Bias Binding Tips for Smooth Installation

The Hana Tank + Dress Pattern features the bias binding method of finishing the neckline and armholes. While this method is a great scrap buster, the first few times you try it might be frustrating. It takes practice and a little patience to make sure all those seams lay flat with no puckering.

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Well, today I am here to help! During the testing phase for the Hana pattern, a few of my testers had great feedback for getting a beautiful finish with bias tape binding.

If you’re still not into it, check out this tutorial for making a facing instead!

First things first:

You actually don’t have to make your own bias tape at all.

Many fabric stores keep it in stock and you can also find a wide array of pre-made (and quite beautiful) bias tapes online. Etsy is a great resource for this! You’ll need about 3 yards for the Hana pattern. Just make sure you bias tape is similar in weight and behavior to your main project fabric.

But making it yourself is pretty easy and fun once you get the hang of it!

Making bias tape is a great way to bust some scraps! Whether you are trying to squeeze a lot out of your project fabric, or want to make a contrasting bias tape, you can piece together multiple smaller strips of fabric pretty easily to make good use of some of those otherwise unusable scraps you have laying around.

The Hana pattern has a pattern piece for cutting bias tape, but you don’t have to cut your sections that long at all. With piecing, you can connect multiple, much smaller pieces together pretty easily!

In this post I’ll lay it out step-by-step (with LOTS of photos!)…

STEP 1: Cut fabric strips on the bias

Cutting “on the bias” just means cutting it at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric. If you have small pieces of fabric, you can make quick work of laying them out on a cutting mat and cutting them down with a straight edge and a rotary cutter.

For larger pieces of fabric, lay it out flat, then fold up one corner to make a 45 degree fold (as if you are folding a perfect square on the diagonal). Then rotate the folded fabric so that the folded edge is parallel to your cutting mat rulers. Using your straight edge and rotary cutter, cut perpendicular (90 degrees) to the folded edge to create your strips.

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STEP 2: Piece short strips together at ends if you need longer strips

Lay one piece right side up with the end straight up and down. Then lay the end of the next piece on top of the first piece so right sides are facing. Sew the ends together at a diagonal.

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Unfold the strip and press the seam open to create one continuous, straight piece. Trim the seam at the sides for a neat edge.

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STEP 3: Stretch the bias tape!

Yep, you stretch it. I never knew this until this pattern test, but it actually works really well to pre-stretch the tape. Who knew!?

Using lots of heat and steam, begin ironing the strip of fabric while pulling it away from your iron as you go. You’ll notice that your tape will become more narrow with the stretching. You can do a test piece when cutting to make sure the stretched width is appropriate for your project. Wait for the fabric to cool before moving it.

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STEP 4: Fold the edges

If you’ve ever been turned off at the thought of making your own bias tape, I’m about to change your mind: Get yourself a bias tape maker! This little inexpensive tool makes bias tape-making a total breeze (and it’s actually quite satisfying).

If you don’t have one, you can still make bias tape. You’ll just have to manually fold and press the edges in, which takes a little longer but works just fine, too.

With your fabric strip and bias tape maker face down, thread one end through the large end of the bias tape maker channel (you may need to use a pin or the tip of your seam ripper to help it through). It will come out the other end with the two edges folded up. Only pull it through about an inch and press the end to hold the folds.

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Flip everything over so the the folds are now face down and the bias tape maker is right side up. Continue pressing the folded tape and gently pulling the bias tape maker to the left. Keep the tip of your iron close to the tool as you pull. Continue until you’ve pulled the entire strip through the tool. Voila! Satisfying, right?

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STEP 5: Pre-curve your bias tape

Some prefer to do this step prior to folding the tape, but I like doing it after to keep the edge folds consistent. Either way, curving the bias tape is possibly the most crucial step in getting a nice finish (learned this from Jenn of @msjennmakes, who taught me a lot on this subject during testing!).

Once again, using a fair amount of heat and steam, press the tape as you pull it in a curved direction. I like to compare my curves to the curve of the armholes and neckline periodically to make sure I am getting enough curve in there!

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Let it cool before moving it.

STEP 6: Attach the bias tape to the armholes

For the armholes, pin the bias tape in place about 1” from the side seam at the bottom, with about 1” to 2” of extra bias tape extending past the seam. You also want to make sure you are maintaining the correct seam allowance (I made a 1/2” bias tape with 1/4” folds. My armhole and neckline seam allowance is 3/8” so I offset the edge of the tape roughly 1/8” from the raw edge of the armhole here). You’ll use the fold of the bias tape as a guide for your seam.

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You can pin this in place if you like, but I like to sew with out pins, positioning the bias tape as I go. As you do this, remember to “observe the curve” (sage wisdom form another tester, Olivia of @shaftedpin). Try to go slowly and rotate the curves under the needle without stretching the fabric or bias tape as you go. Sew the bias tape around the perimeter, using the bias tape fold as a seam allowance guide. Stop about 1” from your starting point.

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Trim your bias tape, again with about 1 to 2” overlapping the side seam at the bottom of the armhole. Fold each of the raw ends backward, with their folds touching each other. Then, use the folds as a seam guide. Pin the ends together and sew them together along the fold lines.

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Flatten the folds and sew the rest of the bias tape to the armhole, closing the gap.

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STEP 7: Understitch the bias tape to the armhole

Press the bias tape up/away from the armhole to lay on top of the seam allowance (you can also trim the seam allowance back if you have little strings poking out). Understitch the bias tape to the seam allowance around the entire perimeter, keeping your stitch very close to the seam.

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STEP 8: Finish the bias tape with topstitching

Press the bias tape to the interior, keeping the edge neatly folded under. Topstitch the bias tape in place around the perimeter of the armhole, keeping the stitch close to the edge. I find this is easier to do from the wrong side of the garment. And remember to “observe the curve” by guiding the armhole under the needle in a curved motion without stretching the fabric.

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Armhole: Done! Repeat for the opposite side.

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STEP 9: Install bias tape to neckline

Use the same techniques to install the neckline binding, this time starting at the point of the v-neck (the pattern includes a mark point to indicate the start and stop location). Leave approximately 1” to 2” of bias tape past that point. Sew all the way around the perimeter of the neckline.

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When you reach the starting point at the point of the v-neck, fold the edge of the bias tape in where you started. Then overlap the end of the bias tape over it, and continuing sewing until you reach the exact point where you started. This should be right at the edge of the bias fold underneath.

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Clip the v-neck point to make it easier to turn the bias tape to the interior.

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STEP 10: Understitch the bias tape to the neckline

Press the bias tape up/away from the neckline to lay on top of the seam allowance. Understitch the bias tape to the seam allowance around the entire perimeter, keeping your stitch very close to the seam. Be careful not to sew over the overlapping ends at the v-neck point.

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STEP 11: Finish the neckline with topstitching

Just as you did at the armholes, press the bias tape to the interior and topstitch to secure. When you reach the point of the v-neck, overlap the bias tape and fold one end over the other and press for a neat finish (I like to pin this fold in place to secure it while I topstitch the neckline).

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Finished!

Give your Hana a good pressing and admire your work!

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MORE FROM PATTERN SCOUT:

How to Make an All-In-One Facing for the Hana Tank + Dress

The Hana Tank + Dress Pattern features the bias binding method of finishing the neckline and armholes. A few testers noted that they would like the option to finish the Hana with a facing instead. Cass, one of the Hana testers and the sewist behind @craftyprofessor on Instagram, has created a tutorial for drafting and sewing an all-in-one facing for Hana.

Take it away, Cass!


I’m going to walk you through how to make an all-in-one facing for your Hana tank or dress using the Burrito Method.

Hana Dress, Version A

Hana Dress, Version A

Hana Dress, Version A back

Hana Dress, Version A back

Hana Tank, Version C

Hana Tank, Version C

Hana Tank, Version C facing

Hana Tank, Version C facing

STEP 1: Draft facing pattern pieces

To draft facing pieces, simply trace your pattern pieces onto extra paper – my facing pieces are blue.  The facing in the front will need to end above the bust dart, so make a mark just below the bust dart (after hemming it will be above it) and draw a straight line to the center front.  For button placket versions, the center front facing will end about half way between the fold line and the first notch. For View A, you will want to curve the line up a bit in the center so that the facing hem is not right at your bust point (You can do this for all versions if you want). For View A, just make your facing to the fold line and then cut it on the fold.  

 
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Make sure that the back facing piece is the same length as the front piece under the armpit, as this is where the front and back pieces meet.  I have shown an alternative cut line for the back facing, but in my examples below I have used a straight line.

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STEP 2: Cut facing fabric

Cut facing pieces instead of bias binding and make sure to also stay stitch the arm lines.

STEP 3: Prepare bodice for facing

Stay-stitch the bodice neckline and armholes, then prepare the placket (if sewing Versions B or C) and sew the bust darts as shown in steps 1-3 in the Hana Tank + Dress Pattern instructions.

STEP 4: Sew shoulder seams

Sew shoulder seams together for both the main bodice fabric pieces and the facings and finish with your desired method. Do not sew the the side seams yet.

STEP 5: Hem facings

Hem or finish the bottom edge of facings using your desired method. 

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STEP 6: Prepare the placket for facings (Versions B + C only)

For versions with the button placket, proceed with pattern instructions in step 5 (fold back and baste the placket). 

STEP 7: Attach facing to bodice pieces at neckline (all versions)

Next, lay the main pieces flat, with the right side up and put facing on top of it, right sides together.  Pin around neckline matching up shoulder seams.

For versions with the button placket, the facing should be about ¼ inch short of the fold in the front 

Facing for Versions B + C, Facing is split in the front.

Facing for Versions B + C, Facing is split in the front.

Closeup of facing for Versions B + C, pinned in place.

Closeup of facing for Versions B + C, pinned in place.

Facing for Version A, continuous in front and back.

Facing for Version A, continuous in front and back.

Sew around the entire neckline with 3/8 in seam allowance. For versions with the button placket make sure to start sewing at the edge of the fold of the placket and sew beyond the facing all the way to the edge of the other placket fold.

Clip the curves (all versions) and the point of the v-neck (Version A only) without clipping the stitch line. Press the seam allowance towards facing.

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STEP 8: Understitch the facing

Understitch the seam allowance to the facing very close to the seam along the neckline.  Make sure to sew through 3 layers – the two layers of the seam allowance and the facing.  I like to sew from the right side of the facing, but I will demonstrate from the wrong side so you can see where the stitching is going.   

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This is what it looks like after it is understitched. You should be able to see a line of stitching on the facing very close to the neckline.  This will help your neckline stay turned under nicely and the stitching will be concealed on the interior of the finished garment for a clean finish on the exterior. 

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Press facing to inside, and for versions with the button placket, flip front placket back to right side

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STEP 9: Sew the Armsyces – The ‘Burrito Method’ (all versions)

I will be using the ‘burrito method’ to attach the facing and main fabrics together at the arm holes. This video shows the method in action! Photos and written instructions continue below.

Video created by Cass Hausserman of @craftyprofessor


First, with the right side of the facing up, roll one side of the top over to the other side

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Next, you are going to match up the facing to the main fabric, but you have to make sure you have the right sides together.  To do this, reach under the top and pull the main around the burrito to match it up with the facing. Pin the facing to the main bodice long the armscye curve only. Sew just the curve of the armhole with the 3/8 in seam allowance.

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Clip the curves, and then pull the top through the shoulder.   

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Pulling the facing and bodice through “burrito” to right side (shown here on the Version A dress)

Pulling the facing and bodice through “burrito” to right side (shown here on the Version A dress)

Repeat this for the other side.

Now the facing is attached to the main fabric.  

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STEP 10: Press the armhole seams

Press the seams making sure to open them up as much as possible with your fingers as you’re pressing.  

STEP 11: Understitch the facing at the armholes

Next, understitch the facing to the armhole seam allowance as far as possible.  For this, you will be stitching the two layers from the seam allowance and the facing together very close to the armhole seam you sewed during the last step.  This top has a nice wide shoulder strap, so I was able to get almost all the way up to the shoulder seam in the back!

Underside of understitching shown on Version A dress

Underside of understitching shown on Version A dress

Finished understitching on right side of facing. You can see it is very close to the edge of the armhole.

Finished understitching on right side of facing. You can see it is very close to the edge of the armhole.

STEP 12: Sew side seams

Pull the front and back facing pieces out and away from the main bodice. Line up the armhole seams and pin the side seam of the front and back bodice and facing pieces together. The side seam of the facing and the main bodice pieces will be sewn in one step. 

Line up side seams (Version A dress)

Line up side seams (Version A dress)

Line up side seams (Version C tank)

Line up side seams (Version C tank)

Finish the side seam with your preferred method and press open or to the back.  Since the facing is only a couple of inches from the armpit opening, it is important to tack it down so that it doesn’t flip out.  You can make this nearly invisible by stitching a few stitches “in the ditch” of the main bodice side seam.

Facing is pinned to side seam and tacked to the main bodice. Tacking stitches are sewn “in the ditch”, meaning they are concealed in the exterior side seam.

Facing is pinned to side seam and tacked to the main bodice. Tacking stitches are sewn “in the ditch”, meaning they are concealed in the exterior side seam.

STEP 13: Proceed to the pattern for the remaining instructions

For versions with the button placket, proceed to the pattern instructions step 8 to topstitch the placket in place, then proceed with step 10 and 11 as indicated in the pattern.



And that’s it! Thank you so much, Cass, for sharing this technique!

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ABOUT CASS HAUSSERMAN

Hi!  I’m Cass, or CraftyProfessor (on Instagram).  I have always been crafty and have been sewing rectangular things and altering t-shirts for as long as I can remember, but I had never used a pattern.  About 2 years ago my VERY basic sewing machine died, and I decided to upgrade. I also had a 6 month old baby, and figured that I would try making him some leggings using a pattern for the first time, now that I had this nice new sewing machine.  About a year ago I started sewing for myself and my husband, and now I can’t get enough! I am somewhat fearless when it comes to trying new things and know that the Internet is such an amazing resource for what I don’t know. I work full time as an accounting professor, but I try to sneak in some sewing almost every day!  

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Fern Top Expansion Pack + Alternative Neckline Finishes

As I was designing the Fern Top, I saw so many possibilities for customizing this blouse with a few really simple hacks. Today I am sharing a few of those hacks AND introducing an expansion pack for additional neckline options!

The Fern Top Neckline Expansion pack includes new pattern pieces for creating a V-Neck or Square Neck style blouse. When I found myself hacking my own pattern into these styles, I knew I needed to add them as an option!

The original Fern pattern and expansion pack includes facings for each neckline, but during testing, some testers mentioned that they prefer to do a bias bound neckline finish. Today I will show you how to do that! I’ll also show you how I finished the neckline of the Square Neck version with a lining instead of a facing, which was perfect for the eyelet fabric I used.

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First up: a V-Neck Fern with bias-bound neckline:

For this version, you’ll assemble the pattern per the instructions, but instead of attaching the facing, you’ll attach bias tape. You can buy pre-made bias tape at your fabric store, or you can make your own. I decided to make my own with a bias tape maker (I purchased this one at Joann…and it’s my new favorite tool!).

1. Cut strips of fabric on the bias.

1. Cut strips of fabric on the bias.

2. Pull end of strip through bias tape tool with about 1” sticking out to get it started.

2. Pull end of strip through bias tape tool with about 1” sticking out to get it started.

3. Iron the end to get it started.

3. Iron the end to get it started.

4. Then flip it over to slowly iron on the “right” side while you gently pull the bias tape maker away from the iron.

4. Then flip it over to slowly iron on the “right” side while you gently pull the bias tape maker away from the iron.

Voila! Bias tape!

Voila! Bias tape!

Next, I carefully pinned the bias tape edge, right sides together, to the perimeter of the neckline. You want to get the fold along one side to line up with the seam line (You can see here that my bias tape fold was actually a little too narrow, but I just tried to maintain the seam allowance by pinning it about 1/4” from the raw edge of the neckline).

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I sewed the bias tape to the entire perimeter of the neckline, overlapping the ends at the point of the V-Neck. Then I clipped the interior corner of the V-neck (without clipping the seam), to make turning easier.

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Next, I turned the shirt inside out and folded the bias tape to the interior to press, making sure the fold on the other side of the tape was pressed under for a clean finish. Once it was all pressed in place, I clipped one of the raw ends so that it would be concealed under the other end of the bias tape. Then I folded the other end under and pressed for a clean finish.

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Last, I pressed the neckline on the right side to make sure there were no wrinkles at the V-corner, and secured the bias tape by sewing around the perimeter of the neckline (I sewed this from the wrong side to make sure my seam stayed on the bias tape).

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Next up: Lining the Front Center panel of the Fern Top

Another option for finishing the neckline of the Fern Top without a facing is to line the Center Front and Center Back pattern pieces. This is a great option for shear or eyelet fabrics to provide a little modesty without compromising and easy-breezy fabric!

If you go this route, you’ll want to cut two each of the Center Front and Center Back (one of the main fabric, and one of the lining fabric for each piece). I used an eyelet for this Square Neck version, and a lightweight rayon lawn for the lining which worked out really nicely! Also, my apologies for photographing white fabric on a WHITE background…seemed like a good idea at the time! Idunno why!

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We’re going to do things a bit out of sequence from the pattern instructions so we’ll have a nice-n-clean neckline finish! Start by sewing the shoulder seams together (right sides facing) of the Center Front and Center back of the main fabric and lining, separately:

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Then pin the lining to the main pieces, right sides together, lining up the shoulder seams and neckline, and sew the perimeter of the neck opening:

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Clip into the seam allowance at the corners and the curved areas to make turning easier. You’ll also want to trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4” (not shown). Turn everything right side out and press. Then understitch the lining to the seam allowance on the interior and press again.

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Baste the two layers together around the outer edges, just inside the seam allowance, to hold everything in place. Now we can add the sleeves!

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Sew the shoulder seams of the sleeves (right sides together) and finish the seams to your preference. Then attach the sleeves to the Center Front/Back, right sides together, lining up the shoulder seams and edges. Finish the seams with your preferred method.

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Turn the sleeves right side out and press! You can continue the blouse construction per the pattern instructions!

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Finishing touches!

When you are finished, your blouse(s) will look something like this! I added a ruffle sleeve to the V-neck version for a little extra PIZZAZZ! See below for how I did that!

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How to add a ruffle sleeve

Once you have constructed your blouse, instead of hemming or adding the sleeve cuff included in the pattern, you will cut a strip of fabric that is about 5 inches longer than the Sleeve Cuff Pattern Piece length (if you want a more dramatic ruffle, make your piece longer). I made the width roughly 3 inches wide.

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Sew a loose basting stitch along one edge and leave a thread tail that is a few inches long so it’s easy to pull. Pull the thread tail to gather the edge and create a ruffle. (also, I forgot to do this, but it is a good idea to finish the short edges of the strip before doing this step, especially if serging.)

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Right sides together, align the gathered edge of the strip with the raw sleeve edge and distribute the gathers to make the ruffle fit on the sleeve edge. Pin in place and baste the ruffle to the sleeve to ensure a clean join before sewing and finishing the seam to your preference. Flip the ruffle to the right side and press the seam toward the body of the blouse.

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Hem the ruffle by folding the raw edge to the wrong side twice by approximately 1/4” each time. Press and topstich the hem in place.

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And that’s it! Have fun flauntin’ your flounce!

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