Tutorial: Finishing a curved hem with bias binding

For the second of the Indie Pattern Month challenges on The Monthly Stitch, I’ve made two Sewaholic Granville button down shirts. The Granville puts a feminine spin on the tailoring of a traditional male shirt including details like curved shirt tails. You can read all about my two Granvilles over on The Monthly Stitch blog but here I’d like to share with you how I finished that curved hem of my linen striped version.

Granville Shirt by Sewaholic Patterns, Envelope Front

As you may know, hemming a curved edge, especially one that undulates up and down and up and down again without undue puckering can be a tedious task if you try to simply press up twice and stitch. To achieve a smooth finish, I bound this curvy hem with self-bias binding.

To do this, first go find yourself one of these handy dandy tools: DSC_0429

Mine is a Dritz Quilting brand 1/2″ (12 mm) bias tape maker. There are all kinds of widths available and those that make various folding arrangements. This one just folds up the 1/4″ on each raw edge, leaving a 1/2″ wide strip  down the center.

Follow the directions on the package for cutting your fabric at a 45 degree angle in long strips. For this 1/2″ finished bias we need to cut strips 1″ wide. If necessary, stitch your strips together at the ends to create longer lengths. If you get neurotic like me, you can even pattern match when joining your strips. I dare you to find the joint  on this finished bias binding!
DSC_0466 Give up? It’s in the center of the second wide blue strip to the left of the right hand seam. See it now? Lol! That was just for my own pure satisfaction. Maybe I went a little overboard with pattern matching this shirt?

Now you have miles of raw fabric strips to feed through your bias tape maker. Using a long strong pin can make pulling the starting end through the maker a little easier. Once you get it started, you’ll have to hold the first inch or so in place while you press it. DSC_0435

After you get started, try pinning the starting end down to your ironing board to keep it in place, then draw the bias maker down the length of the strip keeping your iron close to the folded strip coming out of the bias maker. Once you have the whole length pressed into neat little bias tape it’s time to apply it.

Unfold one edge of the bias tape. Align the raw edge of the bias tape with the raw edge of your hem with right sides together. Stitch the bias tape to the hem along the crease of the fold.
DSC_0436 Sorry I forgot to photograph this step until I’d finished stitching the seam so the more keen observer may notice that the seam has already been stitched even though the fabric is still on the machine bed since I put it back on to snap a pic. LOL!

Leave about 1/2″ of tape sticking off the each end of your seam if you have a flat hem to finish like this shirt. If you have a complete circle to hem, you’ll have to join the beginning to the end (that will have to wait for a different tutorial though). DSC_0437

Press this seam allowance away from the hem edge. I find it helpful to press from the wrong side, then the right side.

Now press the entire bias tape and seam allowance to the inside of the garment so that it cannot be seen from the right side. Ease the bias into the curve and pin in place as needed. DSC_0440

If you have ends to deal with, open them up and tuck the raw edges in and fold it up again along the creases.
DSC_0442 If your project has top stitching and a top stitched hem will look appropriate, as is the case with this shirt, you can machine stitch close to  the upper edge of the bias. If an invisible hem would be more appropriate to your garment, slip stitch this upper edge in place. DSC_0443

Give it one more good press and you have a beautiful pucker-free curved hem.

Now if you haven’t already done so, hop over to the Monthly Stitch and check out the rest of this linen shirt and take a gander at all the lovely indie sewing that’s been going on.


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