Bias-cut, tweed and Birgitta Helmersson’s zero waste slip dress

The bias-cut fun continues here at Haywood Homestead, in spite of the recent failed bias-cut slip.

This time I’m experimenting with creating bias fabric and then cutting a zero waste pattern from it. The pattern I’m using is Birgitta Helmersson’s slip dress from her new book Zero Waste Patterns.

The added catch is I’m using tweed, to make a winter pinafore-style dress rather than a lightweight flowing slip. (The whole vibe of this book is undeniably summery: grassy Scandinavian meadows, dappled sunshine, clear skies, wildflowers, etc.)

This mid-grey tweed was given to me, along with the patterned satin-y lining. The tweed is very tightly woven. It has no writing on the selvedge but it’s definitely 100% wool.
I cut and sewed the tweed into a parallelogram and then a tube which is on the bias. There are various ways of doing this – sorry, there’s no tutorial in this post. The tube has diagonal seams sewn on the straight grain.

These are the pattern pieces cut from the tube, according to the directions in Helmersson’s book.

Cutting this pattern from a tube meant I could eliminate the centre back seam, but I positioned the diagonal seams on the back. I like these – I’m a little regretful they aren’t on the front now.
Before moving anything off the table, I measured and cut cotton tape to stabilise the edges. The book says to do this for the armholes, but I did it for the top edge too since it’s on the bias.

I had thought the tweed was fairly stable, but sewing the tape showed just how it could stretch from minimal handling. The edges will have binding over the top of this tape.

This is as far as I’ve gotten, and it took a while to get to this stage.

I haven’t done anything with these yet – they’re the armhole cutouts which are used to face the side splits.

The lining has yet to be made – the patterned fabric was so strong-smelling (as in, really strong op shop smell) that I had to wash it. It’s hanging on the line drying at the moment. Hopefully it will smell like eucalyptus now!

When I’ve made the lining I’ll put it with the tweed and bind the edges, maybe with some sturdy-yet-flexible linen. I might have a matching neutral colour but will have to go and look for it. I think this dress needs wide, substantial straps.

To be continued next week…


UPDATE: here’s how I cut the bias tube.


  1. Giul Bendandi on August 1, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    Hi! super cool! The first time I heard about sewing wuth bias was on this amazing podcast that one can still listen too! Thread cult. I highly recommend it!

    • lizhaywood on August 2, 2023 at 10:40 am

      Hi Giul, many thanks for this link.
      Edit to add: just realised I listened to this and bought their book.

      • Adele on August 8, 2023 at 2:01 pm

        Goodness, that Bias Cut book was so pricey to buy from the US, but I really enjoyed reading it. I made a tube dress according to their instructions—and then discovered that my unladylike stride and graceless getting in and out of cars really requires an A-line shape or gathers. Your method here solves that problem 🙂

      • lizhaywood on August 8, 2023 at 3:20 pm

        Yes it was pricey, but as Mr H says: “It only hurts once!” Such a good book.

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