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Tips & Techniques > A few tips for bias-cut garments

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Posted by: LauraLo

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Member since: 1/25/06
Reviews: 80 (tips: 11)
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Posted on: 6/12/07 9:43 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 31 people   
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I like bias-cut garments very much. I find them flattering for the figure and feminine. My first bias skirt, tried years ago, was a total wadder. I was so depressed that I haven't tried sewing anything on bias until recently this year.
I'm trying to list here a few tips that helped me "tame" the bias-cut garments. Many of them are probably the result of reading various articles but I can't remember any of them so I won't be able to quote.
1) Especially when working with thin slippery fabrics, I use homemade starch to make the fabric as stiff as possible. It's very easy to work with it afterwards. Caution however, from my experience, starched fabrics tend to dry off grain and you have to straighten them when pressing them (before cutting)
2) Staystitch waistlines, necklines, armholes immediately after cutting.
3) Stabilise (I use premade fusible tape or strips of fusible knit) zip openings. A good idea is to center the strips on the seamline and thus your zip won't "poke" (like it does happen in my bias RTW skirts)
4) Stitch the darts (in thin fabrics) using the one-thread technique, which makes the point perfect
5) Sew side seams using a stretch stitch (a narrow zigzag, 0.5 mm width and about 2.5 mm length) and gently stretch the seam while sewing. Therefore:
6) Mark the stitching lines, either with vanishing pencil, chalk or by thread-tracing. If you use your presser foot as a guide and strech while sewing, the seam allowances will appear narrower and when finished and the seam allowances relax, you will discover they are much wider (2.5 cm for instance instead of the 1.5 cm you thought). As a result, the garment will be narrower (especially after hanging) and cling too much to your body
7) Experiment with wider allowances. The excessive ease often drops when the garment hangs, reducing the amount to the standard that you're used to.
8) Normally the bias doesn't fray, so you could leave the seams unfinished. However, satin does fray quite a lot. I prefer to leave the seems unfinished and press them apart. When sewing satin, I serged the allowances together (the finishing needs to be elastic, to have some give, just like the stitching). I haven't tried a Hong Kong finish because I only did thin skirts so far (satin and organza)
9) Always hang the garment overnight. I usufally hang it for 72 hours. You will find out that it gets longer and narrower and your initial hemline gets distorted, the skirt is longer in some places and shorter in others. After hanging, I correct the hemline (use the pattern again), decide the length and sew a narrow hem or I use my serger to do a rolled hem. On my last skirt, I did a scalloped hem and I like it very much.

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elder said... (12/7/08 1:41 PM) Reply
some new suggestions
KathleenS said... (6/16/07 11:15 PM) Reply
Thanks for gathering all these tips together in one place. I love bias too.
AnneM said... (6/16/07 9:18 PM) Reply
Good tips. I like bias, although I really haven't used it that much.
LauraLo said... (6/15/07 3:14 AM) Reply
Mimicj, this is what you do. Your machine is threaded normally. You loosen upper tension to 0. You take the thread out of your needle, pull the bobbin thread and thread it through your needle in a reverse way (from the back of the needle to its front - use a needle threader it's so much easier). You knot this thread to the upper thread and you pull carefully the thread until the knot that you made has passed all threading guides and is at the spool. You pull it some more, I usually pull about 10 cm more, just to be sure. Than you sew your dart STARTING AT THE TIP of the dart and without reinforcing. That's it. To sew another dart, you must repeat all the steps above. Hope that helps. LauraLo
Mimicj said... (6/14/07 4:29 PM) Reply
Please explain further: Stitch the darts (in thin fabrics) using the one-thread technique, which makes the point perfect. Thanks, Carol J.
Luckie Kay Locke said... (6/13/07 5:14 PM) Reply
thank you lkl
LauraLo said... (6/13/07 9:13 AM) Reply
Yes, Sharon, try again. My first one was a disaster also, but lately I've done two and I'm very happy with both. You can read the reviews, if you want, I recently reviewed both of them.
sharon4 said... (6/13/07 8:58 AM) Reply
Thanks for taking the time to post these tips. My first (and only) bias skirt was a major flop but I think I'll try one again:)
CarolynGM said... (6/13/07 7:37 AM) Reply
It's very helpful to have several great tips all in one place.
fatbaby said... (6/13/07 7:34 AM) Reply
Great tips, Thanks sew much! I also like the look of bias but was afraid to attempt one. I think now I can manage it. I really appreciate your sharing of your tips. Wanda (fatbaby)
LauraLo said... (6/13/07 5:43 AM) Reply
Good luck with your skirt, I'm sure you will be alright even if you did things you shouldn't have done. Can't wait to see the photo and review of your skirt. LauraLo
yorkshire lass said... (6/13/07 5:14 AM) Reply
Thank you for these timely tips. I am in the middle of making my first bias cut skirt and reading your tips I have done many things I should not have done!! Oops. But I will follow them all next time.
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