Essential Techniques: Rely on the Bias
For design options and construction ease, turn fabric on a slant
When I sew, I try to make things easier for myself. I rarely follow the pattern instructions exactly. As I plan the garment construction, I look ahead to anticipate problems such as matching stripes or plaids. I recently realized that some of my go-to solutions fall into one general category: cutting garment sections or whole patterns on the fabric’s bias grain. This change can make construction easier or more efficient, or create an area of interest in an otherwise bland garment.
The structure of woven fabric determines the bias. Lengthwise, or straight, grain (parallel to the selvage) is the warp. Crosswise grain (perpendicular to the selvage) is the weft. True bias is the 45-degree angle across those grainlines (see image above). When fabric is pulled at this angle—either when being handled or simply by gravity— the yarns can shift out of their perpendicular arrangement, according soft drape and flexibility.
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