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Get Biased Top

Knitnut | Posted in Patterns on

I just made the top featured in Threads July mag, and even used the corrections posted in the editorial in the aug/sept magazine.  The top is HUGE!  It is like a tent!  The hem goes down to my knees and the underarm is at my waist!  What went wrong?  Can anyone help?

My hip circum. is 45, which was used for the sides of the big square and the small one was 1/2 that 0r 22 1/2″.  It was a breeze to sew – but why so gosh awful big?  I can’t even think how to make it small enough to fit.

I’m 5’1″ with smaller shoulders, but for goodness sake – this thing is literally huge.  Any suggestions?




  1. funkyjazzdesigns | | #1


    I also made this top, following the revised directions, and found it to be much too large.  There was another post here that referenced  the "Carter Smith Bias Top".  I'm not up to speed on searching and inserting links so I'll give the info here and hope that you can find it.  The link was to Alice's House blog and the entry was for Nov. 19, 2007.  Try this to get there: aliceanjo.blogspot.com/2007/11/carter-smith-bias-top.html.

    Her directions said to "take your full bust measurement and subtract 4 - 6 inches from that amount".  The amount to subtract would depend on how stretchy the bias of your fabric was - more for more stretchy, less for less stretchy.  That resulting measurement would be the side of you larger square.  and then the directions were basically the same.

    Taking out that much fabric seemed to me like it would work, given the amount of extra fabric that I had with my first version.  I have not had time to make a second version with the different measurements; I do plan to do that once my schedule is a bit less hectic.  Let us all know if you do a second one and if the fit is better.

    Edited 7/13/2009 9:51 am ET by funkyjazzdesigns

    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #2

      Thank you so much!  I did get the instructions from the link you sent.  I will try that next weekend.  I hope the editors of the mag see the problem and print another correction.  I'm glad I'm not the only one with the issue!  Thanks again for helping me out.  I REALLY want to make this top.

  2. amm | | #3

    I'm the editorial assistant at Threads, and I've responded to a number of emails about the bias top. This article has proven to be a most unusual article for us. Many readers who wrote told us they simply loved the original pattern (in issue #143, pg. 42), loved the way it fit, and loved how easy it was to make. Others wrote to say it was too tight, too loose, too short, too long or didn't mention details and simply said it didn't fit. We can only assume that personal preference and body type are making the difference, as well as the bias stretch inherent in the fabric that is being used. I'll try to give some suggestions to those of you who want to make this top successfully.

    If any of you are having trouble visualizing how this works, I recommend making a small top out of paper.  I used lined paper--yellow for the large square (5 inches per side) and white for the small square (2-1/2 inches per side)--and transparent tape to "sew" the seams. I didn't use seam allowances, I simply butted the seams. Once I made my paper sample, I truly understood how the pattern works. The lines on the paper were like grain lines so it was easy to distinguish areas with a straight grain and those on the bias.

    As mentioned, I highly recommend making a muslin out of inexpensive fabric. The dimensions can be altered very easily, but the sides of the small square (before adding seam allowances) must be half the sides of the large square (before adding seam allowances). As you probably know, we added a blog post on our website and a correction in issue #144 suggesting that people use their hip measurement (and 1/2 hip) for the SIDES of the squares rather than for the diagonals as a solution to fitting problems. This technique has worked for many people. Since it's easier to measure using the hip/half-hip as the sides of the squares, it's actually an easier alternative to try. It also produces a larger top, so if you start with that method when you make your muslin, you'll be able to tweak it smaller until it fits perfectly. Just make certain the larger square is always twice the smaller one. Once you find the combination that's right for you, you'll want to make several because they are so quick and easy to make.


    If you are able to make a top that you're happy with, please consider posting your top or jacket on our website in the Reader's Closet gallery.  We'd all love to see it.


    April Mohr



    1. User avater
      Knitnut | | #4

      I greatly appreciate this post.  I'll see what I can do to tweak it.  It seemed like such a simple pattern - I hate having to monkey with it, but I understand.  Thanks again.

      1. 2sewNMe | | #5

        Hi, I thank April for her post ! She is right about the fitting being somewhat preference. I waited for the corrections before attempting so I made the large square my hip measurement. I do recommend doing the paper version first as I was totally befuddled til I actually pasted it together.

        It was very loose but graceful looking...so I started making more of the same decreasing down 2 inches (38, 36...for the large square). Heading more toward the original instructions. As the large square goes down, so does the length. So that is a consideration. As well as getting smaller (:-).  I am thinking of going back to large square being the hip measurement and then since you have to hem or band it anyway...perhaps taking tucks/darts before I hem to see if it gets some of the bulk out. I am 5'2 and none of them came past my high hip. I am also going to try it in a knit. Sorry to be so long winded...Susan

        1. sewfar | | #6

          I was really glad to read your comments on the length of the get biased top.  I have not made a sample yet and I was concerned about the length as I am 5'7' .    It looks so graceful and freeflowing in the magazine pictures but I can not wear things too short. 

          1. 2sewNMe | | #7

            Well you might be surprised at how good it looks on you. I made my husband try it on (poor soul has put up with me for 32 years!) He is six feet...and it really only came to a bit below the waist. try that little paper pattern...I used a 2 1/2 inch square and a 5 inch...and scotch taped it together. If you can envision the large square folded in half to become a triangle....those points will be the longest length...so you can figure where it will fall on you. You really have to try it. Took less than an hour....I didn't hem them as I made them out of tablecloths, didn't want to waste muslin (:-) Susan

          2. amm | | #8

            I agree that making a sample out of paper is extremely helpful.  When I first read the article, I just couldn't SEE what was happening, so I made a paper sample.  I made both squares from lined notebook paper with the lines on what would be the grainline if it were fabric.  I made the large square out of white lined paper and the small square out of yellow lined paper. I used tape and simply butted the seams, so there was no need to add seam allowances. My little sample made it very clear to me what was happening and how it all went together.  I found the lines were extrememly helpful to clearly distinguish the areas that were on grain and those that were on the bias.

          3. 2sewNMe | | #9

            Yes April, even though I could see it on the pages....it didn't make sense until I used your idea of the paper. When I cut that square open it was...ah ha ! It is really useful if you are trying to use fat quarters or align something for front or back. The top really does have a lot of creative uses for fabric. Surely it generated a lot of comments !  It is interesting that the original directions could work...as well as the corrected version...just depends on your body type and the fit you want. Thanks, Susan

          4. amm | | #10

            That's exactly the way it was for me.  Ah, ha! When you make it in paper, you realize how incredibly simple it is to make.  I didn't get that feeling reading it.  It actually seemed complicated when I read it, and it's anything but complicated. Once you determine what size square is right for you, you can make several in a day if you want to.  It's that simple.

    2. room2ndfloor | | #11

      Perhaps we big-hipped ladies are coming up with too much length.

      Mine came out too short for a dress, too long for a top.  I trimmed 2" at each seam; it's still a mess.  The underarm seam still reaches my waist, which I do not like.   I am taking it apart completely and using my fabric for something else.

      1. amm | | #13

        Perhaps you're right.  Perhaps it just isn't a good pattern for women with large hips, but it's definitely worth playing with by making a muslin, because if you can get it to work, it's an awesome pattern.  It's so incredibly quick to put together with lots of style options. I always save my old bed sheets for projects like this--lots of fabric to play with without spending any money!


  3. amm | | #12

    Hi Knitnut,

    Please read my previous Gatherings comment for a detailed response. It's best to make this top in a muslin first to get the perfect fit.  Then you can whip them out by the dozens in no time.  You can adjust the pattern easily but making the squares smaller or larger. The sides of the big square must always be twice the length of the sides of the small square NOT COUNTING THE SEAM ALLOWANCES. A small adjustment goes a long way, so I would start by reducing the size of the large square by 1/2 in and the sides of the small square by 1/4 inch. If it's still too big, try again or try a larger reduction.

    Be sure to post a photo of your final top on our website in Reader's Closet.

    April Mohr

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