Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nothing to be afraid of, folks...

It's just a bit of bias binding.
It's useful stuff for making false hems (especially on heavy fabrics and curved hemlines)....


...doing cute details on twirly skirts for small girls.... or big girls, for that matter. (My usual model had better things to do today. This one is equally headless but a little more compliant).


Bias binding is excellent for binding seams on tricky shaped bags and purses (which means that you can fully line the tricky shaped bag or purse). It's a design feature, to boot.

And you can make quick bibs, pot holders and even mini-oven mitts in no time at all.

This one was a request from the smallest cook in the house. (I'm a bit nervous that it might actually be used to carry something hot, so it comes with a list of rules.... luckily, our cook follows rules... mostly).

So anyway..... I tend to be a bit evangelical about bias tape makers. I was surprised to read that some people buy them and don't try them out. Or some people don't know how to get the most out of them. I've shown this before, but I'll add a bit more detail this time. Complete demystification.


How to use your bias tape maker...

1. To calculate how wide to cut the strip, I double the finished width of the bias tape and then take off a millimetre or two (eg. For an 18mm bias tape maker I cut 35mm wide bias strips). I use my metric quilting ruler and work in millimetres. I'm very sorry - I have absolutely no idea how that works in inches.


The quilting ruler has a bias line (to line up with the selvedge or straight grain) and then a metric grid to measure the width and length of the piece you're cutting. Super-duper quick and accurate.


2. If you need to join two pieces, align them so that they are right sides up and the pointed ends lock in to one another, as shown below.

(It's also a good idea to press your fabric before you start..... I seem to have skipped that step here).


3. With the right sides of fabric facing, match the two strips together along the short edges. Cross the pointed ends with an overlap of about 6mm (anywhere around a quarter of an inch will do the trick).

4. The crossover point of the seam allowances will form right angles on both sides of the tape. Backtack and seam from one crossover point to the other.


5. Press the seam allowances OPEN and then trim them down to about 2.5mm. Trim the ends of the seam allowances to points, as shown below.


6. Cut the end of the tape to a point and thread it through the bias tape maker (cutting it to a point makes it thread more easily).


7. As the point peeps through the end of the bias tape maker, put your iron straight onto it! Hold the little handle and pull the bias tape maker gently with one hand while you follow close behind with the iron in the other hand. Steam works a treat here.

Slow motion replay...Use the pressure of the iron to hold the tape in place while you pull the bias tape maker a centimetre or two. Then move the iron up to the very end of the bias tape maker. Joosh it with steam. Pull another centimetre on the bias tape maker and then move the iron up to the bias tape maker.... that sort of thing...).

You will now have beautiful bias binding.


7. When you sew the bias tape to the edge of your fabric, lay the tape right side down on the underside of the edge you're binding. Sew along the crease on the bias tape.


8. Trim the seam allowances so the bias binding will be able to fold easily over the edge and sit on top of the stitches (seen in red, below) on the other side.



9. Press the bias tape into place over the stitch line, and then topstitch it about 1mm from the edge.


I hope that takes a bit of the mystery out of it and encourages you to go forth and bind everything you can. Like I do. Honestly, I really do.


If you have a bias tape maker and haven't used it, please try it. It really will open up a whole new world of possibilities for sewing all sorts of things. If you haven't got one, we have a special going at the moment that might be right up your alley. The patterns that are on sale with the bias tape makers also include a few more tricks (like a clever way of finishing a bound edge with an undetectable join).


I took more photos of the twirly denim skirt detail being constructed but this post is already too image heavy. Does it warrant a quick tutorial or can you get the idea from the photo (at the top of this post)?

I'd also love to hear from anyone who LOVES their bias tape maker. I'm feeling a bit lonely and geeky here right now. The only people who commented on my last post about them were the non-users.... Please tell me I'm not alone (I accept the fact that I'm a geek... it's just the no-mates-Mallalieu tag that irks me).

47 comments:

Liesl (Hoppo Bumpo) said...

OK here it goes ... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my bias tape maker, Nikki!!! Is there really anything better than being able to make your own beautiful trims?

Hoorah for binding and hoorah for great tutorials like this.

Tania said...

OK, OK, you're not alone. I LOVE 'EM. I wouldn't be without 'em. But I love my iron a lot less - it steams me every single, like ev-er-y single time. Bad iron.

Kathy P said...

I love mine too! I like to anchor the pointy end of the tape to my ironing board with a glass-head pin (melt-proof) so it stays in place as I press.

A Peppermint Penguin said...

The Geeks shall inherit the earth.

casserole said...

I LOVE my bias tape maker!! I like the plain packaged bias tape okay, but bias tape from a printed fabric makes my heart skip a beat! Something about the little line of print around the edge of my sewing projects makes me weak in the knees.

I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-how-to-make-and-apply-bias-tape/2010/03/11/

--Anne

Katie said...

Awesome tutorial. I have been very afraid of my bias tape maker... and bias tape in general. I feel like after reading this i can conquer my fear! Off to the sewing room!!!! Thanks!!!

Fiona and Andy said...

I use mine too - I'm not very good at sewing the bindings on yet (need more practice) but I have bound the edges of a hat, some bibs and a few other things.

Katja said...

See, you are not alone. I LOVE my bias tape makers (yes, I have more than one :) and use them all the time. I even make my labels with one of them (in combination with fabric marker, cheap and easy!)

Geeks unite!!

Tea said...

I've been lurking around here for awhile and loving the posts. This one is especially brilliant! :)
I'm going to embellish a few things in the same manner. Thank you!

Flannel Queen said...

The skirt with the bias tape design running through it is SO cute!!!

Bonniedoo said...

I will add my 2 cents worth as well....I really like my bias tape makers...they are available here in Canada in several sizes.

Umma crafty squirrel said...

I love my bias tape maker, it's much easier to use than the home made one (needle in fabric pull through). I am geeky too, I've spent an entire day making bias tape so, much fun!

chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellieboo said...

You must have read my mind - I am in the process of making some bias binding as I type. Thanks for the great tutorial

Toni Searle said...

Haven't got a bias maker, but want one! Maybe love is just around the corner?

thornberry said...

You know that I love mine too, and I think that I might need to upgrade to a Clover one. I should use it more often - love the bias on the little girl's skirt! Why didn't I think of that? Oh yes, because I rely on you to think of the groovy stuff!

Tori said...

I love reading your posts so much I have you on favourites on my phone so I can check any time through out the day. I have thought about getting a bias tape maker for a while now and your post has made me decide to order one today. Please keep up your posts as this inspiration to us all - look forward to next one.

Tori - Darwin

Liam's Mummy said...

I love my bias tape makers. I think I would go mad trying to make bias tape without them.

I also love the word Joosh (as in joosh it with steam). Did you do that free motion stitching with your new machine?

Kirsty said...

Sensational post Nikki. I also love my bias maker but seem to have misplaced it in the move. Perhaps I need the clover now.

CurlyPops said...

As you probably already know, the bias tape maker is my favourite sewing gadget of all time. I bind everything in sight!

Tanya said...

I want to know if all these lovers cut on the bias- and what size fabric they start with- or were you alluding to, all you have to do is cut along the selvedge, not selvedge to selvedge (that's a lot of selvedge in a sentence, isn't it), I have had great trouble trying to follow the 'easy' method of cutting fabric on the bias in Amy KArols' 'bend the rules' book. ahhhh, am great at straight grain binding though!!

sooz said...

Can't live without mine. Use 'em all the time, even for tape that's not on the bias! Crazy I know!! Should be compulsory purchase if you ask me!

Jodie said...

Thanks for this! I am absolutely hopeless with my bias tape maker and then sewing the tape on. This has made things a LOT clearer. Hopefully next time things will go a bit better for me.

Posie Patchwork said...

Bias rocks, enough said!! Love Posie

ambette said...

Thanks so much, Nikki! I know I saw you demonstrate it a while back in class, but it's great to have it written down to follow at my own pace.

I'm determined to use my bias tape makers this weekend!! Hmm I do need some oven mitts....

Fer said...

Great tutorial! I noticed you used the walking foot to stitch the tape on - do you always use it for this? (maybe that's where I'm going wrong!)

Shelly said...

I'm just a beginning to sew, but my friend gave me a book about making potholders. That will be the next project I do. The first thing I've done before even starting the project is to buy bias tape makers in all different sizes. I haven't used them yet, but I plan to be an avid user of bias tape. I'm so glad that I found this post, Thank you!

Louise said...

If you had seen the look of joy on my face when I first used my bias tape maker you would know that I'm just as geeky! I LOVE them!!!

ange_moore said...

I have a bias tape maker that I still have to take out of the package but i have just used some binding on a bag and wished I could have read your tutorial first - mine's not very neat but I'm sure it'll be OK. Are you willing to share the back of you binding - that's where I was having trouble, looks very neat on the top and horrible on the bottom!!

Esther said...

I don't have one but not through lack of thinking they are a very good idea.. most through having a fair stash of pre made stuff I think i should use up (but is never really the right colour) and partly cos I can never decide which size i should get first!! Isn't that a mad reason!

Romona said...

I would love to my bias tape and have tried. I don't have a problem with putting it through the maker and ironing it. My problem is cutting the material. Everything I have read, says to cut it on a 45 degree angle, however you did not say it. I was wondering if you did cut it on a 45 or on a 90?

rmeyfe said...

I bought one and used it on a project and was so amazed at how easy it was I totally don't know why I ever bought prepackage bias tape!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Nikki for a great explanation on Bias Tape. I'm still trying to learn the sewing ropes and never knew what bias tape was much less how to make it or what I would ever need it for. This helps A LOT! Thanks again.

Gina said...

Hey Nikki. I'm OBSESSED with bias tape, I LOVE sewing with it. I've made my own only twice, the first time it was perfect, but the second time not, I think I measured inaccurately (read: I got cocky and guessed my width! Slap on wrist). I'm also not convinced that my Birch brand tape maker is as nice and neat as your ones... so when I invest in my next size, I'll come to you.

Nikki said...

Ramona -
A bias grain strip is cut on a 45 degreee angle. You can equally cut a straight grain piece and run it through the tape maker to make narrow straps, button loops etc.

sewcraftyfox said...

About to bind a quilt - gah! Needs giant binding but doesn't have to be bias. I was awarded a Sunshine Blogger award by Two Hippos, so wanted to award it to you too! Pop over to pick it up. Love Jen xxx

Handmade said...

My apologies if my comment appears twice - not sure what's happening... anyway, I use them all the time, and I was at a sewing guild meeting yesterday, where one of the guest speakers recommended spraying starch onto the bias strip before inserting into the tape maker, to ensure that the little folded edges stayed pressed down - very useful in dressmaking - I thought that was a great little tip - BTW - is that your NEW Bernina in action?

Sue SA said...

Yep, love my bias maker, just didnt know you could do so much with bias binding! I do not make clothes (always a disaster) and so far have avoided making quilts wih curved edges, but sure to use bias binding on the next bag I make, as I have many bags with dodgy binding corners on the bottom.
However I agree with earlier comment, my issue with machine stitching both sides of the binding is the bottom. And how much to do you trim back, and is it by eye or do you measure?
happy stitching, Sue.

Helen said...

I got a fusible bias tape maker ages ago by mistake-needless to say it sat there for a long while before i realised i could use it without needing to add fusible tape to it. i made a plain brown top for my (soon to be) 4yr old daughter-it needed serious jazzing up-so i plucked up the courage and used my bias tape maker for a contrasting neck and arm holes and man, what a difference it made! long live the bias tape maker (even the fusible making ones)!!

Romona said...

Thank you, I will try again. I want to make it because of the different variety you can make instead of simple ones from the store. Thank you again for the help.

Anonymous said...

Is that a different presser foot too? Have to say thanks for this tute - there are many out there but yours is the best ive seen - and you dont say to hand bind the last step!
Deanna (google isnt my friend 2day - cant log on!)

Pinktulip said...

I do have a bias-tape maker and must confess, I have not used it! I have however made my own bias tape before, mostly when I want to use co-ordinating fabric on a piece I am sewing. I must admit also that I am not fond of making my own bias tape. Mostly because it pains me to use my fabric for the strips! It seems to take so much fabric. Silly, I know.

Nicole said...

Everytime I am making one of your bags my husband says - why dont you add binding! Consider he has a great eye for 'design'(yep he is an architect) its safe to say you are not a geek...

thewinkingfrog said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I am inspired to now use the two bias tape makers I have.

dearmolly said...

I've made bias tape without a maker, with a cheap maker and now I have a whole selection of Clovers which I adore. but Nik, I've always struggled with attaching and thought it was just a commercial v home application thing. Recently I've started sewing just to the right of the fold line, giving me a few extra mm for turning over, but I never thought to trim!! and pressing before sewing - that should have been so bl**dy obvious!!
As always, thanks for your incredible tips! and btw, soooooo jealous of your new machine!!

Lx

Heather said...

I have several bias tape makers. My favorite are the fusible bias tape makers. I can add the fusible web and secure the whole thing just like I like it before I sew. It would make this skirt even easier. I think I need to get a giant bias tape maker though. It would be great for around the hem of a skirt where I really wanted the hem to stand out and talk.

Echo said...

I wanna buy one and its on my list. I make my own bias the old fashioned way but without pins. Takes forever and I end up in a steam cloud cos that's how my mum used to do it. Crazy huh.