Techniques for Finishing a Partial Armscye

Many sewing patterns that include a yoke-style bodice are designed with a lined yoke and an unlined skirt or bottom portion, leaving the need for the bottom portion of the armscye (or 'armhole') to be finished. Tie Dye Diva pattern examples are The Butterfly Dress pattern, The Fair & Square Top and Dress pattern, and The Every Day Top pattern. The liner serves to finish the neckline and, for sleeveless styles, finishes the top portion of the armcye, as well as encloses seams for comfort.

But how about finishing the bottom portion of that armscye? Here are a few options for finishing this edge. 
Sleeves. For patterns such as The Every Day Top, the inclusion of the sleeve means no additional finishing is needed. 
The Every Day Top Pattern

Let's look at some techniques for sleeveless patterns. First, before changing a pattern’s construction technique, be sure you know how much allowance for finishing is built into the partial armscye and adjust your pattern if the technique you plan to use will change the seam allowance. Otherwise, you'll dramatically change the fit of your garment. 
Hemming. If the partial armscye is not too steeply curved, you can simply press a narrow hem, by turning under ¼” (or a scant ¼”) and ¼” again and stitching close to the fold. If the curve is steep, you can carefully clip the curve after the first press-under, up to but not past the fold, before you turn again and stitch. This technique uses a ½” allowance.

Hemmed finish, inside and outside
The Fair & Square Top and Dress Pattern

Single fold bias tape. Open out one folded edge of bias tape. With right sides together, align the raw edge of the tape and the partial armsyce edge, and pin into place. Stitch into place along the fold of the bias tape, which ought to be at 1/4".  Clip the seam allowance through the bias tape and fabric, right up to the stitching line. Press the tape over to the wrong side of the fabric so that none of the tape shows on the right side and stitch into place near the fold. This technique uses a ¼” allowance.

Single fold bias tape, inside and outside.
The Butterfly Dress Pattern

A slightly quicker bias method is to cut a bias strip 1.25” wide. Press it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Align both raw edges of the strip with the raw edge of the armhole. Sew using a 1/4" seam allowance. Clip, fold and stitch as above. This technique uses a ¼” allowance. 

Quick bias finish, inside and outside

If your pattern armscye has a ½” allowance you can cut a 1.75” strip and sew with ½” seam allowance, then trim to ¼” after clipping (which is what is actually shown above).

The Fair & Square Dress and Top Pattern with our free Universal Flutter added

Double fold bias tape. This technique leaves bias tape visible on the outside of the garment. It can be a very cute way to add some detail! Use ½” wide double-fold bias tape. Open out one folded edge of bias tape. With right sides together, align the raw edge of the tape and the partial armsyce edge, and pin into place. Stitch into place along the fold, this should be ½” from the edge. Fold the tape over the raw edges, along the center fold. The inner fold should just cover your original line of stitching. From the right side, stitch just inside the seamline on the bias tape to finish. This technique uses 0" allowance. 

Double fold bias finish, inside and outside.
Butterfly Baby pattern, with bonus techniques from this post.
Enjoy choosing your favorite finish! And - swoon - did you notice the adorable fabric I used for the sample construction photos? I know you did. Thank you to Blend Fabrics for providing us with fabrics from the Born Wild collection by Ana Davis so that we can make great instructional tutorials like this one. We'll be showing you this Butterfly Baby Top on a model real soon!

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