew trim close to that twist in the front. The pattern says to sew the tape all the way down to the large dot marked on the fabric which, at this point, is tucked inside the twist. If I attempt this pattern again, I'm going to try to add the trim before making the twist. I believe one of the pattern reviewers mentioned doing it that way.

I've never seen bias tape on rtw knit tops either. I think the self fabric idea is much better. I'm also tempted to try the elastic method because that sounds even easier than cutting fabric strips.
-- Edited on 8/4/10 6:26 AM --

Nancy K
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In reply to Elona


Date: 8/3/10 2:24 PM

I consider it totally outmoded too and I sent Vogue a letter after seeing it in one of their patterns. Come on in to the 21st century and modern methods. They answered me back that it's a perfectly acceptable way to finish a neckline. Obviously the big 4 are not interested in changing their directions so if you see instructions like this, know that there are better ways to finish a knit.

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Elona
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In reply to sport


Date: 8/3/10 2:31 PM

Wonder Tape is a two sided sticky tape, not exactly lightweight, that you use to hold things in place so they don't wander around while you're trying to stitch. I use it all the time when putting in zippers.

Sheer stabilizing tape is a whole different animal.

And the trim should in general be no longer than the cut edges. In fact, slightly shorter is better because it snugs the neckline up a bit, countering the tendency to stretch. Different knits have different levels of stretchiness, too. I'd recommend making a few dummy necklines to practice on so you can get an idea of what's called for.

This is a great video I always recommend for learning to bind knit necklines. It's a different application from what you're dealing with, because here the trim is on the outside and visible. But still, it teaches you how to judge the stretchiness of your particular knit and the proper length for bindings.
-- Edited on 8/3/10 2:32 PM --

maryl
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Date: 8/3/10 2:34 PM

I have the best luck simply turning the neckline under a little and then sewing it with my Janome coverstitch. Sometimes I tighten the differential feed in the front to keep it from gaping. Fabric that isn't too stretchy works best.

Good luck!

ChristinePDX
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ChristinePDX
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In reply to Elona


Date: 8/3/10 3:46 PM

Quote: Elona
Aaaack! V-neck bindings on knits can be so tricky for beginners. Personally, I hate, hate, hate that stupid bias tape finish on knits. It's an old technique, totally outmoded, and no RTW neckline is ever finished this way. Yet most pattern companies continue to include it in their instructions.



I don't own the pattern you're working with, but I'm guessing that two or three bad things happened to your poor shirt. The first problem is that V necklines really just want to stretch out of shape. One way to handle that is to apply sheer stabilizing tape like this one right after cutting out the pattern, before you even start sewing.



Second, as a newbie, you almost certainly stretched the neckline unequally while fighting with the bias tape. One of the tricks in finishing these necklines is to make sure you put the same amount of pressure on each side of that vee, so as to make both sides exactly symmetrical. This is extremely difficult to do if you sew the neckline in a continuous circle.



Third, as I mentioned, is that darned woven tape. Yes, since it is bias and bias is stretchy by nature--and your knit does require a 'stretchy' binding--it can be successfully used, but it takes care and practice, because the 'hand' of the woven tape is very different from many knits. If you look inside most commercial tees that are finished this way, you will see that the manufacturer used a strip of self-fabric cut on the crossgrain.



So what do you need to do? If you want to salvage the top, carefully unpick all the stitching that holds the binding on. Yeah--a PITA. Then lay your shirt as flat as you can on your ironing board and compare the length of the neckline with your pattern pieces. You will see that they are not at all the same anymore. Your job will be to use your steam iron, held an inch or so above the fabric, plus your hand to gently pat and shrink that stretched neckline back to the proper dimensions. This is more possible with some fabrics than others, but you should get considerable improvement. When it looks pretty darn good, let the fabric lie flat on the ironing board until it's completely dry.



At this point, you can do what's called 'quarter marking': You measure the neckline seamline and divide it into quarters, marking each quarter with a pin or a chalk mark.



Next, with careful handling, you can try re-binding the neckline with the bias tape--OR with a strip of self fabric cut on the crossgrain, so it will have the same characteristics as the fabric you're working with. That is what I would do, though you will notice in the reviews that some people used elastic, and some merely turned the raw edges under along the seamline (GREAT care needed with this). I would also quarter-mark the binding, to be sure that each segment matches the same parts of the neckline.



As I have mentioned, it is tremendously important not to force or stretch the two edges of that v-neck so they become asymmetric. You want everything to lie flat and pretty, with no icky ripples. It might be necessary to make two sewing passes, starting each side of the V neckline at the shoulder seam and stitching down towards the point.



Knits usually don't ravel, so you generally don't have to worry about turning under the free edge of the binding, though of course you could serge it.



Don't feel too bad about your first effort of this type. Vees are very difficult to learn to handle.





-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:12 PM --

-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:15 PM --
-- Edited on 8/2/10 4:25 PM --

I am also struggling with knits stretching out so this thread is timely. Do you use the bias or the straight stabilizing tape, or does it matter? Would this be enough stability to then just turn over the edge and hem?

Elona
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Date: 8/3/10 10:17 PM

Strictly speaking, that long diagonal front neckline is on the bias, hence the problem, especially in wovens, but it's a problem generally. So, to answer the question, straight tape, and theoretically, you could then just turn over the edge. But the trick is to make sure that you do it ever so gently--no stretching, etc. To avoid ripples and bulges, that edge must be no longer than the stitching line on the pattern.

You learn, with time, to spread your fingers lightly on the fabric to the left of the needle so as to support things and keep everything moving flat, at the same rate the machine is feeding, to prevent stretching and lagging and so on.
-- Edited on 8/3/10 10:21 PM --

ChristinePDX
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In reply to Elona


Date: 8/4/10 0:23 AM

That makes sense, thank you. Do you think a walking foot would be helpful in this case to prevent stretching, or would it be better to just work with the fabric manually as you have suggested? Or both?

Elona
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In reply to ChristinePDX


Date: 8/4/10 0:35 AM

My Bernina has a great walking foot, and in this case I myself would probably use it, as well as manual care, as well as directional stitching to ensure symmetry.

It all sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but the basic idea is that the way you stitch it is the way it's going to lie forever.

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