I am totally biased… in favor of custom made bias tape! Seriously, Moxie Peeps, once you start making your own bias tape, the stuff in the package at the store just sucks. I started by purchasing a Clover bias tape maker — it’s kind of a tough decision to make at first because they come in a variety of sizes. Should I just purchase them all?? My inner princess says, “Yes!!!” My inner accountant says, “Pick a size and start with one.” So, I started with the 3/4″ size.
Then, there’s the question of how you use the darn thing… and for that I turned to my go-to resource these days, The Coletterie. Colette Patterns showed me two ways to make bias tape:
In the end, I found that I infinitely prefer the piecing method because I get a cleaner finish… and I was only able to figure out the continuous method the first and only time I made it. Here are some pictures of the one and only time I made continuous bias tape… well, it worked! Too bad I couldn’t figure out the directions a second time. You can tell I was über confused the first & only time because I had to draw two sets of lines and they still didn’t make sense after I drew them. Ha!
The piecing method doesn’t actually take that much longer. The important thing is to remember to square off your big piece of fabric so that you can ensure that you’re measuring and cutting on the bias. A rotary cutter makes this a snap, but I know some folks are not such fans of the rotary, so some clearly marked cutting lines made with a disappearing ink pen work great for snipping with your fabric shears.
The most valuable thing I learned from the piecing method is to follow Step 5 from The Coletterie… square off your strips! I didn’t do this the first time I did this method and while my bias tape still turned out as bias tape, it wasn’t nearly as polished as every batch I’ve made since.
After quickly stitching the strips, perpendicular & right sides together, you end up with a big pile of unpressed bias tape. I confess, I didn’t press my seams open on a few batches while making my Washi Dresses (I’ve made five of these now… a video post will be coming soon!). If the fabric had been more delicate, this would have been more important, but the cotton I used had a lot of substance so the seams tended to naturally press in one direction as the fabric moved through the bias tape maker.
The Clover bias tape maker is so easy to use! I am seriously in love with this thing. I found that my bias strips worked best when they measured 1.5 – 1.75″ for my .75″ bias tape maker. I just pushed one end of my long bias strip through the back of the bias tape maker and started pressing with my steam iron. Pull, press, repeat… until the entire strip is done.
Now if only I can remember to calculate the yardage as I’m cutting strips… because I have a LOT of custom bias tape left over in my card catalogue that I use for storing trims and notions. Note to self: must find projects involving bias tape to use up extra bias tape that I made. #seamstressproblems
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