This article on self made bias finishings is written by Joanna Carpenter, the creator and designer behind Fresh Press Patterns, a modern PDF sewing pattern company. Joanna was formally trained in fashion design and worked in the industry for years before stepping into the world of home sewing pattern design. She geeks out on sharing RTW sewing techniques.
So why do I LOVE using self made bias tape as a finishing technique? I have two reasons: One, it makes home sewn garments look more up to date, or fashion forward. Walk into any retail store and you’ll find the bias finish all over today’s garments. Two, I really, really dislike facings. I think facings tend to waste a lot of fabric, they can pull or stick out and most of the time they can be replaced with self bias tape to get a prettier finish.
Where can you apply a self bias finish? Necklines, armholes, sleeve hem finishes and even as a finish on the inside of waistbands. There are 2 things to consider before you decide to swap out a facing with self fabric bias:
1.The thickness of the self fabric.
2. Is the bias finish appropriate for the design?
Self bias is best applied to light weight fabrics. Think shirting weight. Anything thickerthan that will produce a very bulky finish. Also, natural fibers respond best so do test a strip of fabric prior to committing to the self bias finish.
Once you’ve decided to try self bias on a garment here are your steps:
1. Mark and cut off the seam allowance where you’ll be applying bias.
2. Decide the width of your finished bias. I like a 0.5cm-0.75cm width. I’ve found these widths to be the easiest to work with. If you’re undecided, using the width of the pressed foot as a guide for the width of the bias works too.
3. Once you’ve decided on your width, multiply the measurement by 4. You’ll be folding the tape 4 times in the sewing process.
4. Bias is supposed to be cut at a 45 degree angle but, I’ll be very honest and say I always “eyeball” the angle.
5. Now that you’ve decided the width of the bias and multiplied it by 4, it’s time to create a bias strip template. Making your own bias is a great way to use up scraps of fabric because you can create as many strips as you want of varying lengths and join them together for a continuous strip.
6. Your template will be a rectangle consisting of the total width of your bias and an average length of 25cm-30cm. The length of your bias template can vary and there is no set in stop length.
7. I avoid pressing my bias prior to working with it. I find I have a lot more control folding the bias as I sew it rather than working with a pre pressed one. This is also a RTW technique.
Your bias tape is cut, you’ve sewn the stips together with a 0.5cm seam allowance (I sew my seams in a straight line, rather than an angle and it seems to work just fine), pressed the seams open and trimmed the seam allowances to 0.25cm to reduce bulk.
Now you’re ready to apply your bias