Finish raw edges of shoulders, back and sides using preferred method. This will prevent fraying during sewing and make construction more efficient. When I start a new project, I like to test out a few different finishing techniques on a scrap of fabric and then choose my favorite.
Sidenote: I know it's a little unusual to finish edges before stitching and during testing some testers didn't like this process. I learned this method of construction in a costume design class that I took in college. In the class, the instructor had us finish all edges with an overlocker before stitching. It keeps everything tidy during stitching and you don't have to go back and forth between machines after each step. Even if you are finishing on a regular machine, you won't have to make adjustments to your stitch settings after every seam. It's just a little bit faster. And if your fabric frays a lot this will prevent it from fraying while you stitch. If you use the method of clipping into the seam allowance to mark notches then you won't lose the markings with finishing.
For this pattern, I only finish the seams noted because the other seams will be finished with binding or by hemming. All that said, do whatever you prefer. It's no biggie.
Step 2: Take the two back pieces and place them right sides together. To evenly pin together two pieces of fabric together, I like to start by placing one pin at the top and one at the bottom. Then fill in the middle. With the top and bottom secured, you can hold the fabric up, pull it taught and find where the fabric meets in the middle.
Place the fabric under the machine with the needle positioned at the circle marking, about 3 inches from the neckline. (I usually eyeball where to start the opening for the back neck. It just needs to open wide enough to get your head through and not too big to get gapey (that's a word right?).) Using a .5 inch seam allowance, stitch a couple of stitches then backstitch to secure it. Continue stitching all the way to the hem. Press the seam open including the open part at the neckline.
Note: If you are making the scoopneck, you don't technically need a button opening at the back neck. You'll be able to put the top over your head without it. However, I think it's a nice design detail (plus good practice!) and like to do it anyway.
Step 3: Make the buttonhole loop
Fold button loop with long edges right sides together. Stitch .25 inch from raw edge, backstitching at end. If the fabric is going down inside the machine when you start to stitch, place a piece of tissue paper underneath the fabric, extending towards the back. The feed dogs will grab the paper and help feed the fabric through.
Trim seam allowance to .125 inch. Turn loop right side out using tube turner or needle and thread. To turn using a needle and thread, grab the thread tails from the line of stitching and thread onto a large needle.
Push the needle through the tube being careful not to catch the fabric with the tip of the needle. Pull the threads until the end of the tube starts to fold inside.
Keep pulling and working the fabric until the tube is right side out and the seam allowance is inside. Trim the thread.
Fold raw edges of the tube together to form loop and pin to left side of back opening, .25 inch from neck edge. Baste in place along fold line. Check that your button will fit through the loop and adjust if necessary.
Fold seam allowance to wrong side and topstitch around opening at center back, pivoting at corners. When topstitching, I use a slightly longer stitch, 3.0.
And that's it! The sewalong will pick up again on Monday with the shoulder and side seams. If you haven't downloaded your pattern yet, now is great a time because I have a special discount code for the sewalong! Head over to the shop and use the code LBTSEWALONG25 to receive 25% off. Offer lasts until Feb 22, 2015 midnight PST.
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