Finishing the Neckline
The raw edges of the neckline and the front of the gown need to be finished in some way that will be comfortable for the baby. There are several different ways to do this. A narrow hem or seam binding could take the place of bias tape. Making facing pieces for the neck edge is also an option.
Covered with Bias Tape
One choice that adds a visible trim to the front and neck is to encase the edge with double-fold bias tape. Begin by stay-stitching ⅝″ from the edge around the neck and along the open edges of the front.
Open the bias tape out completely. Fold up the end of the bias tape, and begin close to the closed seam at the center front. With the binding inside the stitches and the right sides together, line a raw edge of the tape up with the stitching line. Stitch along the first fold of the binding to the neck edge. Repeat with the other side of the front.
Trim the seam allowances slightly so the raw edge won't show under the bias tape, but leave enough that it folds to the back along the stay stitching. Turn the seam binding to the back, and hand- or machine-stitch.
Do the same across the top. If you want to use bias tape for the ties, extend the bias tape no more than 9″ beyond the front edge. Sew the layers together as you sew the last step of the binding in place. Make two more ties of the same length by stitching on top of the folded tape. Attach these ties behind the binding about two-thirds of the way down the open front.
Hemmed Edge and Faced Neck
You can use your pattern pieces to cut facings because the neck edge of the facings will be exactly like the body pieces. Remember to cut the back facing on a fold. Make them no more than 2″ wide.
The facings are prepared in the same way as you did the facings for the dress in Chapter 15, except that here interfacing is not necessary. In fact, interfacing might make the neck edge a little too stiff for a baby.
Sew the facing to the neck edge. Instead of having facing hanging over the edge as you did with the zippered back of the dress in Chapter 15, you will have facings that exactly match the front of the gown. Sew down the length of the facing along this edge. Clip the curves and corners, grade the seam allowance and turn the facing. Tack the facing to the shoulder seams.
The front edge of the gown, from the bottom of the facing to the top of the center seam, can be hemmed with a narrow hem, similar to the way the sleeves were hemmed. When you stitch this hem, continue the machine-stitching over the facing and around the neck for a more consistent or topstitched look.
Turned Under with Seam Binding
You can use seam binding or single-fold bias tape to turn under the edge of the front and neck. Begin by stay-stitching on the ⅝″ seam line. Place your seam binding outside these stitches, with one edge just over the stitching. Turn the binding's raw edge up, and begin at the lower front, stitching close to the edge that is along the stay stitching. Do the front edges separately, trim the raw edges of the seam allowance just shorter than the tape, and turn the seam binding to the back. Stitch close to the other edge of the seam binding, or hem it in place by hand.
Next, sew the seam binding to the neck edge, folding the ends up at the edges of the seam binding that encases the front. Stretch the fabric a little at the curves on the neck to give yourself a little more binding.
Trim the fabric seam allowance just shorter than the tape. You will need to clip the curves at the neck. Press the tape under. Stitch close to the other edge of the bias tape, or hem it in place by hand.
Stretch lace will be easier to work with than seam binding because of the curves in the garment. However, stretch lace will be scratchier for the baby. Single-fold bias tape, handled as if it were seam binding, will stretch as well, but it will be bulkier than seam binding. Weigh the benefits of each to make your decision.
If you don't like the idea of the edges of the gown merely meeting in front and would rather see them overlap, this is possible, too. Instead of pressing the center front seam open, press it toward the right side (if it's for a girl) or toward the left side (if it's for a boy). This creates one over side and one under side. You can hem the over side or use either seam binding or bias tape to finish it as already described.
For the underside, you will want to use as little of the seam allowance for finishing as possible. Covering the very edge with bias tape is the best choice.
Finish the neck edge any of the ways already described. If you choose to make facings, don't sew down the front on the underside. Leave it loose until it's turned, and catch it in the bias tape with the rest of the front edge.