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Amt of Ease for Bias Garments

AnnSilks | Posted in Fitting on

Good Morning,

In the streaming video of the latest Threads Challenge, Sandra Betzina says you need 5″ of ease across the stomach area of a bias dress.  While she is certainly built much differently than I am (short & squat with a defined waist & “breeding hips”), her comments lead me to my quest for info.

I am after the standard suggested amounts of ease for bias garments.  Is it 5″ at bust, waist & hips? Or should the different areas have different amounts.  What about upper arms?  I was born with “lunch lady arms” and if I decide to do bias sleeves, would like them to nicely skim those hams. 

I’ve searched past Threads Articles as well as a book I own on Bias Dressmaking but am not finding the info.  My intended fabrics are 100% linen and silk – crepe, charmeuse, etc.  Unfortunately, right now I don’t have the time to experiment to determine the amounts on my own so any help will be greatly appreciated.



  1. ShannonG4d | | #1


    In thinking this through as logically as I can, I've come to the conclusion that bias garments need approximately twice the amount of minimal ease that straight-grain garments would require.  Anything less would appear skimpy, as the bias will seem to have more weight than straight grain fabric and will 'drag' the fabric toward the floor. 

    I don't think you'd find this in a text.  It is, in fact, a matter of preference, and a matter of the garment being worn.  If you're headed to an awards show, you can wear your bias skin tight....with beading.....but I don't have an appointment on the red carpet anytime soon.  I'd rather wear my normal every day variety bias garments with a comfortable amount of ease....which is, as previously stated, twice what I'd normally require.


  2. SewNancy | | #2

    If you have the extra fabric cut the extra amount for ease and when fitting you can adjust to the amount that is flattering for you. Bias hugs the body more closely regardless of fabric. The linen and cotton will be less clingy than silk or other silky fabric. Also, you should mark the seamlines and use a wide seam allowance as the fabric stretches and you can't rely on sewing a set amount from the edge.

  3. carolfresia | | #3

    Shannon and Nancy, thanks for those replies. It's always hard to prescribe something like "correct amount of ease," since it is a matter of personal preference, but it sure is helpful to have some guidelines, at least!

    As Nancy points out, the fabric you use makes a big difference. Last summer, I made two bias dresses--simple, pull-over sleeveless shifts, with a slightly A-line shape. The first was in a somewhat heavy rayon twill, and it turned out exactly the way I wanted--skimming the body, flaring gracefully at the hem, and extremely comfortable. So I made a second in a lightweight (not handkerchief) linen. I knew the results would be different, but I was surprised by how much: this one doesn't skim or cling at all, and thus looks slightly shapeless through the waist. Whereas the rayon dress seemed to have a perfect fit, the linen one ended up too wide through the bust and underarm area, just because it didn't stretch downward. It's still quite wearable, and would count as a very good fit if it were ready-to-wear, but it's not exactly what I'd planned.

    Your body type may determine how much ease you like and wear, as well. I don't mind a closer fit through the waist, since (for the time being), my waist still exists. More or less! But I definitely don't like clinging through the hips or seat or thighs--those bulges are much better left concealed. A bias skirt will usually (unless it's in a very tight, stable fabric) not only cling to the body around the widest portion--wherever that is--but will also kind of funnel in below that point. On me, that makes for a rather unflattering pear-shaped contour. WIth a generous enough flare, though, a bias skirt will hang nicely from the hips/thighs, and swirl gently at the hem.

    Giving yourself some sizable seam allowances, along with the twice-as-much-ease rule Shannon suggests, will enable you to fine-tune the fit once you get the garment stitched up. Good luck!


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