Sewing your own clothes can be a little intimidating. Spoonflower friend and fashion designer Jamie Lau visits the blog today to share a step-by-step guide to making and sewing bias tape! Follow along as she explains a simple way to give your handmade garments a professional finished edge.
With summer upon us, I chose to work with Spoonflower’s new lightweight Cotton Lawn Ultra fabric for my latest design.
One of my top-selling dresses is a relaxed fit ikat midi dress with short kimono sleeves. I wanted to create a new style in the same silhouette using my Striped Blue Gradient print, as featured in these linen-cotton canvas shorts.
For this tutorial, I will highlight one of the garment construction techniques featured in this project – how to make and sew bias tape using the piecing method. Prior to sewing, I prewashed the fabric in cool water followed by a line-dry. The fabric held up well and did not wrinkle much.
- 3 yards Cotton Lawn Ultra
- Coordinating polyester thread
- Omnigrid 6” x 24” quilter’s ruler
- Water soluble fabric pen or fabric chalk
- Fabric scissors
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing machine
- Serger or overlock sewing machine (Optional)
Step 1: Use soft measuring tape to measure around the neckline to determine how much length you’ll need plus ½” seam allowance on each end. (Follow the same steps if you are sewing bias tape around the armholes of a garment and measure around the armhole.) Find the bias on your fabric by placing the 45-degree angle from your clear gridded quilting ruler on the selvage of the fabric and mark. Draw a parallel line 1 ¼” from the first line.
Continue to measure and mark equal distances until you have enough length for your neckline. Square off the ends so that each strip is a rectangle. Cut out each bias strip.
Step 2: Place two of the bias strips together at a 90-degree angle, right sides together, lining up the raw edges. Sew across diagonally to connect. Continue sewing more bias strips together in the same direction until you reach your desired length.
Step 3: Next, sew the ends of the bias tape together at a ½” seam allowance, right sides together. Pin the bias tape around the neckline, right sides together, lining up the raw edges. Sew together at a ⅜” seam allowance, removing the pins as you go.
Step 4: Next, understitch the seam allowances to the bias tape. This is a technique that will help the neckline lay flat and allow the bias tape to roll neatly to the inside of the garment. To do this, first press the seam allowances away from the self fabric and toward the bias tape.
Understitch the seam allowances to the bias tape by sewing between 1/16” to 1/8” away from the seam line. Press using a seam roll.
Step 5: Fold the raw edge of the bias tape toward the wrong side of the garment to meet the 3/8” seam line. Press along the fold and pin if necessary.
Fold over once more so that the bias tape is now approximately 3/8” wide, with the raw edges tucked underneath, and pin in place. Sew around the neckline – through all layers of bias tape and fabric – between 1/16” to 1/8” away from the edge, removing the pins as you go. Press using a seam roll.
We’re often left with fabric scraps after cutting out our pattern pieces. Creating bias tape using the piecing method is a great way to make use of these odd-shaped remnants. I chose to play with contrasting stripes for a more flattering look, cutting the bodice on the straight grain and allowing the stripes to run vertically on the skirt.
About Our Guest Author
Jamie Lau is a designer, sewing instructor, and fashion writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She received a sewing machine for her twenty-fifth birthday and hasn’t put it down since. For her line Jamie Lau Designs, Jamie transforms simple silhouettes into fashion-forward frocks sewn from Japanese prints, luxurious brocades, ikats, and her soon-to-be own original textile designs. In addition to doing custom work (including bridal), she teaches sewing, draping, and patternmaking courses at Textile Arts Center and across the country. Follow her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages for the latest updates and inspirations.