Your bias is showing

I was telling someone at the American Sewing Expo that, because I’m self-taught, I still make pretty newbie mistakes despite having sewed for 13 years.

*pause to feel old*

One of these mistakes is not accounting for bias when sewing circle skirts, which I seem to do a lot these days. (Did I share a picture of my Spudgy poodle skirt?) What can I say? They’re swishy and swirly and other things that start with s and end with y.

Anyhow, bias. If fabric consists of warp and weft threads, one set running horizontal and one running vertical, like on a loom, then the bias is the diagonal line running at about a 45 degree angle across the fabric:

Image from

The bias is slightly stretchy because the weight of the fabric isn’t pulling directly along a warp or weft thread. Bias tape (you know, this stuff?) is made by cutting strips of fabric along the bias, rather than straight along the edge of the fabric. This gives it just enough stretch that it can do things like form curves. (Check out whip-stitch’s intro to the bias and bias tape, whence the previous image.) This is why it’s also important to make sure your pattern pieces follow the selvage properly — if you cut them out at the wrong angle, you may end up with unintended stretch.

The point of this is that circle skirts are kind of a bias nightmare, because if you’re cutting out big half-circles, you’re going to end up with parts of your skirt falling along the bias:

Image from I just love that there’s a website called International Pleating.

Let a circle skirt hang long enough, and, at least with some types of fabric, the parts along the bias will stretch enough that your skirt is uneven:

You can see in the image how the skirt falls unevenly. It can actually make a nice aesthetic, as in the case of that dress, but other times it just looks sloppy or unprofessional. And if your skirt is floor-length and weighs enough, you will end up tripping over parts of it when you thought it was measured and hemmed properly.

You know, like if you make a Jedi librarian skirt out of 6 yards of really heavy linen and then give it 9 months to stretch out while you work on the rest of the outfit?


Bring on the seam ripper!!!


One thought on “Your bias is showing

  1. Aha! This is so timely, having just dealt with this issue with the Ren Faire costumes (blog post on that to come) for the girls. I have two 6-yard cloaks sitting upstairs now too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s