28 May 2014 • • by Heather Lou

Nettie Sewalong Pt 6: Attaching Neck Binding

Nettie Shirt & Dress Sewalong

Today is the day. Pop a fresh stretch needle in that machine, do a couple of deep knee bends and Rocky style air punches and LET'S INSERT SOME NECKBANDS.

Today's agenda:

  • Basting shelf bra to neck and arm openings
  • Stabilizing shoulder seams
  • Marking neckline and matching notches with prepared binding
  • Inserting neckline binding

Before I get today's lesson rolling with some kind of 80's arena rock anthem, I must address the shelf bra-lettes among you. In the instructions I suggest waiting until your Nettie is all made up before we insert our cups. For the sewalong, since we have the time to take our time, I would like to walk you through inserting cups before we sew the seams. There are a few extra steps, but I think it will be easier for you to sew those cups down if your side seams haven't been sewn together. I will cover this in more detail tomorrow.


If you are adding a shelf bra, now is the time to baste it into place. Carefully line up your front bodice and bra lining, wrong sides together, and baste as close to the edge as possible within your 3/8" seam allowance. Use a narrow stitch - I like it 2.5mm wide and 5mm long. Only baste along the arm and neck openings. We are going to leave the side seams free for the time being.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-3


Now that we've got that out of the way, the rest of us can start assembling our bodice. First off, we gotta stabilize those shoulder seams. I suppose you could skip this step if you are feeling rebellious (put down that wine cooler you delinquent) but if you want those seams to stand the test of time, you want something sewn in to keep them from stretching out. A lot of things can be used to stabilize shoulder seams: clear elastic, stay tape, bias tape, even ribbon or a piece of selvedge. I am a huge fan of clear elastic because it looks neat and makes a nice thin seam.

(Unfortunately when I started to assemble the cobalt beauty I'll be working with for the rest of the sewalong, I realized I ran out of clear elastic. The following photos are from an earlier Nettie.)

Match your bodice pieces at the shoulders, right sides together. Lay one of your shoulder seams on your sewing machine with your clear elastic (or other stabilizer) on top. We want to sew the elastic so the edge butts right against our seam allowance. That way, when the seam is sewn together and pressed down the elastic won't push the seam out. Let a little bit of elastic hang past your fabric so it doesn't get pushed down into the feeder dogs when you start sewing.

Nettie shoulder seam1 If you are sewing this on a regular machine, use a wider zig zag stitch.

Nettie shoulder seamYou can go straight to the serger if you want, but I find it a little easier to zig zag it into place first.

Nettie shoulder seam11

Trim off the excess elastic and repeat for the other shoulder seam.


If you prefer to insert knit bands using a stretch and feel method, you can leave one shoulder open. Andrea at Four Square Walls just wrote a post about how this is her preferred method and there is some interesting debate in the comments section about inserting flat vs. in the round. I originally chose to assemble the neckline flat in the first draft of my instructions, but I found sewing the binding closed first made a cleaner finish. The choice is yours, amigas.

That bit of sewing pedantry aside,  it's time to measure our neckline opening and add notches at every quarter. You can use a measuring tape to do this (divide the number by 4 and then add a mark at every 25%) or you can be lazy like me and fold your bodice in half and then half again. When you fold it the second time just be sure you're lining up your edges properly. Just make a little mark with your tool at every fold.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-4

Once you're done, it should look something like this:

Nettie neckline and adding cups-5

In the last post we had prepared our neckline binding and marked it at every quarter. It's time to pin it to our neckline. I like to center the binding seam on the back center. Starting there, pin the binding to the right side of the neckline at every quarter with the raw edges together.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-6

If you're a little nervous about sewing this together as is, you can stretch the binding (but not your bodice!) and add a few more pins at equal intervals. I prefer to stretch the binding as I'm sewing it down but whatever floats your boat.

A note about seam allowances: When I initially released Nettie I told you to use a 1/4" seam allowance. Once I corrected the sizing, I upped it to 3/8". This is an easier seam allowance for people with regular sewing machines to work with. If you are sewing with a serger, it also means that unless your machine sews a 3/8" wide stitch your binding will be 1/8" wider than one sewn on a regular machine. You can trim this off as you sew if you like. I generally don't just because it can be tricky sewing around curves and an uneven neckline drives me bananas. In knit patterns, an 1/8 of an inch will have almost no impact on your final product so don't stress about it unless you prefer the look of a slimmer binding.

Starting at the center back, make a few stitches to anchor the binding to the neckline.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-7

As you can see, the neckline is slightly shorter than the band. I just gently stretch the binding and line up the edges as I sew. Even though I am using a serger for this tutorial, the same principles apply when using a regular machine.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-8

Nettie neckline and adding cups-9

Carefully sew along the circumference of the neckline, stretching gently as you go. If you want to make sure it's perfect, you can baste it first using a very long machine stitch and go over it with a zig zag or serged stitch after. If it's not a large neckline opening you could probably leave the basting stitch in place. If not, its best to remove it as a popping thread can be hard on the fabric.

Once you've sewn all the way around, your neckline will look something like this:

Nettie neckline and adding cups-10

Its super important to press this baby into shape! I find lycra very prone to showing ironing marks so I like to use a press cloth - you could also just press on medium-low setting. Once your seams are pressed your neckline should look like this:

Nettie neckline and adding cups-11

Now we can topstitch that little seam down. Theoretically, you could skip this step if your prefer the cleaner look without it. I find the seam tends to flip up (specifically on wider openings) and I like to secure it. If you have a large neckline opening that won't be stretched over your head to get on, you can get away with doing a long straight stitch. Just be mindful that it will pop if the neckline is stretched.

Otherwise, I love a double needle. Thread your needle and starting at one of the shoulder seams, carefully sew around the neckline with your needle to the left of the binding.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-29

Nettie neckline and adding cups-30

When you're done, the opening will look a little wavy. Don't worry - it will lay flat when it's stretched on your body.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-31

Hopefully you also have a half-feral wild cat who likes to mess with you when you're sewing. That's the real trick to making pretty Netties.

C'est tout for now. I'll be back tomorrow with more a detailed post about inserting foam cups.


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