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A bias cut garment is cut “on the bias,” which essentially means diagonally. Clothing that is made out of striped material so that the stripes come together in a “V”, whether right side up or upside down, are cut on the bias. Some nightgowns and dresses are also made in this way.
Because they are cut diagonally, bias cut garments have a very different look from ordinary garments, even when the same basic pattern or shape is used. The tend to cling to a woman’s curves more than clothing that is cut normally, which gives dresses and nightgowns cut in this way a reputation of being sexier than traditionally cut garments. Many women love the delicate, graceful flow of a finely made bias cut skirt or dress.
Because of the diagonal fall of the fabric, bias cut garments are more difficult to sew than normal garments. If the garment is not made a certain way, the seams and hems can bunch and twist, instead of lying smoothly against the wearer’s body. Following a few simple tips will ensure that your garment looks the way it is supposed to.
The most important part of sewing a bias cut garment is to keep in mind that the fabric will stretch differently than fabric that is cut the normal way. Some seamstresses recommend that you tack the garment together and let it hang for a day or two before finalizing the seams. This allows the material to stretch naturally and helps smooth your seams. Always try the garment on before sewing the seams, as this will allow you to make sure that it fits the way you want it to.
When stitching seams on your garment, be sure to go slowly and allow the fabric to take its natural shape, rather than pulling it taut as you pull it through the sewing machine. It is best to stitch the seams in short bursts, allowing the fabric to relax and take its natural shape each time before continuing. Likewise, once the seams are stitched, allow the garment to hang for a while before you hem the bottom or the sleeves. This will allow the garment to develop a natural fall and ensure that the hems are straight and smooth. When ironing the hem, do not move the iron side to side along the hem as you would with a normal cut garment; instead, move the iron along the line of the bias.
Another trick is to hang the bias cut garment on a dress form instead of a hanger. A dress form will allow the garment to stretch and fall as it would while on your body — a shape that hanging straight up and down from a hanger will simply not encourage. It may also be helpful to remember that a bias cut garment generally requires more fabric than a normal cut garment, since the pattern must be turned diagonally on the fabric. Although the fabric scraps may seem like a waste, once you see and feel the beauty of your bias cut garment, you will be sure to find it worth the extra expense and work!