How to Apply a Bias Facing to an Edge

In this article, you will learn how easy it is to apply a functional bias facing using single fold bias tape. You will also learn how to join the ends in the round.

I love, love, love the look of an edge finished with a bias facing! It’s so lean and clean looking. And just such a damn pretty finish to an edge.

And…

There’re probably 50 different ways to apply this hard-working bit of fabric to an edge. I kid you not. So always be on the lookout for new ways to play with bias tape.

Alright. Let’s start with the…

Rules for Applying Bias Tape

Rule #1: Staystitch your edges. Yes, you absolutely must! You should only skip this step if you want stretched out, gapey necklines and armholes!

Rule #2: If you’re applying bias tape as a functional facing to the wrong side (WS) of the garment, you should understitch.

Rule #3: When applying bias tape to an edge, SLOW. DOWN. You need to take your time if you’re to end up with a pretty finish!

Blue Jar of Patience

Rule #4: Use a spritz of water (or steam) as you press for a stunning finish!

Functional Bias Facing Defined

Functional bias facing is attached with its right side (RS) to the right side of the garment, pressed upwards, and then folded all the way to the WS of the garment.

In other words, it is “private” and will not be visible from the RS of the garment.

In this article you will learn how to apply a functional bias facing.

However, bias facing can also be applied in the reverse so that it is folded all the way to the RS of the garment. In other words, the bias facing is “public” and can be seen from the RS. It is not only functional but also a decorative detail.

Let’s make pretty edges…

How to Apply Single-Fold Bias Facing in the Round

Applying bias facing is really not difficult. But frankly, in the beginning, it can be a tiny bit fiddly until it isn’t.

However, with practice, patience, and this tutorial, you’ll surely be rewarded with a finished result that you love, love, love.

So are you ready to learn how to apply bias tape as a facing?!

Then, let’s do this…

Step 1: Prep the bias tape.

You can use premade bias tape or custom make your own.

For garment sewing, I love to make my own bias tape. Custom bias tape is so much easier to shape and mold around curves than its pre-made second cousin. And as a bonus: It is often prettier too!

You want the length of bias tape to be at least three inches longer than the edge to be finished. The extra inches will allow for shaping and finishing.

To measure, just place the bias tape loosely around the edge to be finished so that it is at least a few inches longer than the edge.

Next, lightly press open the fold of one of the long edges.

Bias Tape Long Edge Pressed Open - Stitching in Colour

Sew easy tip: If your fabric of choice is soft and wimpy, then starching custom bias tape and the edge to be finished will go a long way to making the application process easier.

Step 2: Prep the edge to be finished.

At the sewing machine, the first step of garment construction is always staystitching.

Please staystitch ⅛ inch from the seam line inside the seam allowance (SA).

When sewing with commercial sewing patterns, the SA is typically ⅝ inch. This means that your line of staystitching needs to be a ½ inch from the raw edge. 

Neckline Staystitched - Stitching in Colour

In the image above, I staystitched ⅛ inch from the seam line. The seam line is the blue dashed lines you see in the image above.

Once I’ve staystitched the edge to be finished, I go ahead and trim off ⅜ inch of the SA. This will leave a new SA width of just ¼ inch — you will see why soon.

Neckline Seam Allowance Trimmed to 1/4 Inch - Stitching in Colour

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to read an imperial ruler.

Step 3: Sew the shoulder or underarm seams (not shown).

Step 4: Align the edge of the bias tape with the garment’s edge.

For a functional bias facing, the RS of the bias tape is placed facing the RS of the garment.

Right Side Bias Tape to Right Side Garment - Stitching in Colour

Align the raw edge of the lightly pressed open long edge of the bias tape with the raw edge of the garment.

Sew easy tip: It can be helpful to press the bias tape to the shape of the edge it will finish. This step is optional but it can be useful.

Step 5: Stitch the bias tape to the garment’s edge.

Generally, I think it is preferable to start at a seam — for example, the shoulder or center back seam.

Sew easy tip: However, if your fabric is bulky, you may want to start where there is no seam like the middle of the back of the armhole.

Starting at a Seam - Stitching in Colour

Make your mark at the starting seam as this will offer an assist in closing or joining the loop later!

Go to your sewing machine and position your sewing machine needle about 1 inch or so from the mark you made above.

And then, using a ¼ inch SA, backstitch and slowly stitch the bias tape to the edge.

Use the fold of the bias tape as a guide to help you stitch the two layers together using a precise ¼ inch SA.

This is why I trimmed off ⅜ inch in Step 2. To make it easier to sew a precise ¼ inch SA by using the right edge of the presser foot aligned with the raw edges of the two layers of the bias tape and the garment.

Stitching Bias Tape to Edge - Stitching in Colour
The right edge of the presser foot is even with the raw edges of the tape and the garment!

Slow down and take your time sewing your bias tape to your edge. You’ll be rewarded!

Don’t forget to PAUSE and make sure the raw edges are even with each other as you stitch the bias tape to the edge.

Stitch all the way around the edge, stopping about one inch away from the starting seam and backstitching again.

Short Ends Overlap - Stitching in Colour
If I remove the pin, the two marked lines lay directly on top of each other.

Remove your garment from the sewing machine, lay it flat, overlap the second short end of the bias tape over the first short end, and mark along the seam.

These two lines represent the stitching line that will close the loop and join the two short ends of the bias tape together.

Step 6: Complete the loop.

Align the two lines you marked previously with right sides together (RST) and pin them together like this…

Short Ends Pinned for Stitching - Stitching in Colour
The yellow chalk lines are the stitching line to close the loop.

Now, stitch the two short ends together with a shortened stitch length. This will be easier than trying to backstitch.

After you’ve stitched the short ends together, trim the SA to ¼  inch…

Seam Allowance on Short Ends Trimmed - Stitching in Colour

Press the seam open and return to your sewing machine and close the loop, backstitching at start and end…

Loop Stitched Closed - Stitching in Colour
Loop stitched close.

Now, it’s time to…

Step 7: Trim, Clip, & Press Up.

Remove your garment from your sewing machine and with embroidery scissors, clip the SAs of the curved sections. This will allow them to spread, so you get a nice flat finish around curves.

Seam Allowances Clilpped - Stitching in Colour

Then, press the bias tape and the clipped SAs up and away from the garment.

Press Bias Facing Up - Stitching in Colour

Now head back over to your sewing machine to…

Step 7: Understitch.

Understitch the bias facing to the SAs.

Understitching Bias Facing - Stitching in Colour

Many tutorials skip clipping and understitching. But I’ve found both these techniques are crucial to a pretty finish!

Bias Facing Understitched and Pressed to Wrong Side - Stitching in Colour
This facing will have the decency to stay hidden!

Guess what?!

You’re almost done…

Step 8: Turn, Press, & Finish.

Turn your garment to the WS.

And then bring the bias facing all the way to the WS or inside of the garment, spritz, and press.

At this point, you can edgestitch the bias facing to the garment (casual) or hand sew (polished). Another option is to use double-sided, fusible tape, rather than hand sewing or edgestitching.

Bias Facing Understitched and Edgestitched - Stitching in Colour
Here it is understitched and edgestitched.

In the image below, I finished the bias facing using double-sided, fusible tape.

Bias Facing Finished - Stitching in Colour
Here it is finished with double-sided, fusible tape.

Finally, hit that finished edge with a spritz of water (or steam) and a quick press to get rid of any wonkiness.

And voilà! You have a truly lovely, bulk-free, professional finish.

Bias Facing Finished From Right Side - Stitching in Colour Side
Bias facing from the right side of the garment.

The End

Alright.

That’s enough information to get you started and more than a bit excited about finishing edges with bias tape.

By now, you should be totally in love with the idea of using bias facings. And once you try them, I am certain that you will fall irrevocably in love with this way of finishing edges.

So now that you’re in the know, get busy making some pretty edges!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to make your own custom, pretty bias tape! Super easy!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to topstitch and edgestitch like a pro!

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