Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tutorial: Bound Neckline on Scrubs

Scrubs are one thing that I always thought should be an easy sew, but pattern companies have failed me. Mostly they are OK, but the neckline finishes that they use are disappointing at best.  Facings and sewn on bands are what I've found, but all RTW scrubs that I've ever seen or worn have a bound neckline.  It's nicer looking and a cleaner finish inside.  Here is how I did mine.

You will need:
A scrub top pattern that you like (aside from the neckline finish!)
A bit of extra fabric for binding.  You'll probably have some scraps that will be plenty large after you cut out your scrubs.  You can skip all of the "making the binding" steps if you find commercial bias tape that is a color and width you like, but I wanted a fabric match and a different width, so I'm including the how-to for that.
Spray starch
Straightedge ruler
Chalk for marking
Fabric glue stick or basting tape

First you need to prep your pattern.  Since you will be binding the neckline, you want both back and front necklines to be at their finished height.  That is, remove any seam allowances for facings.
Now make the pattern for your bindings.  For the back, cut out a rectangle that is the length of your back neckline plus an inch or two for shaping, and four times the finished width.  For example, my back neckline is 9 inches long, and my finished binding width is 3/4 of an inch, so my back binding is 10 1/2 inches long and 4 inches wide. For the front binding, you will need two pieces (one for each side of the V), the length should be a little more than the length from the shoulder to the point of the V, and the same width as the back.  Remember that you will be cutting these out on the bias so that they will stretch and conform to the curve of your neckline.

Once you've cut out all of your pieces, you need to prep your bias strips.  You are basically making bias binding.  I find it very helpful to starch my bias strips before folding and pressing.  I think it helps to control the bias so that you don't end up all stretched out of shape.  So, saturate your strip with starch, then fold it in half and press the folded edge to form a crease.  (Wishing I had taken a picture here!)  Unfold, then fold the two raw edges in to meet in the middle.  Crease those edges and then fold it back in half.  It should be looking like double fold bias tape now.
Now you are ready to apply the neckline!  I do this as my first step in construction.  You can do it when you want, but it does need to be done before you sew the shoulder seams.
For the front neckline, you need to form the V from your two strips.  To determine the angle that you need to sew, line one piece of binding up just as it will be sewn to the neckline, then with your straightedge, draw a line on your binding along center front like so...

This is your cutting line.  Now take your other piece of binding and open it out - just the first fold and put the two wrong sides together, like so -

You can see my chalk line on top.  Now fold them back together.  The one with the chalk mark will fold along the crease, the other piece will be folding against the crease.

Now cut along your chalk line -

Unfold and put the two right sides together with the V's matching up.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Be sure to pivot at the corner with your needle in the crease.  Now trim your seam as closely as you can, particularly at the points.  Here's mine with only one side trimmed.

Now press the seams as flat as you can.  I just mash it with the iron.  It's hard to press them open, since you've trimmed them so short.

If you have any threads that hang over the folded edge trim them off.  They'll show.

Here's what it should look like now!  It's ready to be attached to the neckline.  Now for the big secret...  Glue!!

Get your fabric glue or basting tape and glue that baby down where you want it. This way, when you sew it on the layers won't slip and your edgestitching will catch both sides of the binding.

Now edgestitch it down, pivoting with your needle in the seam at the point of the V.  Isn't it pretty?  It looks just as nice on the other side.
For the back, just glue down the binding the same way, and edgestitch it down.  It curves a bit, but your tape has plenty of stretch, so just contour it as you are glueing.  Afterward, it may try to curve in or out.  Just press it down withe the iron and it will lie nice and flat.

Here are the front and back, ready to be sewn together at the side seams.  Now you can finish construction on your top however you like.  Neckline's done!

As pretty inside as it is on the outside!

As a final note, if you want your scrubs to be reversible this is the perfect neckline finish.  All you have to do is add an inside breast pocket and flat fell your seams.  Instant reversible scrub top!


gwensews said...

Thank you for the great tutorial. Your hubby can have a whole wardrobe of professional looking scrubs. I'm sure he's quite happy with them. Now, how about lab coats?

Beangirl said...

Cool! I have been avoiding that type of neckline binding for a while. (DH starts nursing school in a week... I'm still pretending I've never heard such a thing as "making custom-fit scrubs" but that might not last long!)

julia said...

Wow your scrubs are perfect. I made some for my daughter several years ago. The hardest part was the v neck!

amber said...

This is a great tutorial! That neckline looks completely RTW. Really nice work!

Angela said...

Wow! It's looks clean and neat!

Gretchen the Household Deity said...

What a nice neckline that is! Thank you for the tutorial.

Linda T said...

VERY Nice finish. thanks for sharing! I'm going to try this next scrub!

Digs said...

I LOVE the "have gluestick will achieve perfection" aspect of your tuturial. Rah, rah, Katie!!!!

Pam said...

Thank you! I had such a problem with this collar!

Kris C. said...

I love this! And your timing is perfect - I need to make new scrub shirts very shortly.

Michelle said...

Great tutorial, that neckline looks fantastic!!

Kris C. said...

I just made two new scrub shirts with this neckline - they look GREAT! My only problem was trying to trim the point of the V so that it has no ends hanging out. Any tricks?

TJ and Whitnee said...

This is great! I'd like to share a link to this tutorial on on June 6!

KID, MD said...

I'm so glad that folks have found this useful! Please feel free to link to it if you feel others would benefit as well.

Anonymous said...

I was positively pulling my hair out on the hard way of attaching interfacing/ gave me my sanity back! This method is SO simple and quick...I would never ever attempt those facings the old way!
Thank you SO much!

EFKaplan said...

I'm a Medical Assistant. This post is exactly what I needed!

Also, on non-solids, contrasting binding matching the pockets or even sleeves or color blocking would be fantastic.

Thanks for all you do. =)

Wendy C said...

my mom works in a hospital (she's a phlebotomist) and she likes to have different scrub tops then her coworkers. I tried to sew tops by following the instructions that came with the pattern i bought. Big mistake. That left me confused and frustrated. Then I saw your post and followed everything you did and I just finished my FIRST (and not my last) scrub top. I Am soooo super proud of myself today!!

Wendy C
Palm Springs, CA

Elle C said...

This comment is very long over due. I absolutely love this method of finishing a neckline. I have been using it for years. I have probably made over 20 scrubs using your marvelous technique. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Katie Deshazer said...

I am so glad this was helpful! It's good to hear people are still using this method!

Katie Deshazer said...

I'm so glad you found it helpful! It's really good to hear this tutorial is still useful!