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How to finish a cowl neckline

4 November 2011, 15:12

As promised yesterday, here’s a really cool technique I used to sew the shoulder seams and get a clean finish at the neckline of my MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue) all in one go.

It’s a variation of “the burrito method”, and you can use it on any top where you’ve got a facing on one side, and a folded edge on the other. So it doesn’t have to be cowl necks, it’ll also work for surplice or wrap necklines with a self-facing, too!

This comes fairly early in the construction of your garment, but by this point you should have already sewn your facing (in this case, my back neck facing) to the body of the garment (the back here), right sides together. You should also stabilise your shoulder seams, either by using Vilene bias tape like I have, or with strips of knit interfacing or clear elastic – whatever your preferred method is!

In my example, I’ve got a back neck facing which is a separate piece, and a folded (ie: integrated) facing on the front.

Step 1. Pin the shoulder seams together from the shoulder edge to the back facing stitching line, right sides together. Keep the front facing and the back facing out flat (ie: don’t pin them!)

Step 2. Fold the back facing onto the shoulder seam so the wrong side of the back facing is on top of the wrong side of the back piece. Make sure your earlier stitching is just visible before the fold.

Step 3. Now take the front facing and fold it up and over on top of the back facing, so that the right side of the front facing is against the right side of the back facing. Yes, this feels wrong, but trust me!

Step 4. Serge or sew the shoulder seam through all layers. If you’re slightly unsure of how this will turn out, baste it first!

Step 5. Flip all the facings so the right sides are out. (The view above is for the inside of the garment, though!) Et voila! A nice clean finish on your neck edge, and for a few inches up the shoulder seam, too.

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  1. Are you running elastic or stablizer along the shoulder seams? I’m making a turtleneck and I’m not sure which to use. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    — Deirdre    Oct 31, 12:11 AM    #
  2. Made some draped neck T-shirts this summer too. Love your blog and your Donna Karan Vogue shirted top made me attempt it. Not to your standard but at least it’s made

    Ruth    Nov 5, 11:02 PM    #
  3. thanks melissa for this tutorial, your top looks lovely. I have ordered the magazine just to make this top so it will be really helpful.

    — linda in australia    Nov 6, 03:09 AM    #
  4. Hi, Melissa! I love your top, I really thought the fabric was lace, lol! This top was the first pattern I made from this magazine, too. I used bias tape instead of facing at the back neck, but I sewed the front facing the same way you explained, as it hides the SA and makes a beautiful finish :)

    — Olga    Nov 6, 08:10 PM    #
  5. Thank you for this clear tutorial. Was at a loss at what to do with regards to burdastyle magazine 01/2011 #131 wrap top’s back neck finishing. Thanks to you I have a smooth neat professional finish.

    — floralwhirl    Aug 7, 04:47 PM    #

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