Creative articles about sewing

“Irina” Sew Along – Week 3 – Neckline & Bodice


Welcome to Week 3 of the Irina Sew Along! This week we will be sewing our neckline and bodice but we’re also going to talk about machine embroidery. Adding machine embroidery to a garment is a delightful and enjoyable creative endeavour that combines artistry, craftsmanship, and personal expression. Whether you’re a seasoned embroiderer or new to the craft, each embroidery project offers an opportunity for fun, creativity, and fulfilment. It’s easiest to add machine embroidery while the pieces are still flat, (if possible), so if you’re adding embroidery to your bodice that will need to be done first. If you’re thinking about machine embroidery to the skirt, then that can be done later but before we assemble the skirt. 

If you’re not adding embroidery then you can skip on down to the the binding and bodice instructions. I’ve used 2 different techniques on my dresses. The Linen Colour Blocked dress has a bound neckline and I used the BERNINA Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88 and the Binder Foot #95 for this. For the Merino Tunic I made a hidden facing that gets turned to the inside and top stitched in place.

Image of Binder Foot #95.

Binder Foot #95

The 5.5 mm foot for Binder attachments #87 and #88 ✓  The notch at the side allows closer access to the binder attachment ✓  Supports and facilitates sewing with Binder Attachment ✓ For 5.5 mm and 9 mm machines ✓ 

Learn more
Image of Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88.

Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88

For perfect corners and beautiful curves ✓  For use with Binder Foot #95 / 95C ✓  Ideal for bias-binding fabric edges ✓  For 5.5 mm and 9 mm machines ✓  Held in place securely until it is sewn ✓ 

Learn more

But before we jump into that let’s have a look at some tips and tricks for machine embroidery!

 

Adding Machine Embroidery  – From Kerrie and Bree at BERNINA Australia.

The lovely ladies at BERNINA Australia, Kerrie & Bree, have added this cute design to their Irina dress and they’ve even made a video to show you how! We’ve got a link to the video below and a summary of the the steps for you.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are just a few reasons why adding machine embroidery to a garment can be so rewarding.

  1. Creative Expression: Machine embroidery allows you to express your creativity in countless ways. Whether you’re stitching intricate designs, playful motifs, or personalized monograms, you have the freedom to customize garments according to your style and preferences.
  2. Endless Possibilities: With modern embroidery machines, the design possibilities are virtually limitless. You can choose from a vast library of pre-programmed designs, download patterns online, or create your own designs using BERNINA Software. This endless variety ensures that each embroidery project is unique and exciting.
  3. Sense of Accomplishment: Watching your chosen design come to life stitch by stitch can be incredibly satisfying. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with seeing your creativity materialize into a tangible and wearable piece of art.
  4. Personalization: Adding machine embroidery to a garment allows you to personalize it in a meaningful way. Whether you’re embroidering initials, names, or meaningful symbols, you can create garments that are truly one-of-a-kind and reflective of the wearer’s personality and interests.
  5. Learning and Growth: Embarking on machine embroidery projects is an opportunity for learning and growth. As you experiment with different techniques, thread colours, and designs, you’ll expand your embroidery skills and gain confidence in your abilities.
  6. Community and Connection: Machine embroidery enthusiasts form a vibrant and supportive community. Engaging with fellow embroiderers through online forums, social media groups, or local embroidery clubs can enhance the fun and enjoyment of the craft through shared inspiration, tips, and encouragement.

If you are a novice or more experienced in the world of machine embroidery and own a BERNINA, you will find all you need to know in “The BIG Book of Embroidery”. Ask your local BERNINA Sewing Centre about the book. It is well worth investing in!

Watch the embroidery process here: Click the image below

Summary of the steps for adding machine embroidery

Mark the centre front and use the hoop template to line it up straight in the hoop. Hoop up the centre front bodice using a cut away stabiliser (e.g. Polymesh by OESD) and some tearaway tape to secure the neckline.

Select your design and resize it. Position multiple copies of the design around the neckline – Use the Shape Designer if you have it on your machine

Stitch out your design

Remove from hoop and cut away excess stabiliser from underneath

Your embroidery embellishment is done! Ready to get sewing your bodice. 

 

Linen Colour Blocked Dress – Binding the Neckline

We’re starting our sewing of the Irina Linen dress by following the original pattern to create a bound neckline. Binding is a beautiful way to finish a neck edge but sometime bias binding can be fiddly. However the combination of this linen fabric used with the BERNINA Binder Attachment creates such a beautiful and satisfyingly neat finish!

Step 1

Lay out the centre front (1) and centre back (3) pieces so you can see you have a pair. With a fabric like this that’s the same on both sides it’s very easy to sew the wrong sides together. Sew 1 shoulder seam with right sides together. Doesn’t matter which side.

                      

Step 2

Stay stitch around the neck line. Stay stitching is a straight stitch with normal stitch length (2.5mm), sewn within the seam allowance to ensure that the curved edge doesn’t stretch while adding finishings like binding. Stitch a line approx. 8mm in being careful not to stretch the fabric whilst sewing. Then trim about 5mm off your neckline. 


Step 3

Prepare your binding strip. You can use pre-made binding for this but I wanted the exact same colour as my dress so I cut a bias strip from the leftover fabric. Roughly measure around the neckline and add a few centimeters to get the approximate length of binding needed. Then find the longest 45 degree angle in your scraps and fold it in half to get a triangle type shape, ready to cut the strip. 


Step 4

Cut a strip 28mm wide at the 45 degree angle from the selvedge. You can also cut a spare piece to do a practice run. There is another blog post about cutting bias tape here if you want more info: How to make bias tape – free tutorial

Step 5

Attach the Binder Foot #95 and the Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88 to the machine. Screw the binder in and line it up as it states in the instructions that come with it. Feed your bias tape into the feeder and use some tweezers to help pull it through until it comes out and starts folding itself in.  Position your fabric in between the binding folds and look at where your needle will come down. You’ll need to adjust your needle position so it will catch the binding on both sides. I moved my needle 2 positions to the right but this depends on your machine and what width of binder attachment you are using.

Image of Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88.

Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88

For perfect corners and beautiful curves ✓  For use with Binder Foot #95 / 95C ✓  Ideal for bias-binding fabric edges ✓  For 5.5 mm and 9 mm machines ✓  Held in place securely until it is sewn ✓ 

Learn more
Image of Binder Foot #95.

Binder Foot #95

The 5.5 mm foot for Binder attachments #87 and #88 ✓  The notch at the side allows closer access to the binder attachment ✓  Supports and facilitates sewing with Binder Attachment ✓ For 5.5 mm and 9 mm machines ✓ 

Learn more

Do a little test piece first! I cut a curve that was a similar shape to my neckline and had a go binding that. That way I could get the feel for it and also check that my needle position was catching on both sides. 

There is an instructional video on the BERNINA You Tube Channel that shows you in details how to attach the binder to the machine: Click here to watch how to attach the binder.

You can also watch me doing the binding on my dress in a video here with a few tips and tricks: Click here for my binding video

If you don’t have the binder attachment you can attach binding however you prefer. Without a binder, I like to sew the binding on in a single layer with right sides together and then fold that in towards the inside of the garment and either machine top stitch or hand stitch it down. 

Step 6

You should end up with some binding like this! Lastly we need to close the other shoulder seam. Turn it right sides together and sew across the should seam. Finish you seam allowances however you like. I overlocked them but you can zig zag if you don’t have an overlocker.

 

Sewing the Bodice 

Next we can start sewing our bodice panels together.

Step 1

Lay out the lower centre front and lower centre back bodice pieces. Put them right sides together, matching any notches. Sew and finish the seam allowances. 

Step 2

Do the same with the side bodice panels. Again, lay them all out and make sure you have a pair. With right sides together sew and finish the panel seams. 

Step 3

Layout and line up your centre front and side panels. We’re going to sew these together but we want to try and match those colour change points perfectly.

Put a pin through where the colours join at 1cm in from the edge. This is where your seam will be sewn. Pin that together and then side the rest of the seam. Sew and finish the seam allowances. 

Step 4 – Optional Top Stitching.

I decided to top stitch my panel lines purely because I like the look of it. If you want to top stitch them I recommend using the BERNINA #10 Edgestitch Foot or if, like me, you can’t find your #10 foot, you can use the #5 Blindstitch foot that has a similar central guide and just move your needle position to the side.

You should end up with a bodice that looks something like this!

 

Merino Sleeveless Tunic – Attach Facings

For the Merino Tunic I went for something different and decided to do a hidden facing. We made the pattern pieces and cut out the fabric last week so you should be ready to start sewing.


Step 1

With right sides together, sew the front bodice to the back bodice at both shoulder seams.

 

 

Step 2

Sew the 2 neck facing pieces right sides together at their side seams. 

Step 3

Find the centre front and centre back of the bodice neckline and place pins. Do the same for the facing pieces. You can do this by folding it in half, matching the shoulder seams together. The centre front and centre back will be at the folded point. 

Step 4

Lay the facing pieces on top of the bodice neckline, right sides together and match the centre front and centre back pins, as well as matching the side/shoulder seams. Put a few extra pins around the neckline edge.

Step 5

Sew the neckline edge with 1cm seam allowance. Trim off about half the seam allowance and put a few snips into the seam allowance scattered around the curves.  


Step 6

Fold the facing out flat and understitch the neckline edge. Understitching is where you stitch through all seam allowance layers and the facing, quite close to the seam line, so that when the facing is turned to the inside it pulls all the fabric around neatly and you won’t see the facing from the outside. 

Step 7

Turn the facing completely inside the garment, press and pin in place. Top stitch all the way around the neckline at your desired distance. I top stitched approx. 12mm out. Make sure to go nice any slowly and pivot lots to stop the layers moving and twisting. If you have a Dual Feed foot or Walking foot this will help.


You should end up with a bodice looking like this. 

Repeat for the Armhole Facings

Repeat the process of the neckline facings exactly the same for the armholes.

  • Sew the side seams of the bodice right sides together and finish seams
  • Sew the facings together
  • Find the halfway points of the facings and the armhole at the front and back
  • With right sides together, pin and then sew the facings on with a 1cm seam allowance
  • Trim seam allowance and snip curves
  • Unfold the facings and understitch
  • Fold the facings all the way inside the garment
  • Pin and top stitch armhole facings in place

Your Merino Sleeveless Tunic bodice is done!

 

Week 3 Complete! 

This neckline finishing can be some of the trickiest parts of sewing a dress like this. Getting it done at the start is a good move because it’s easier to stitch when the garment is still mostly flat. I hope it sews well for you but as always, please ask for any help in the questions. 

Anna

 

To see previous post you can click here:

Introduction

Week 1

Week 2

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Used Material: all purpose thread, cotton or linen, denim chambray, fusible interfacing, knit fabric, light non-fusible interfacing
Used Products:
Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88
Binder Attachment for Unfolded Bias Tape #88
Binder Foot #95
Binder Foot #95

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  • kimmerbellum EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    I’m not quite there yet but feeling quite nervous about my neckline with my t-shirt fabrics. I wasn’t going to do facings, more like a normal t-shirt neck, but wondering if this is wise. Any suggestions?

    • Anna Hicks EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

      Hi I think a normal t-shirt neckline would be great for an upcycled t-shirt dress. You can use some ribbing or just scraps of t-shirt fabric and sew it on like a t-shirt ribbing. That would work well.

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