Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stabilizing a V-Neck with Twill Tape

I've been moving right along on my version of Butterick 5814. One thing that's very important in a design like this is to stabilize the neckline. V-necklines are notorious for gaping. That's because the fabric is usually cut directly along the bias--the stretchiest part of the fabric. If it's not stabilized, the v-neck will continue to stretch over time. (Note: sometimes a design will have you cut the bodice piece so the v-neck is placed along the straight grain of the fabric, but it's more common that you'll see the straight grain at center front, which places the v-neck on the bias.)

You'll want to stabilize your neckline as soon as possible after cutting.

First, mark the neckline seamline with chalk (in other words, mark 5/8" in from the cut edge of the fabric). Here, I'm working on the right front bodice piece.

Next, cut a piece of 1/4" wide twill tape. Cut it 1/4" shorter than the length of the line you just marked.
Pin the twill tape at either end of your chalk line, just inside the seam allowance. (So the edge of your twill tape will butt up against your chalk line.) Because the twill tape is shorter than the chalk line, it will buckle up.
 Next, distribute the ease of the fabric into the twill tape by pinning all along it.
 Hand baste along the lower edge of the twill tape to keep it in place.
Repeat this process on the bodice left front, and both bodice back pieces. Then sew as usual! Though it looks a little ripply now, when the seam allowance is turned to the inside, the ripples will not show on your bodice. Do not trim down your twill tape when trimming seam allowances.

I did the same thing on the top of my raglan sleeves.

Now you have a neckline that won't stretch or gape!

P.S. I'll be taking the rest of the week off blogging in honor of Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a great holiday and weekend!


  1. Happy Turkey Day to you too!
    This is an excellent tutorial, perfect for so many of the 'stretchy' places like "V" necklines and low backs, thanks for making it look clear and simple. I'll have to try this on the next project where this problem crops up.

  2. Love this tip - thanks so much. I do love your blog! Have a very happy thanksgiving :o)

  3. I've been thinking about employing an elastic neckline stay with this dress, as elaborated in Couture Sewing Techniques. Any opinions?

  4. How would you do this for a v-neck that's one piece (not two pieces that cross each other.) Would you cut two pieces of twill tape, one for the left and one for the right side of the v, or one continuous piece that goes down one side and up the other?

  5. When I stabilize, I use strips of silk organza selvage and I measure it against the seamline of the pattern. I sometimes find that it has already stretched once you unpin it from the pattern/muslin.
    Nikki, I cut two pieces, and stitch them directionally. From the CF/CB to the shoulder seam.

  6. Thankyou so much for this tip - I think you saved me from a neckline-gaping tragedy on a dress I'm currently making. I started thinking maybe it needed extra support, but I didn't want to undo the lining or understitching I'd already painstakingly done by hand...I could stop it nagging at me though. When you posted this I knew the universe was telling me that it wasn't worth losing the dress due to sloppy neckline issues.
    And you were right, instant difference!
    Anyone thinking they'll skip this step - trust Gertie - DON'T!

  7. So when you sew the seam, are you catching the twill tape in the stitches? Or is the twill tape only attached via the basting stitches?

  8. Probably a stupid question, but I would have to preshrink the tape, right?

  9. Great tip!
    That's something we use in Bespoke Tailoring for stabilize the lapel and the curve of the bottom front.
    Usually we soak it for a few hours in cold water, then let it dry, then iron it.
    I was doing that in Lanvin and each time I had to do kilometers of it! :)
    The trick is to baste it really flat in most of the surface and give it some ease in the most curvy area...hmm I hope it makes sense.
    I could explain it better in french but I'm not sure it will be useful for the Gertie's Blog readers.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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