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Need bias help

nmog | Posted in Talk With Us on

I’ve had some experience with bias cuts, so I thought that I would tackle Simplicity 4045 (the dress). It seemed easy, but I’m struggling with the fabric. I cut it out and then let it hang for a week. One side’s longer than the other now, but that’s an easy fix. However, when I basted everything the dress was 6 inches too wide. I cut the dress down but am still having the same problem. The fabric is a poly and I would have thought that the weave would work for bias.
Should I weight the bottom of the dress? I’m hoping to get away with a simple solution!

Thank you for your help.

Nicole, consistently confused


  1. ineedaserger329 | | #1

    I can't help you much with the weighting Idea, I think it would work if it is a long dress, but if it is short, i could see your seems twisting some....It may have been the way the person that made the dress cut the seems, but I have seen that disaster, I'm just not sure how it happened (I saw pictures)....But I have heard about simplicity patterns that are cut to measurements ending up MUCH larger than they were supposed to...

    1. nmog | | #2

      Yes, Simplicity patterns can be crazy to fit. I thought that I had done my research, though. Hmm. The 'dress' is currently hanging with skirt hangers attached to its bottom so it will stretch. It is possible to use a rack lke they had in medieval torture chambers?Nicole

      1. ineedaserger329 | | #19

        Good luck finding one...I'm not sure the neighbors will take kindly to that sitting in the back yard....

  2. PASDENOM | | #3

    My understanding is the fabric should hang before you cut, so it won't grow afterword and distort the pieces.

    Yes, Simplicity measurements often are way off, that's why a muslin is always worth doing.

    Your fabric might not work for this. What were the suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope?

    Edited 3/18/2007 7:55 pm ET by PASDENOM

  3. woodruff | | #4

    Since bias stretches vertically, it must be considerably larger in diameter than the person who will be wearing it. Six inches of wiggle room does not sound like a lot to me; some people say ten inches is good for bias.

    The only places you want the bias dress close-fitting are the armholes and the neckline, which you would stabilize with binding or facing.

    Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton both say to use your steam iron to stretch the cut-out pieces on the ironing board BEFORE sewing the garment, re-cutting if needed after the fabric has cooled. The idea is to simulate what gravity is going to do anyhow, thereby eliminating some of the guesswork. Hanging the garment for a certain or varying period of time is the older method of approaching this problem.

    There is a lot of info available to hit before you commence working with this kind of cut. The Threads website has at least one online article devoted to working with bias, which you may want to read.

    1. user-51823 | | #5

      ditto re the extra width needed for the bias. when hung, the bias grows vertically because it is compressing horizontally. when you put it on, it should mold to your body.
      have you tried it on since cutting away the excess?
      i would not weight it, but let gravity make it fall where it will.
      when cutting a bias dress, i floow directions to a T, sometimes cutting hem a little longer. hang it for a few days and then re-cut only a new hem (as it will definitely be assymetrical after hanging).
      will be waiting to hear how this turns out.

      1. nmog | | #7

        Yes, when I tried it on it was 4 inches too big. I'll try to steam it and see if that helps. I only basted it this time, so at least my seam ripper will be happy!
        Thank you for your help.

        1. Teaf5 | | #8

          Before you throw it away, try crinkling it. Wet the whole dress, wring it, twist it, and put rubber bands every few inches, then let it dry or dry it in the warmest dryer the fabric will withstand. It may not work with polyester, but crinkly is a big fashion look right now, and it would eat up those extra inches very effectively.

          1. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #9

            Crinkling polyester can be done in the microwave.  I've done it many times, even my daughter's grad dress (with 3 layers of "cooked" polyester gauze and chiffon).  The crinkles are permanent.  One of the Singer Sewing books, I don't recall which one (I'm at work so can't check) has the instructions for it.  You crinkle after construction but before zippers, buttons, or anything metal or plastic are added.

          2. Teaf5 | | #10

            Polyester can be set in a microwave? That's amazing! I LOVE this forum and learn something new every time I sign on. Do you suppose you could set pleats in polyester by microwaving the fabric? Oh, my family is going to howl with laughter when they see me testing this new idea in our kitchen this evening...

          3. Cherrypops | | #11

            Hey you got me laughing!

            Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble....Teaf stirring the pot again. All for fashion this time.

            Have lots of fun experimenting.


          4. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #12

            I'm home now so here are the instructions for microwaving fabric.  This only works for polyester fabric as it heat sets the wrinkles.  It will give moderate wrinkles to a poly/cotton.  DO NOT use rayon as it gives off a toxic gas!!!!  Sew garment.  Do not sew on buttons, zippers, elastic, or anything plastic or metal.  Wet the fabric thoroughly and squeeze out excess moisture.  Twist fabric until it is tightly coiled and wind it into a ball.  Wrap and tie cotton (use cotton only) string around the ball and tie securely.  Microwave on low for 4 minutes, then let it rest 4 minutes.  Do this 5 times.  If you have an old microwave without turntable, give it a 1/4 turn each time.  Then tie the ball securely in the toe of an old nylon stocking and throw in the dryer with a couple dry towels.  Remove when dry.  (Sometimes I skip this step, wait until the fabric is cooled off and carefully untie, give it shake and air dry.)  Occassionally, I've repeated the process to get more wrinkles.

            I've used this process on numerous skirts (taught it as a fun "Cook your own skirt" sewing class.  I've done it on polyester lace dresses to get a nice wrinkled look and on poly/cottons for a worn look.  As I mentioned, I also did it on my daughter's grad dress. 

            One important thing to keep in mind is that it does make the garment seem smaller as it is almost like adding elastic.   Depending on the fabric, it may also make it feel a little stiffer, but drapey fabrics work really well. 

            Depending on the style and fabric of the bias dress, wrinkling it could resolve the "too big" issue and give it an interesting look!

            Just remember that wrinkling in the microwave is permanent and doesn't wash out like cotton or rayon.

            Also, this is great for vacation wear.  Just twist up your garment and throw it in your bag.  Wash when it's dirty and it's drip dry in no time.

            I've never attached a picture before but I'll see if I can get my daughter's grad dress on.       

          5. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #13

            She designed it, I sewed it.  It's three layers of polyester gauze each cut and sewn in a slight A shape.  Then I randomly slashed the fabric from the hem up and inserted godets of either more gauze or chiffon.  Then each layer was cooked in the microwave.  Then they were attached at the top and sewn to a waist length corset I made for under the dress.  This kept the dress up very well!  Then, while she was in the dress, I chopped the hem off in layers and tapered it up in the front to look like a slit.  No hemming, just chopped!!  The "sleeves" were the same idea, same fabric with chiffon godets and just elastic at the top.  Then I added the ties and the braid.  The most fantastic thing about this dress was the way it flowed when she walked, as it was very full in the bottom and the light airy fabric in the layers floated behind her.  She did her eyes up Ancient Egyptian style with little curly kews (which don't show up in the picture) and, of course, wore her army boots with it!! (KIDS!!)  

          6. Cherrypops | | #14

            Beautiful daughter, beautiful dress and a beautiful seamstress.

            Well done on getting the picture up to share with us. It was worth a look. I love it, army boots and all...!

          7. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #15

            Thanks!!  It was fun, too!!  (And I learned something I hadn't learned before - it is possible to melt the fabric in the microwave - making sure it's wet is important!)

          8. Cherrypops | | #16

            Yes i read that, might give it a go. interesting idea. if i don't blow up the house you'll be seeing me again soon.

          9. MaryinColorado | | #21

            Is she going to be a designer?  This puts anything on Project Runway to shame!  Have you entered it in any constests? 

            What a wonderful memory the two of you have of creating this work of art, a true heirloom!  I am in awe! 

            I laughed at the army boots!  She is her own person and not afraid to express her personal style.  Good for her!!!   Mary

          10. Teaf5 | | #18

            Thanks for the instructions AND the warnings! Spring break starts tomorrow, and now I have a completely new experiment to play with...

            This may also require a trip to the fabric store for some 100% polyester because I often use natural and rayon fabrics and blends and can't be completely sure about the content of my scraps because I don't have those wonderful, organized records that other posters have!

          11. MaryinColorado | | #20

            Your daughter looks like a grecian goddess!  What a beautiful girl in an exceptional gown.  Your work is exquisite!

            Thank You for the instructions!  Did you use a pattern?  I think that is one of the prettiest, most unique gowns I have ever seen!  Mary

          12. nmog | | #17

            Crinkling in the microwave sounds like a hoot! Fortunately, I think that the hint about steaming the bias pieces rather than letting them hang had helped loads! I gained about 4 inches in length on each piece, and now the dress (while not perfect) hangs much much better. I think I see the light at the end of this tunnel.While grumbling in my sewing room about this project I found some other fabric that I thought might work for the same pattern. Now I might just cut it too big and try the crinking.Thank you everyone for all of the help. I really appreciate it!

    2. nmog | | #6

      Thanks for the idea about using steam. I'll try that and see if anything can be selvedged. I should have clarified; the 6 inches extra is around my bust when trying on the garment with sleeves. The fabric seems to be stretching, just not enough! I used the correct fabric type, but I'm wonering if I just got a strange piece of fabric - it wouldn't be the first time! I also cut the size that I normally take in Simplicity patterns. The mystery continues....Thanks again.

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