In previous tutorials we’ve covered bias binding as a way to finish edges by wrapping the edge of your fabric hems with binding in a way that adds an extra design touch to your garments.
Another way to use bias binding is as a bias facing.
This means that, instead of visibly binding the edges of fabric, once sewn in place you turn the bias binding to the wrong side and it acts as a ‘facing’ whilst also finishing the raw edge of your fabric. It makes itself mostly invisible from the right side, though you can sometimes see glimpses of this binding.
Making Your Own Bias Binding
Learning to make your own bias binding allows for some unique creations, as fabric options are endless. You could sew a beautiful sleeveless chambray shirt and finish the armholes with a pale pink striped cotton.
That said, you can also apply the bias binding to the wrong side of the garment and when turned through to the right side, the bias facing becomes visible, and leaves nothing unfinished on the inside of the neckline or armhole area.
Are you getting excited about bias facings yet?
Where Is Bias Facing Used?
Common locations for bias facing are armholes and necklines. If sewing a full neckline facing or armhole facing is a little intimidating, sewing a bias facing might be the better option for you. If you want to know how to finish a neckline without bias tape, check out my facings post!
Why Does The Bias Tape Have To Be Cut On the Bias?
You should cut tape for bias facing on the bias as it has more stretch than tape cut on the straight grain. That stretchiness will help you manoeuvre the tape around the curves of necklines and armholes more easily.
How To Sew Bias Tape As A Facing
I used this method to finish the neckline on my Helen’s Closet York Pinafore. That pattern has a super deep scoop for the neckline and although I played with the idea of bias binding, I decided to stay true to the pattern and sewed bias facing instead.
These instructions are for bias facing turned into the inside of the garment.
If you want the facing to be on the outside, you’ll want to start by sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the neckline.
Step 1: Choosing Bias Tape For The Bias Facing
Your first step is to select the bias tape most suitable. I’m using single fold bias tape for the neckline.
Although there are two ‘actual’ folds in the bias tape, we still call this ‘single fold.’
Step 2: Sewing The Bias Tape To The Neckline
I don’t use pins when sewing the bias tape to any curve. I find that it restricts my ability to manipulate the binding to where I want it to go.
Instead, I start about 1 cm in from the edge of my tape – which will allow me to finish the facing neatly later – and after a quick back stitch, I continue sewing along the fold line of my bias tape.
After you have sewn along the fold of your bias tape for the entire neckline, you will want to stop short of the first stitches that you made.
Be sure to fold the seam allowance at the start of your bias tape out of the way, so that it does not catch when you finish this stitch line.
Once complete, press the bias tape away from the garment so that the seam becomes visible. And if you haven’t already, trim the excess tape away, leaving around 1.5 cm overlap.
Step 3: Creating The Tape Fold
As there are now two ends extending beyond the start and finish stitch point, we need to tidy them up. I do this by folding back the end point so right sides are facing, and pinning in place.
Then fold the starting excess over, wrong side to wrong side as in the photo below.
Release the first by removing the pin and allow it to lay flat over the fold – see photo below.
Finally, push the binding you started with up and over the end point and pin together.
Step 4: Retain / Under Stitching The Bias Tape
To hold the bias tape in place, we need to retain stitch – also called under stitching – the tape to the seam allowance of the neckline.
You will sew this under stitching about 2 mm away from the seam you created in step 2.
When you draw near to where the ends of the tape meet, stitch over the starting stitches to secure. This will help hold the fold in place.
Step 5: Clipping The Seam Allowances
As I would turn the bias facing to cover the raw fabric edge, and then turn it under again, I worried that it would end up being too bulky with the neckline protruding out from the body rather than lying flat – not a good look.
Because of this, and other factors – such as the neckline of the York Pinafore dress being so deep, and the fabric I used so heavy – I decided it would be best to clip the seam allowances of both the facing and garment fabric.
Not everyone will tell you to clip the bias binding, but in this instance, I felt that it would be necessary to get that nice clean flat finish I was after.
Step 6: Stitching The Facing In Place
Now that you have clipped the allowances, it’s time to sew the final stitch line on your bias facing. Start by folding the bias binding over the raw clipped edge, then fold again so that everything is enclosed.
You can pin first to make sure that everything is laying flat, or you can do as I do, and stitch carefully from the right side. Make sure to maintain the same distance from the neckline edge.
If you do not want visible top stitching, you could also hand sew the facing in place.
Here is the right side of the super scooped neckline of my York Pinafore dress.
A close up of the inside of the neckline. Note all the bulk at the centre back. The multiple layers of bias tape and the flat felled seam bulk both caused this!
I applied the same technique to the not as deeply curved armhole, which came out much neater! I also didn’t clip the seam allowance or bias binding as the curve was not as extreme.
And the closer up detail shot too… Let’s not talk about the different thread colours. There are not as many supply options in Groningen as in London! 😉
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.