How to sew V necklines with facings

It’s been requested I do a tutorial on this so here goes. This particular tutorial will show two versions. The first with a one piece facing and the second with a pieced facing with the piecing at the “V”. While the latter isn’t common, the concepts will translate into similar situations where you have to sew a three way seam in tricky positions -like at a V. One example would be gusset junctures.

Note: for all views the muslin is facing and the blue is shell/self.

One piece V neckline
Mark off the seam allowance at the juncture of the V on whichever piece you’ll have on top. I choose the facing. Note: I’m using a 1/4″ seam allowance. This is standard for necklines and outside edges.

I’m doing this the long way. It wouldn’t be done like this in production on standard goods but probably would be in higher end. In real life, most of the time you’ll sew this in one pass. Below I start on one side of the V, near the point, hit the X and reposition to finish that side.

Below, you reverse that to finish the opposite side. Directionals aren’t marked.

The trick to getting a good point is clipping (below). You have to get close, very close. Clip right to the sewing threads. The sewing police will not come and get you for this.

Then you press the seams open getting the tip of your iron all the way into the point (below).

Here’s the inside finished (below). Beautiful, no? If I had any secret tip to tell you, it would be to tug down on the tip of the facing at the V while you’re pressing it. Sometimes it needs a bit of persuasion. More than that and you haven’t clipped far enough.

Another note regarding the above photo. Do note that the shell/self side of the neckline is slightly rolled to the inside and thus slightly visible as blue edging along the V. This is a good thing. You never want the facing and the shell/self seam line to be even-steven on the seam. Many times you have to under stitch something to get it to do this but this facing and neckline are cut off grain so it should roll easily.

And below is the outside. No puckers anywhere.

Two (or is it 3?) piece V neckline

Below are the pattern pieces. The facing is pieced at the V. You will run into similar circumstances with gussets so sew them just like this too.

As in the first example, I marked off the seam allowance. Below -and this is critical- STOP sewing at that point (neckline seam allowance marking). Do not sew the facing all the way through.

Below, press it open. In real life, I wouldn’t press at this stage because I want to keep the flap of allowance from getting in my way.

Let’s check our work, shall we? This one side is fine (below).

Below, the second side is off, it doesn’t hit the mark. Oh horrors! Whatever will we do now?  I just know that tons of you would be having kittens at this point. It is no big deal. It looks like it’s off a lot but consider the scale. Besides, it’s an easy repair.

The stitch line rules. Sew to the meet the end point of the seam facing and don’t worry about it. Do not catch any seam allowances in the stitching (I bet that’s where a lot of you had trouble eh?). Below I’ve also shown directionals. I got into the dumb habit when I was in school. Our machines didn’t have reverse so you had to turn something around on both ends to stay stitch. Maybe you’re better than me but I don’t do this operation often enough to stitch to the precise exact point from one position. Even then I sometimes have to lift the presser foot and adjust the placement of the goods when I’m half a stitch shy of the end point so the needle will end up exactly on point.

Below is the other side. Linse, rather and epeat. Hey, it’s Friday and I get to go home after this.

Below you can see the stitching from the wrong side of the shell/self side. The stitch lines don’t meet exactly at center. It’s close to impossible that they will. Again considering scale, the gap looks larger than it is. In real life, the gap is about one stitch length. That’s not too bad but I don’t think it should be any bigger than that. One stitch length of separation max on lightweight goods. If the goods are nappy or have a pile, you can skate a little.

As in the first example, I’ve clipped through. You have to use scissors with a very fine sharp tip. I am fond of a pair of home sewing applique scissors for this. That’s all I use them for, clipping corners and points. Gingher makes these but Southstar sells the well-respected Claus brand at one third the price. The mark up on scissors at fabric stores and home sewing supply places is outrageous but I digress. As in the first example, get as close as you can. I guarantee this will not fall apart; you’re cutting bias and bias does not ravel.

Again as in the first example, below I’ve pressed the seam allowances open (butterflied).

Below is the finished effect from the inside.

And below from the outside.

In sum, the tips are: clip very closely and in the case of the multi-part juncture, never sew through seam allowances.

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  1. Leslie Hanes says:

    We use knits and make the v-neck with self ribbing. I’m looking forward to you working on this with me in my shop (if we can fit it into the 300 other things I need help with). It would be great to supplement this tutorial with the “sportwear” version of v-neck finishes! I’m not completely happy with our process, and I’m pretty sure you will have some advice. Only 6 more sleeps!

  2. Liana says:

    Great tutorial! I’ve noticed that when I am being very particular and marking and matching seamlines rather than cutting lines, I tend to stitch only to the seamline junctions, and it makes everything SO much easier. I had wondered if this was really it, or if there was something else going on.

  3. Thanks for this tutorial Kathleen.

    Your tip , “tug down on the tip of the facing at the V while you’re pressing it” is SO valuable.
    A *little* tug when pressing any clipped and turned process (facing, welt, etc)..even if one must use a little clamp tool or tweezers to hold the bit being “tugged” (note- ‘tug’..not “pulled’) as in the case of the triangle ends of welts, makes for the professional finish we all seek.

  4. Kimberly says:

    This is terrific! I often use this technique in basting V type sitations in my synchronized swimwear and ice skating dresses. Great Tip even with different fabrics!

  5. LisaB says:

    Thanks, Kathleen. I’ll definitely try this on my next v-neck or gusset. It’s great to see a sewing tutorial on the blog again!

  6. crystal says:

    The advice is terrific and timely.. I just finished a garment with the two piece construction and had the darndest time getting it to lay flat. I now see what I did wrong. I will not be pulling this one apart but for the next one I will have it down pat!

  7. Valerie Burner says:

    Thanks for the sewing tutorial, Kathleen! They both look good! It sure is a nice break from all the CPSIA stuff. I think many of us needed something positive as well as constructive.

  8. ashley e says:

    Excellent tutorial, Kathleen. Great, clear pictures. One of my favorite home-sewing instructors always says “Don’t Be A Chicken Clipper!” — exhorting us all to do just what you say: clip right up to the stitching. That’s what you have to do to get the result you want. (Same technique goes for clipping buttonholes & some welts.) I also second your point about using a good tool — scissors that work for you. (Ack! no pun intended, really!) Find the tool that helps you be precise the first time, vs. having to snip a little more again. Scissors or snips that have a strong, sharp end-point that always cut exactly to their end-point are a joy to use. Those that don’t are a continuous PITA.
    In home-sewing, it is sometimes a good idea to reduce the stitch length if you’re going to be clipping up to those stitches. It strengthens the sewn line. Depending on the materials, though, sometimes it puts too much thread there and causes puckering or other poor results (lack of wanted draping). And as you pointed out, Kathleen, depending on the grain, it may be unnecessary. I imagine that production sewing processes are rightfully different.

  9. kpotenti says:

    Thanks so much Kathleen!! I love v-necks but just haven’t been able to get them right. I can’t wait to try.

  10. Raye Ann says:

    Wow- thanks for the great tutorial. I have never made an acceptable v-neck garment, but look forward to trying a new one with this method. Yippee!

  11. Ronke says:

    Thanks so much for this. I could never seem to get my vneck to lie down l

    Now i’ m gonna go try again! You rock

  12. Charlene says:

    I am making scrubs using a home pattern that has a double faced v neck and I have never been able to get this v neck right. Was wondering if I could get some help somehow with this. I have made my daughter about 15 of these scrubs and each neck has a few puckers.
    Thank you so much.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Charlene, I have no idea how they’re telling you to perform this operation and I don’t know what the pattern looks like. The way I’ve done it is using the same concept as a shirt sleeve placket. See this entry, there’s a lot to wade through (fore and aft) but I hope you’ll understand what I mean. Cut a sample neckline and straight strip to try it out. Hth.

  14. Charlene says:

    Thank you so much for responding to my email. The pattern has a pattern piece called neckband, and has you fold the two strips in half lengthwise WRONG sides together then placing one on top of the other to form a V and sew to neck edge and pivoting around the V. So hard to do. Any suggestions? Did I make sense? Anyway, thank you again.

  15. Haley Bazley says:

    Thanks. My sailor/vintage dress was looking terrible and I didn’t know how to remedy it.

    Perfect explanation. *two thumbs*

  16. Leigh says:

    You rock! Making myself crazy trying to get scrub top to look professional. Thanks so much for the excellent pics and easy instructions. These things just don’t come naturally to some of us….

  17. Yvonne Mary says:

    So, so clear. Thankyou. Some of us in the church choir like to make our own blouses being more economical. To achieve the same results as the professional dressmaker on a V neck has always been our problem until now.

  18. alicia says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! Just wondering – do you have any tips for finishing necklines & armholes with bias strips? I am wondering how they are sewn professionally. I can never get mine (despite trying various tutorials I have found online) to lay flat and not look like total crap.

    Thanks again.

  19. Carol Williams says:

    I just discovered your website today. I wish I knew about it a month ago. I just finished the Queen’s dress for an upcoming Sleeping Beauty play. The shoulder and armhole and V neck would have looked better if I had seen your tutorials before. I am an experienced seamstress but not nearly professional. I made this dress from crepe backed satin and I’m sure I would have been happier (I’m somewhat of a perfectionist) with the finished product had I read your tutorials beforehand. Thanks for sharing your expertice with all the rest of us in the cloud who don’t know these tips like the pros do.

  20. Ramona Hansraj says:

    Thank you ever so much. I am a self learner and I have been helping myself by sewing for myself and my boys and husband and I read a lot of sewing books and got ideas and now there’s the internet. There are so many little methods that are unknown to me but I get through. Thank you for this info you have helped me a lot and I now know what I have been doing wrong. God bless you. You are a great teacher.

  21. Janet B says:

    Thank you so much for all your details, me too, I am a self learner and also visual so all this pictures help a lot. You are a great teacher an a generous person thank again.

  22. Diane says:

    Thank you so much! I was having kittens over the v neck on a dress I was making. I love the photos as they are so helpful. Also love your sense of humour. Sewing police indeed :-0 Best wishes and thank you again

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