Sew Like a Pro: How to Finish Armholes With Bias Strips

Finishing armholes or sleeves with bias strips gives such neat and professional-looking results, yet I only came across this method recently, despite sewing garments for almost five years! Sure, I’ve used decorative bias binding before and sewn in actual sleeve facings on occasion, but I usually just press the raw edge under twice and stitch in place.

This new-to-me method is fast becoming my favorite though, so I thought I’d spread the love with a quick tutorial. Bias strips are suitable for finishing both armholes and sleeves, but I use armholes as an example below and have refrained from referencing sleeves to avoid any confusion.

Give your garments a professional finish by learning how to how to finish armholes with bias strips in this step-by-step photo tutorial.

Bias bound sleeves


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Step 1: Measure and prepare the armhole.

Unifinshed armhole edge

Start by measuring the armhole – you can either do this before you sew up the side seams or after, as is pictured above. If you do it with the side seams already sewn up, make sure you double your measurement to incorporate both the front and back length of the armhole.

Basted armhole

Assuming you’re working with a standard 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowance, sew a line around the circumference of the armhole, 1 cm  from its raw edge. If you’re working with different seam allowances, then you’ll have to adjust measurement this accordingly.

Step 2: Prepare and pin the bias strip.

Bias fabric strips

Cut a bias strip of fabric 3 cm wide and long enough to go around your armhole and overlap by 2cm. Fold one short raw edge over, then fold and press the bias strip in half with the wrong sides together. If you don’t know how to find your fabric’s bias, you may find this simple diagram helpful.

Pinned bias strips

Take the folded bias strip and line up the raw edges with the line of stitching that you sewed 1 cm in from the armhole’s edge. Use plenty of pins to hold everything firmly in place as you go along. Start from the underarm seam, and when you get all the way around, overlap the bias strip by roughly 2 cm.

Step 3: Sew the bias strip on and trim seam allowances.

Excess seam allowance

Sew the bias strip onto the armhole, 1.5 cm from the armhole’s edge. Trim the excess seam allowance right up to where the raw edge of the bias strip begins.

Step 4: Press the bias strip under and topstitch the armhole.

Folded bias strips

Carefully fold and press the bias strip over to the wrong side of the armhole, concealing the raw edges as you go along.

Pinned bias strips

Pin into place on the right side of the armhole and carefully topstitch, making sure you catch the bias strip on the wrong side of the armhole.

Bias bound armhole

Et voila, you now have one very neat and professionally finished armhole! Don’t forget to repeat on the other side!

Need help with conversions? Check out our Fabric Metric Conversion Guide — it’s FREE and downloadable for easy referencing!

What’s your preferred method of finishing armholes or sleeves?


Mary Therese Karwowski-Phelan

ok..this looks horrible! why are there puckers?

Mary Therese Karwowski-Phelan

ok..this looks horrible! why are there puckers?


I always measure the pattern not the garment. This way the when sewing the armhole it will not gape. When sewing down the folded edge make sure that you push with the left hand the bodice material up as the feeddogs will push the material down,hence the puckers. No need to press as this will stretch the armhole if you are not careful, topstich as you would do a facing. A light press at this stage can be of help but I just sew down the tape as the topstiching puts it all in place….The most helpful is using the left hand topush the bodice material up as you sew. And please check the pressure foot when sewing with bindind


I wish they had done this with solid fabric, not patterned. It’s really hard to see the details with all the patterns in the fabric.


Ditto on using a solid fabric. I use a bias strip slightly smaller than the armhole so that it curves toward the body when worn; I sew the bias strip with my serger -there is no need to turn it under again and sew in place.


I agree with Paula about the solid fabric. Maybe a lighter color would make things more visible as well, as the black made it hard to see the details.


Amazing…can’t wait to try it. I think a solid color may have been more difficult to see the separate fabric pieces. I viewed on my larger tablet and it was easier to understand with bigger pics. Thanks for taking the time to explain this process. Will definitely make all my sleeves much nicer.


Another poorly prepared and presented tutorial…the worst possible choice of fabrics. No wonder home sewers are a joke!!!


I am a “home sewer” and trust me I am no joke!!! I have sewn many many things from jeans to evening gowns-costumes to everyday enjoyable clothes. It takes practice and determination and is not for everyone but do not think sewing is a joke.

Marilee Berg

I was very disappointed in this tutorial, mostly due to the poor choice of demo fabric. It was very difficult to see what was being sewn, where and how on the patterned black and white, in the poorly lit photos.. I’m an experienced seamstress too. Even in the two photos using a solid color, puckering is very noticeable and I consider the result unsatisfactory and amateurish looking.


Craftsy has international customers, but it is an American company, at least at the moment. There should be no need for an American reader to need to go to a Fabric Metric Conversion Chart for a tutorial offered to Crafty’s primary market. This is not sophisticated science; either print measurements in both the U.S. Customary System of measurement of inches and feet AND the metric system or solely print the measurements in the customary measurement system used in America, the land of Crafty’s primary market. Converting only the 1.5 cm measurement to inches and not the other measurements in this tutorial doesn’t make sense, and referring someone to a metric conversion chart link makes about as much sense as printing the text in Japanese and referring readers elsewhere to translate that text.


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