I just love the look of a narrow bias binding around the neckline or armhole of a pretty dress, especially when matching fabric is used. This couture sewing technique appeals to my classic, tailored fashion vibe, and it is really quite easy to do.
In this post, I’ll show you how to sew bias binding on a neck edge, and am also going to show you how to add a small bow to finish the binding at the zipper edge — a technique I learned from couture expert Marla Kazell and also taught by Bobbie Carr.
French cotton dress with bias binding used on neckline and armholes
How to sew bias binding on a neck edge
Cut bias strips 6x the seam allowance width.
For example, if you want a bias edge with a finished width of 3/8″, cut strips 2 1/4 ” wide.
Fold the bias strip in half and press, being careful not to stretch the strip out of shape.
Stay-stitch the neck edge, and trim off the seam allowance.
Using the desired seam allowance (in our example 3/8″), stitch the raw edges of the bias binding to the neck edge so the pressed fold edge is free. If you plan to make a bow closure, be sure to leave a long tail at one end.
Using a single thread, fold the binding to the wrong side of the garment and whip the pressed fold to the machine stitching with small hand stitches.
On one side of the zipper, wrap and tuck the binding neatly to finish the edge. On the other side, sew the binding closed for several inches beyond the zipper for the bow.
Cut the binding to the desired length, and wrap a short section to the wrong side and pin. This is the first half of the bow.
Move the pinned edge of the binding next to the zipper edge of the dress, forming the second half of the bow. Adjust as needed to make both sides equal in length.
Using a single thread, whip-stitch the raw edge of the binding to neck edge binding.
Wrap your thread several times around the center of the bow and tie your thread off securely.
Isn’t that a sweet little touch to finish off a bias binding around a zipper? You can also add a snap if necessary to make sure the bow lays flat against the garment.