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Bias Facing Your Necklines And Armholes

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.

Single fold bias binding to be used for my binding facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

Although there are two ‘actual’ folds in the bias tape, we still call this ‘single fold.’

Single fold bias binding to be used for my binding facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Sewing the first stitch line of the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Sewing the first stitch line of the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Sewing the first stitch line of the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Creating the join in the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

Then fold the starting excess over, wrong side to wrong side as in the photo below.

Creating the join in the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

Release the first by removing the pin and allow it to lay flat over the fold – see photo below.

Creating the join in the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

Finally, push the binding you started with up and over the end point and pin together.

Creating the join in the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Edge stitching the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

You will sew this under stitching about 2 mm away from the seam you created in step 2.

Edge stitching the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Edge stitching the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Before clipping of the bias facing on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Clipping of the bias facing allowance on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet
Clipping of the bias facing allowance on the York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Topstitched bias facing on the neckline of myYork Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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!

Topstitched bias facing on the neckline of myYork Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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.

Topstitched bias facing on the armhole of my York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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! 😉

Topstitched bias facing on the armhole of my York Pinafore dress from Helen's Closet

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Dale

Saturday 5th of June 2021

I still have some slight creasing after folding under the bias, and see that you have that also. I had thought about clipping the fabric before sewing, as one of your commenters mentioned. Don’t know how to eliminate this issue. Any thoughts?

Lauri Noel

Sunday 29th of November 2020

I have a 100% polyester crepe fabric needing a armhole facing. I tried 100% cotton bias tape and then cut my own bias tape from the crepe fabric., but I need more stretch. any suggestions?

MC

Friday 18th of October 2019

Have you considered clipping the seam allowance before doing the understitching? I've always done it this way and believe that it allows the curve to lie just a little bit flatter. Your thoughts?