Johanna's Garb

Keyhole Neckline Facing

I find it best to complete the neckline finish before constructing the garment for 2 reasons:

  1. The chalk markings for the shoulder seams can brush off during the construction process.
  2. It is easier to finish the neckline while the fabric is flat, than after the sleeves are attached.

I strongly advise making a very small clip (1/4") on the edges of the body fabric to mark the shoulder line as soon as possible. Pins fall out and chalk will brush away. Marking pens "ink" fade with time and moisture.

There are multiple ways to finish a keyhole neckline— I like facing the neck.

Facings are a fairly simple, neat neck finish. It can be made from the same fabric as the garment, or from a contrasting fabric. Most facings are cut around 2" wide. You can make it larger or smaller, but for our purposes, I will give instructions for a 2" cut facing.

Facing Diagram 1Using the keyhole neckline pattern, make a facing pattern. Lay the pattern on sturdy paper and pin in place. Trace neckline opening and slit. Also mark the paper with the shoulder lines and back line. Remove the neckline pattern from your new facing pattern, and prepare to draw the facing.

Use a straight edge (or ruler), lightly draw a line extending the slit line approx 2.5". This will mark the bottom of the facing. Do not cut past the the pattern slit.

Facing Diagram 2Now draw small dots around the neckline, 2" from the neckline. See illustration.

Facing Diagram 3Connect the dots, to draw the outer edge of the facing for the neckline. Using the same technique, draw lines on either side of the slit, 2" away from the slit. See the illustration. You can now erase the light line extending down from the slit

Now cut out the facing pattern, (make sure you can see the back line and shoulder markings)

Choose your facing fabric and lay it on a flat surface, wrong side up. Smooth the fabric. Carefully place the pattern and pin securely. Cut out the facing, both the outside edge and the inside edge, including the slit (don't cut past the original slit). Before you remove the pins, mark the shoulder and back lines on the facing fabric.

Facing Diagram 4Your fabric should look like this; please note the line markings for shoulders and back.

Now to apply the facing to the tunic body.

When you cut the tunic body piece, you should have marked the center point and lines. If you haven't, do so now. Mark the shoulder lines, and back and front lines, with chalk on the RIGHT side of the fabric (the side that will be seen). The back line should be marked for about 4", and the front line at least 9" from the center point.

Lay the tunic body on a flat surface, right side up. You should see your markings. Smooth the fabric. Carefully place the facing in place, matching up the shoulder lines, and the back lines. The front slit on the facing should line up with the marked front line on the tunic fabric. Carefully pin the facing to the fabric. If you hand baste the facing in place, it won't shift when sewing. Make sure both the body fabric and facing are smooth, and the marks line up before sewing in place.

Now stitch approximately 1/4" from the neckline edge and slit. Your stitches should be small. When you approach the point of the slit you will need to get very close to cut edge, just a few threads away. see illustration of this detail. The thin black dashed line represents the stitches.

Clipped SeamsNow that the facing is securely stitched, remove basting threads/ pins. Carefully cut out the neckline and slit, being careful to not cut through stitching line. You will need to clip the curved edge of the neckline, and the points at the center front, before you turn the facing to the inside. clip with scissors every 1/2 to 1" on curves, and cut off the tip of the points, so that the excess material in the seam allowance is eliminated. This will produce a much smoother edge, with no bunching. See illustration of this detail. The thin black dashed line represents the stitches.

Now turn the facing to the inside of the body. The points in front may need a little push to lie smooth - take the tip of a pencil, or a pointer and push from the inside. Gently smooth the neckline, and press smooth. the edges of the facing may be stitched to keep the facing in place. Or if trim will be applied to the neckline, the stitches that hold the trim will secure the facing.