Making Bias Binding
There are several options for finishing the neck and front edge of the gown. One of these is to use bias binding to cover the raw edges. Making your own is less expensive than using commercial binding and lets you match your fabric exactly.
Cutting the Bias Strips
You will only need about 28″ of binding for this gown, plus an additional yard or so if you use it for the ties as well. Begin by finding the bias of your fabric. To do this, fold a selvage edge up to a line that you know to be straight with the grain. Mark the diagonal fold with chalk. Now cut out 1″ strips of fabric along or parallel to this chalk line. If you are using scraps, you may have to mark the bias in several places to get enough strips.
Connecting the Strips
Trim the ends of all the strips so they are straight with the grain. This will put the ends at an angle with the strip itself. To sew the strips together, line up two strips at a right angle with the ends in line. Match the sides not at the corners but ¼″ below them, where the seam will actually cross. This is very similar to the straight binding seams described in Chapter 14. Sew the ends together, and press open. Trim off the little tabs that extend beyond the sides of the strip at the seams. The beginning end of your strip should be cut perpendicular to the strip, instead of on the diagonal.
Folding the Strip
You will need to fold the sides of the strip in ¼″. The easiest way to do this is to make a folding guide on your ironing board with a long pin. A long, glass-headed pin like the kind used to pin on a corsage works best, but any pin longer than 2″ will work.
Begin by folding and pressing the sides of your strip under for about 2″. Run your pin under your ironing board cover and out again about ¼″ away to anchor it. Slide your folded binding under the pin as close to the anchor as possible. Run the tip of the pin back into the ironing board cover as close to the other side of the binding as possible without actually catching the binding.
You need to be able to pull the binding strip under the pin, but you should not be able to slide the folded strip back and forth crossways under it. As you pull the binding through your guide, the ends will turn up, and you can press them. This isn't going to be one smooth movement, but more a matter of pulling the strip 1″ or 2″ and pressing. You may need to occasionally adjust the binding so the edges continue to turn under evenly.
When you are finished, you will need to fold the binding in half and press again. You can change your pin guide to fit this smaller size and use it again, though it doesn't always work as well for the second fold.
While you will save money by making your own binding if you are making only one gown, you might actually save money by buying binding if you are making several. You can probably bind as many as three gowns with one package of bias binding, and the time you would spend folding that much binding might make it worth the added upfront cost.