Bias Toward the Pretty
Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2007
In sewing, as in many areas of life, it helps to have a few reliable shortcuts. Count bias tape among them. Made from strips of folded fabric, bias tape is a multitasking trim that's utilitarian yet fashionable. It binds raw edges quickly and, unlike strictly decorative materials such as ribbon or flat trim, travels around curves with ease, never puckering. Whether you want to redo a hem, add a flourish to everyday items such as bath towels, or make functional details such as loops on pot holders and ties on seat cushions, bias tape can make your life easier.
Store-bought bias tape is widely available, but only in a small selection of solid colors. Although plain hues work well with patterns, there's no need to limit yourself. You can easily create your own bias tape in bright prints from almost any woven fabric. Quilting-supply shops offer an exceptional variety, but you also can find inspiration in your sewing stash, a floral-patterned pillowcase, or vintage clothing. Whether you seek a design that's modern or classic, playful or elegant, making your own bias tape ensures your project turns out to be exactly what you want.
Bias-tape makers come in a variety of sizes, creating strips of fabric 1/4 inch to 2 inches in width. Use a medium-weight woven fabric, such as quilting cotton or summer linens. These instructions are for making single-fold tape.
1. Start with 1 yard of fabric. With dressmakers' chalk and a clear quilting ruler, mark strips at 45-degree angles, one beside the next. (To determine the width of the strips, see instructions with bias-tape maker.) Cut out strips.
2.To create longer lengths of bias tape for larger projects, join strips end to end as follows: Place two strips, right sides facing and diagonal ends aligned, at a 90-degree angle. Stitch in place with a 1/2-inch seam allowance, backstitching to secure. Press open with an iron. Snip corners.
3. Feed one end of fabric into bias-tape maker, pulling 1 to 2 inches of fabric through the other side. Pin bias tape to ironing board to hold it in place. Press with iron. Continue to pull strip through bias-tape maker, ironing as you go.
Types of Bias Tape
A bias-tape maker creates single-fold bias tape, top, that works on almost any project requiring trim. Store-bought double-fold bias tape, above, is folded lengthwise a second time; its crisp crease makes quick work of large projects.
To bind raw edges or embellish seams, slip bias tape over the edge of the project. Pin to secure. Stitch 1/8 inch in from tape's edge, making sure needle passes through underside of tape.
To prevent fraying at edges, cut bias tape 1/2 inch longer than required. Stop stitching about 1 inch before the tape's end. Open the bias tape like a book; fold end over the edge of the project's fabric. Close bias tape, and stitch in place.
To prevent fraying on continuous bindings, cut bias tape 1 inch longer than required. Stop stitching about 1 inch before completing project. Open the bias tape like a book; fold under 1/2 inch at end. Close bias tape, and stitch in place.