The Donna Skirt: Creating bias cut organza hem tape

Many 1950s through early 1960s dresses and skirts were full and gathered or full and flared. The flares could fall softly or be more prounounced depending on the finish used at the hemline.

If a softer finish is wanted then it is not necessary to add nylon braid or a horsehair braid to the hemline of a flared or circle skirt. Hem tapes such as Flexi-Lace by Wrights provide a nice finish to the hem. The nylon braid or horsehair is essential, though, if you want the flares to hold their shape.

I tend to favor making my own hem tape for flared and circle skirts. Since I have sensitive skin the horsehair braid would make me break out in a rash. The nylon braid is a little too scratchy for my liking. I’ve found bias cut organza strips pieced and sewn together to provide just the right balance for my needs. The flares hold their shape but in a soft way.

Hemming a circle or flared skirt is best approached by breaking down each part of the process into segments. This makes it easier to focus and apportion the right amount of time needed to complete each stage.

I like to make as much bias cut seam tape as possible in one session. So what you’re seeing in the photos that follows is a mega session, one which provides the seam tape for the Donna skirt and a few more flared skirts, as well.

1. Straighten the crosswise grain by cutting and tearing across. Lay out the entire length on a flat surface. Then fold the crosswise grain to meet the selvedge. Pin in place and cut across the diagonal fold.

2. Cut out bias triangle. Steam press carefully, do not overhandle the bias piece.

3. Bring the bias triangle back to the cutting surface and fold in half. Pin in place.

3a. Calculate how wide you will need your seam tape to be and then double that measurement. Add an additional 1″ for seam allowances. When cut the strips are folded in half. For The Donna Skirt I cut the strips 5″ wide. The finished strip when folded will be 2″ high with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

4. I recommend using tailor’s chalk to mark the fabric. It will easily brush off without leaving any traces upon the fabric. Cut the organza after marking.

5. Pin the strips together at right angles so that they look like the photo.

5a. Pin at right angles using very fine straight pins.

5b. Baste.

6. Stitch by machine. Then remove bastings and press all seams open along the bias strip.

9. Fold the completed strips in half as you gently steam press. Pull slightly as you press so that the folded strip takes on a curved shape.

9a. Finished strip after pressing.

10. Mark in 1/2″ from the edge using clear plactic ruler and Tailor’s Chalk. The bias cut organza seam tape is now ready to use for hemming a flared or circle skirt.

11. Store the bias hem tape by rolling it before putting away. I use a roll of paper towels.

Please note: The width of the tape and the width of the hem of a flared or circle skirt are determined by the fabric you use and how much support you want to give the flares.


One thought on “The Donna Skirt: Creating bias cut organza hem tape

  1. Pingback: 1930s Sew-along with Norma: Bias binding instead of facings | Retro Glam

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