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Sewing bias seams

fabricator | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am about to embark on a bias skirt project, and upon researching “bias” in Threads I find two articles that seem to contradict one another.  The article “Getting Better on the Bias” in #67 says to feed the material under the presser foot by holding a little “hump” in front of it, so that it doesn’t stretch.  In the article “Bias 101” in #76, it recommends actually stretching the fabric as you sew vertical seams, and that the resulting pucker will disappear with pressing.  They also differ as far as layout for cutting.

What success have others had with these methods?


  1. HeartFire | | #1


    Follow this link, it should take you to a bias skirt construction by Charles Keibecker. They reccomend "AS YOU STITCH, ALWAYS STRETCH BIAS SEAMS THAT ARE BELOW THE BUST", but read how they have you baste the seam first,

    1. ShannonG4d | | #2

      That Kleibacker skirt class download is excellent!  I refer to it often (I downloaded it a few years ago).

      I think the differences of opinion are fine in this regard.  You have to find what will work best for your particular fabric, and for your particular garment.  In the Kleibacker skirt, a reasonably straight seam is being sewn, with straight stitches on the machine.  In that case, yes, I'd stretch the fabric, so it can relax when worn.

      In other articles, a more curved seam is being sewn (for instance, an a-line bias skirt, which has a bit of hip shape) from a different fabric.  A zigzag seam is recommended in some cases, and I find this to be the most consistent way to acheive professional results on the bias.  The zigzag stitch will move with the weight of the garment, and allow the fabric to hang without forcing it into shape.  If you're planning to launder your bias garment, I'd go for the zigzag stitch. 

      So....I'm thinking it's a case of needing to test your particular fabric, and seeing what the actual lines of the design include.  Something that is super-fitted will require different handling than something that is flowing and draped.  Softer fabrics will respond differently than firmer fabrics.  And there's always the final appearance you are after....so test your fabric with several methods, and see what works for your project.

      In any case, the recommendation to use wider seam allowances is excellent!  You'll want that extra bit for manipulation of the fabric; it doesn't seem like that small amount would make such a difference, but it does! 


      1. fabricator | | #3

        Thank you both for your help!  What a great article the Kleibacker construction course is!  I've bookmarked it for furture reference.  I'm trying to visualize "overlapping basting" as it describes, and can only think it must mean basting with a backstitch, although I'd think that might be too restrictive as far as the stretching process.  If someone is familiar with that type of basting, I would very much appreciate your input.

        As you recommend, I will test and see what works best and definitely plan to use the wider seam allowances.

        1. sewanista | | #4

          overlapping basting means to use short lengths of thread, with no knots or backstitching, and doing many short lenghts of running stitch that overlap each other. this holds it together but allows to fabric to strech if it needs to, unlike one long row of running stitch.

          1. fabricator | | #5

            That makes a lot more sense.  Thank you.

        2. HeartFire | | #6

          the overlap basting is where you sew a running stitch for about 6 inches, leave a thread tail at each end of 1 or 2 inches, start with a new length of thread about 1/2 inch from the end of the previous 6 inches of basting and baste a new 6 inch length. this way there is about 1/2 to 1 inch of overlap between the 2 lengths of thread.if it streches (on the bias) you not only have the thread tails for safety, but the overlap incase one thread pulls out a little,

          1. fabricator | | #7

            Thank you, Judy.  That makes it much clearer for me now.

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