a little bias tape

next up on my sewing table is an outfit for my 7 yr old. i was ordering some inexpensive clearance fabrics for a few summer dresses and i picked up this cute little cotton print.

it’s one of those fancy organic cotton fabrics. i was kinda hoping to be terribly unimpressed by it because it’s more expensive per yard than what i usually buy… but it was just so gosh darned cute. as luck would have it, the fabric is adorable and super soft. grrr… i hate it when i like expensive things… i only bought a yard because i was planning to make a skirt but i’ve managed to eeek out a little shift dress instead. i’m calling it the “go-go pick a daisy” dress. aren’t i clever?

i was too cheap to go buy a pattern, so i frankensteined (yes, it’s a word… maybe) together a few pattern pieces in my stash, graded them to be the right size, traced, re-traced, tissue-fitted… i think i pulled this one off. it’s supposed to look something like this.

aside from the super cute print, what will really pull this dress together is the finishing. now, usually i’m too lazy or just too caught up in the sewing to think about trims and bias tape and lace and whatnot. but, i’m working on my embellishment skills and i thought this dress would be adorable with a few bias tape details. i am adding flat piping at the waistband seams and bias trim around the pockets, armholes and neckline.

first up, flat piping… i started out by making several yards of bias tape. if you’ve never worked with bias tape before i suggest taking the easy way out and buying it pre-made. my own tape isn’t perfectly even so to make sure it turns out as even as possible  pin single folded bias tape (if you have double folded bias tape just press it flat so it is only folded once) to the waistband and measure up to the folded edge to keep it straight. then, machine baste it in place.

make sure the raw edge of the bias tape is toward the raw edge of the waistband

once the tape is in place continue as usual, sewing the waistband to the bodice then to the skirt. once sewn press the seams in toward the waistband and let the piping turn up toward the bodice and down toward the skirt. that’s it! if you measure first (and can sew reasonably straight…) this is a super easy embellishment to do.

to make sure the piping stays flat and going the right
direction, top stitch close to the edge of the waistband

the bias-bound edges are slightly trickier. now, i hear there are fabulous presser feet that fold and bind the tape as you sew. i don’t have this fancy little contraption so i have to attach it in steps.

first, make sure the seam allowances are removed from the edge being bound. then i find it easiest to attach the bias tape first by hand. with the edges lined up, use a running stitch to baste the bias tape along the edge, stitching slightly in from the crease of the tape. if you are working with a fairly straight edge you can do this with the sewing machine, but around small armholes i feel doing it by hand gives me greater control.

once you have gone all the way around, fold the bias tape (i told you i was using double folded tape, right?) around the edge and pin it in place. then, simply machine stitch close to the inner edge of the tape (on the outside of the garment). this should catch the tape you just folded to the inside of the garment. if for some reason your stitching falls off this inside edge, just hand stitch it in place later. it happens, no biggie.

stitching right along the inner edge on the bias tape

i also did this earlier on the skirt pockets before attaching the waistband to the skirt, by the way.

i think the edges finished this way are just adorable plus it emphasizes all the seam lines that would have gotten lost in the fabric print. i want to insert the zipper before i bind the neckline edge, then all i have left to do is the hem! now, don’t save the bias tape for the kidswear only, that’s just what i happened to be working on at the moment. it’s great for a pencil skirt or really any time you want to add a little definition to your work.

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