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Spruce Up Your Shirt Hem

Bias trim and triangular insets at the side hem give you an excuse not to tuck in the shirttails of this "Bells and Whistles" shirt by The Sewing Workshop.

Subtle hem details can change the look of an ordinary shirt, and they’re a cinch to add. You could even update an existing shirt with this technique of adding contrasting bias binding. Of course, you will want to wear these shirts untucked.

Contrasting bias binding is added after the shirt has been hemmed with a traditional, double-fold shirttail hem that finishes at 1/2 inch wide.

1. Measure the length along the upper curve of the hem you want to bind.

Cut a strip of fabric on the bias that is the desired length plus 1 inch, by 2 inches wide.

3. Fold the short ends 1/2 inch to the wrong side, and press. With wrong sides together, press the strip in half lengthwise; then open the strip and press the long edges to the wrong side, so they meet the center creaseline. Alternatively, use a bias tape-making tool to form a double-fold bias strip.

4. Enclose the hem edge within the folded bias strip. Place the strip about 1 1/2 inches from the side seam on the shirt front, and extend it around to the shirt back. Attach the binding by edgestitching through all layers of the shirt and the binding.

Excerpted from “Top-Drawer Shirts,” Threads #156, Aug./Sept.2011.


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  1. kimdesigns | | #1

    I love this idea, but I always wonder how to catch both sides of the bias in one step as described. I invariably miss the back side and it doesn't look professional.

  2. dominote | | #2

    I was pleased to find out that I had taught my daughter in law to make bias binding the same way you have taught here. but I am wondering if you could off set the center fold a bit, not much and then fold in the long edges making the back just a hair wider,like the bias tape you would buy. Worth try anyway. I do know it's hard if there isn't a wider side to catch it. another thought would be to stitch it to the wrong side first and then pull it over and to the front and then top stitch the front side down. That should definitely work. Try these on a small piece of fabric first and see how it works:)

  3. Betzie | | #3

    I always apply this type of bias in two steps, sewing it to the wrong side first, then flipping it around to the front and topstitching close to the edge. It looks perfect.

  4. User avater
    sewold | | #4

    Either of the first two suggestions works but, unless it is a really formal application (which this isn't), I usually just use a zig-zag stitch. This you can stitch in one step, catching both edges of the folded bias.

  5. Judyta | | #5

    Now Why didn't "I" think of this ? ? :-)

  6. gingerink | | #6

    I most often use the bias edge in a more formal application [currently doing white edges on a black dress], and so don't want *any* stitches showing on the front! I sew the front edge first by machine, then wrap the bias "tape" to the back and sew the back edge by hand. Very classy!--if I do say so myself that shouldn't. ;)

  7. bubbie | | #7

    CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. lapark | | #8

    i have looked and looked at this picture and read the article. for some reason i can't make the shirt make sense to me. how does the very front look with out the models hand to her neck? does the yellow bias just hang loosely and the brown bias make up the placket for the buttons/button holes? does it hang straight down or is it all sewn at an angle?

  9. puffinquilter | | #9

    Lapark: Bless your heart. That's all her necktie, or scarf. Look at the hem of the shirt. Have a great day!

  10. ch11111 | | #10

    I agree with lapark. It is a poor picture of the topic. In my experience, application of bias in this fashion requires very careful placement and sometimes hand basting to look professional. Creating your bias in the fashion described by dominote is the best way.

  11. SUZAG57 | | #11

    I'm sorry but being a larger gal, this just looks like I am adding a piece of fabric to make it larger...I don't really care for the look. I can remember as a child, my mother would sew and "extension" on my hems when things were getting short also...LOL

  12. User avater
    clothingeng | | #12

    I love this idea...inspires me to update many of my blouses that are just hanging in the closet. It's a very artsy look that doesn't have to be just perfect, since it's not a formal look but more casual. Love it!

  13. User avater
    racu | | #13

    I don't like two things: hems and applying bias tape. This is my worst nightmare heheheh!

  14. Vintgred | | #14

    Very frustrating to have the front page photo show placket and cuff details that aren't featured in the article. Did I miss a link to them? Bordering on false advertising.

  15. jgflo | | #15

    You skipped the triangle insertion info.

  16. pheemil | | #16

    Now, this was fairly easy! I tried the triangel(just figured it out by looking at picture) and the bias part- it's so cute and perky !

  17. quilterly | | #17

    Love the idea for the contrasting details but can't find the link for the cuffs

  18. User avater
    Lainysews | | #18

    It looks like someone ran out of fabric and had to scrounge in the stash for some to finish. Ugh.

  19. andrearoseus | | #19

    Lovely ....

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