The Eloise dress is such a quick and satisfying sew, with so much mix and match-ability in her variations that no two dresses will be alike. Throughout this sewalong, we'll be breaking down the making of your Eloise into detailed step by step instructions, accompanied by photos and plenty of extra tips and tricks. In this post we'll be making the little button loop, showing you two different ways to finish the neckline, and closing the centre back seam.
In this post we will be:
- Assembling the button loop
- Assembling the neckline facing (if you're fairly new to dressmaking then this technique is for you! Finishing a neckline with a facing is nice and straightforward and makes for a flawless finish without the need for any tricksy topstitching)
- Joining the neckline facing
- Finishing the neckline alternatively with bias binding
- Closing the centre back seam
MAKING THE BUTTON LOOP
The button loop is essentially just a tiny rouleau. Take your small bias cut strip, and fold it lengthways right sides together. Pin to secure.
Stitch the length with 1/4" or 6mm seam allowance, leaving each short end open through which to turn it out. Trim down the excess seam allowance.
Use a loop turner to turn the rouleau to the right side. If you don't have a loop turner you could use a crochet hook instead.
If you are going to be finishing your neckline with bias binding, you do not need to baste your button loop just yet; skip to finishing the neckline with bias binding.
FINISHING THE NECKLINE WITH THE FACING
Before you join the neckline facing, you'll need to finish the raw edge lengths of your open centre back. We totally forgot while we were making this dress, and trying to overlock the centre back after the facing had gone in was a near impossible task let me tell you!
Take your neckline facing front and back pieces and lay them right sides together and stitch the shoulder seams with the usual 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance, and press open.
Before joining the neckline facing is it a good idea to finish the raw non-neckline edge to prevent it from fraying. We've overlocked the edge, but you could also zigzag, or give it a little hem by pressing the raw edge in to the wrong side by 1/4" or 6mm and stitching into place.
Now take your dress and lay it out so that the right side of the neckline is facing you. Take your button rouleau and fold it into a loop. Place it at the centre back facing into the dress and pin it 3/8" - 1/2" or 10mm - 12mm from the neckline in order to allow for the facing to be stitched. How long you allow your loop to be will depend on the button it has to go over. Baste the loop into place with a couple of stitches back and forth 3/8" or 10mm from the centre back edge.
Still with the right side of your dress facing you, take the neckline facing and pin it into place at the dress' neckline, right sides together and matching centre back, shoulder seams and centre front, sandwiching the loop between the two layers.
Start stitching up one side of the centre back with 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance, pivoting when you get to the neckline. Stitch the neckline with 3/8" or 10mm seam allowance, and go back to 5/8" when you get to the centre back on the other side.
Grade the seam allowance at the neckline to reduce bulk, clipping into the curves and corners to release tension when you turn it out to the right side. You want to grade the seam allowance by trimming the facing layer of seam allowance down to a scant 1/8" or 3mm, and the other layer down to 1/4" or 6mm.
Turn the facing to the inside of your dress and give the neckline a good press. If you find that the facing doesn't want to lie flat on the inside of the dress, you could understitch the excess seam allowance to the facing, but in this particular case it can be extra tricky to do so because the centre back seam has also been sewn. Understitching the whole neckline facing may be impossible, but you could understitch the bulk of the neckline curve, which will help enormously. Please check out our understitching tutorial here.
You can also help keep the facing in place by tacking it down to the dress at the shoulder seams with a few hand stitches.
Finish by closing the centre back seam, right sides together, by stitching from the hem and up to about a few millimetres beyond the end of the facing.
FINISHING THE NECKLINE WITH BIAS BINDING
This technique - the bias faced neckline - although slightly trickier, gives a really neat and satisfying finish both inside and out, and means you could even use a contrast binding for a pop of colour or a flash of a clashing print!
Start by closing the centre back seam, right sides together, stitching from the hem up to the notch that lies about 7" from the neckline. We need this opening in order to get the dress over our heads! Press the centre back seam open, continuing to press it open all the way up to the neckline, and finish the excess.
Take a length of binding (check out our how to make bias binding tutorial here) and pin it, right sides together, to the neckline starting at the pressed centre back, allowing the binding to extend about half an inch beyond the centre back at both sides.
Stitch into place, 3/8" or 10mm from the raw edge.
Trim the excess seam allowance...
...and press the seam allowance into the dress, then press the raw edge of the binding in by 1/4" or 6mm, and press the extending ends of the binding in to match the centre back.
Now press the whole binding in to the inside of the neckline and pin into place, taking your button rouleau (folded into a loop) and tucking it into the binding at the centre back (which side is up to you). How long you allow your loop to be will depend on the button it has to go over.
Stitch the binding into place from the wrong side, keeping nice and close to the fold of the binding but remembering to keep your stitches parallel to the neckline's edge so that they appear neat and straight from the right side.
When you get to the end, stitch across the end of the binding in order to secure the loop.
NEXT UP ON THE ELOISE SEWALONG...
In the next post, we'll be finishing the sleeveless armholes of Variation 1...