Part 4 of the Blue Ridge Dress Sew Along and we're getting to some of the finishing touches today! Get ready to sew the main and lining together at center back, join the shoulder seams, and bind the neckline!
Finishing the center back
This part seems tricky but it's actually really simple. The tricky part is maneuvering the fabric since the bodice is already joined at the lower center back and along the waist. Really though, we're simply sewing the back main and lining together, right sides together. To do this you pull the two apart (I'm showing the left side first below), sandwich the skirt portion of the dress between them, then pin and sew along the center back seam. The skirt will get in the way of sewing all the way down to the notch, so just sew as far down as you can. The rest will get closed in the next step.
I realized later that this step would be easier if you push the skirt toward the armscye instead of the center back. I tried that on my next one and was able to stitch even closer to the notch!
Repeat with the other side, then turn right side out. It should look like this:
That hole at the bottom will get closed up soon. Press, then topstitch along the center back, pivoting at the bottom of the opening and stitching back up the other side.
Joining the shoulders
It is finally time to join those shoulders! This is another super simple step that seems more complicated than it is.
Moving the main bodice pieces out of the way, pin and sew the lining shoulders together, right sides together.
Turn the dress inside out and repeat with the main bodice. Press seams open, then turn dress right side out.
Binding the neckline
Here's where things really start to look polished. (and please oh please forgive me for how out of focus these are!)
Starting at the back right neckline, align the bias strip with the raw edge of the neck, right sides together. Leave a 3/4in tail at the end for folding in the next step.
Continue pinning around the edge of the neck, using the technique we used on the front waist trim of curving around your fingers to get the binding to lay nice along the curve.
Once it's pinned all the way around the binding won't lay flat along the garment- this is good! We're working on a curve, so if it naturally seems to fold up that's ok. We're going to be folding it later to encase the raw edge.
Leave a tail at the other end for creating the button loop. In the pattern I instruct to leave a 3in tail, but I actually found that to be a bit short as it didn't give a lot of wiggle room for button size. A 4in tail will be easier to work with in the coming steps. Sew binding to dress with a 1cm seam allowance.
Fold the binding up toward the neckline and press.
Turn the dress inside out- working from the inside will make this step easier. Fold the short tail toward the lining.
Fold the bias binding down so the raw edge of the binding nearly meets the raw edge of the neckline.
Then fold the the binding down so the newly formed folded edge covers the line of stitching. I find it helpful to do this step at the iron and press as you go.
Press and pin all the way around, making sure to fold the long tail end as well.
To secure the rest of the binding I like to stitch in the ditch. To do this you position the needle so the line of stitching is right where the binding meets the main fabric. You may also choose to hand stitch it from the back side, or use a narrow seam allowance on the front side to sew just inside where the binding and main fabric meet. Using the last method will mean a visible line of stitching, but it is the easier option.
Working from the front side of the dress, stitch in the ditch (or your preferred method) starting where the short tail end was and working around the neckline. End stitching 4in from the center back, then stitch the long tail end closed. The unstitched area is marked with pins in the image below. This is necessary for forming the button loop.
You can see here that since the inside binding covered the original line of stitching, stitching in the ditch catches it just slightly to the side of the fold. If any areas of the binding did not get stitched down, go back and reposition the binding, pin, and sew over that area.
From the front it is nice and clean!
Now we're ready to form the button loop. The unsewn portion near the tail should look like this:
Grab your button and place it at the edge of the center back. Fold the tail down so the edge grazes the side of the button, and the width from the center back to the edge is the same as the width of the button. The tail should now be going straight down and the fold should be at a 45 degree angle.
Fold the tail back parallel to the binding. It should now have a small triangle at the end, like this:
Slip the end of the tail into the pocket formed by the unsewn portion of binding. Pin well, and make sure the binding still goes past the original line of stitching.
Stitch in the ditch (or your preferred method) to secure the tail end and the binding. Secure the little folded triangle at the end of the button loop by sewing over the long straight edge of the triangle, otherwise your button loop will be too wide and will cause gaping at the center back.
Ta-dah! Neck- bound, button loop- created, and gorgeous to boot!
Just a few more steps to completing the dress- how is it so far?