Making a bias top

posted in: SWAP 2014 | 0


Just CF and CB seams!
Just CF and CB seams!

My daughter had been asking me if I could make her some silky tops to wear to work. Feeling t shirts were a bit too informal for going to court etc she wanted a cool, easy to put on, easy to wash and dry top, in a range of bright colours. It sounded like a fairly easy project. I downloaded and tried the well-loved Sorbetto top (my first experience with downloading a pattern). Despite the generosity of the designer I am afraid I didn’t like it much, and she hated it – way too baggy for a skinny size 6. The thought of a bias top then occurred to me. This would enable the top to be put on over the head, it would cling to the body as if it were a t-shirt, yet it could be made to look quite formal in a woven fabric.

I searched the internet for a simple bias top pattern. As I couldn’t find one (any suggestions?) I decided to draft one. In fact I simply drew a simple sleeveless top, joining the side seams so there was one half piece.

Bias top pattern

In order to see if the neckline and shoulders were acceptable and to check that it would go over my head I recycled an old linen skirt I had bought from the Shelter charity shop £2 rail. I chose it because it was nearly ankle length, size 18, with a draw-string waist (I know…). But the fabric was a nice tonal linen with a blue weft and greenish warp, made by East (an Indian company – they also make FabIndia products).

I added seam allowance and placed the centre-front on the cross grain (and of course this placed the centre-back on the cross too). The skirt had some decorative seaming in it which I manoeuvred so it produced a nice chevron effect design line across the front of the top. I used the draw-string for a little belt to pull the top in more.


I drafted some sleeves, which I wasn’t sure should be cut on the bias or not.  I found it easier to layout the sleeves on the cross. I think it is the mixing of straight and cross grain that is probably more fabric greedy than using a consistent approach.I managed to squeeze the whole top out of a piece of pink and grey wool Linton tweed I had, but there wasn’t enough for any facing. I had a pink chiffon remnant which had already been cut on the cross. I thought this would be a good neutral shade and luxurious enough for my binding, and used this on the cuffs, neckline and hem. I lined the top in light weight pink habotai silk. There wasn’t much fabric left so I used what there was to make a little skirt, hip measurement plus 2in then gathered the waist into a waistband, lined again in the light pink silk. It’s a nice set to wear.

Bias top and matching skirt
Bias top and matching skirt

I am keen to progress my bias experiments in due course.


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