When I made my Megan Nielsen Briar top for Project #SewMyStyle, I did something a bit unusual to the hem. I finished the KNIT hem with WOVEN bias tape. And it turned out just lovely!
Mixing wovens and knits can get dicey, but I found (some) woven bias tape is stretchy enough to roll with (some) knits, and the bias tape hugs curves in a delightful way.
Instagram sewing pal @rosiejanesews asked for a tutorial on this knit + woven finish, so here it is! The technique lives somewhere between binding and facing. You use bias tape, but you’re not binding a raw edge. You fold the bias to the wrong side, but you don’t understitch it like a facing. (I asked sewists on IG for their two cents on this technique, and consensus was it’s closer to a facing than a binding.)
Why finish a knit with woven bias tape?
I’ve got three plum reasons to give this finish a bash. A bias-tape finish:
- Can add a pop of color to the inside of a garment (if that tickles your pickle).
- Neatly conceals and protects raw edges (and who doesn’t like that??).
- Adds a bit of mass to a bottom edge (which, depending on the design of your sewing project, can be a great construction detail).
The following directions for how to finish a knit with woven bias tape are for a conventional sewing machine. If you sew knits with a serger or coverstitch machine, I trust you’ll make appropriate adjustments.
Step 0: Test on a curved scrap of your fashion fabric.
It’s important to see if your fashion fabric and bias tape play nice together. Use a decent-sized test scrap to get a feel for how the fabrics will hang together. Yes, I’m telling you to go through the following directions on scrap fabric BEFORE doing the final edge.
Step 1: Make single bias tape.
Single bias tape is a bias strip folded in half the long way. Making it is simple:
1.) Cut bias strips.
2.) Press strips in half the long way, wrong sides together.
The tape should be made of lightweight fabric; a lightweight woven on the bias can be a good facsimile for a knit binding. For the record, when I made my single bias tape for the Briar top, I used Liberty of London cotton lawn (which was left over from my Sew Caroline Larchmont T.)
I used 1-inch wide tape for my Briar top. This width was easy to sew without being too big.
Step 2: Adjust the length of your garment.
The hem of the fashion fabric only will be turned up about one-eight inch using this technique. Adjust accordingly (likely removing length).
Step 3: Place right sides together, align raw edges, and stitch.
Use a one-eighth-inch seam allowance. Use a three-part straight stitch (strong and great for knits) or a narrow zig-zag. Balance keeping the stitches close to the raw edge with preventing them from straying into the seam allowance. This line of stitching will become the bottom of the hem and you don’t want it mangled.
Step 4: Turn tape to wrong side.
Pressing is key at this step. First, press the seam open, with the seam allowance pointing toward the bias (away from edge).
Next, press the bias toward the wrong side, rolling the bottom of the hem slightly to the wrong side (as if you were sewing a facing).
Pressing here shapes the fabric before you commit your final stitches.
Step 5: Topstitch in place.
Choose a stretch friendly stitch.
Step 6: Press using a tailor’s ham to mold the curved edges.
It’s not necessary, but a clapper at this point helps set the seam.
Step 7: Admire that finished edge!
And that’s how to finish a knit with woven bias tape! Have you tried using woven bias tape on knits? How did it go? What other tips would you add to this tutorial? Please sound off in comments!
Do you like this type of blog post? On the backend of my blog, these “educational” posts get a lot of action and live a long life. If there’s something you’d like me to explore, lay it on me! Research is my jam.
P.S. ICYMI, here’s my post from last week: My body type analysis (aka, me in my underwear). And let me tell you — I’ve already used my croqui to firm up plans for my next sewing project, WAHOO!
P.P.S. Here are a handful of those “educational” posts I’m talking about:
Buying an iron for sewing: 5 irons less than $100 from Amazon
How to press scuba knit and more: Tips for working with scuba fabric
Sewing patterns for yoga clothes: 4 yoga sewing patterns, side by side