Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY: Bias Tape

My next post will be how to sew a makeup brush case, but first, I'm going to teach you how to make bias tape, which will be the first step to making the makeup brush case. This was the first time I made bias tape and honestly while I was making it I was like, this does not make sense!! but with patience and diligence, it worked out! I'm sure I'm going to be making more in the future and it'll be way easier now that I know what I'm doing!

What is bias tape?
Bias tape (aka bias binding) is basically fabric that is cut at the bias, the 45 degree angle to the selvage, into a long strip. It's a little misleading that it's called "tape" when it's not sticky at all.
Because bias tape is cut across the woven threads as opposed to along them, it is flexible and durable. It is used mainly for edging projects, especially curved ones, such as armholes, necklines, placemats, bags, etc.

You can buy them already made but the selections are pretty limited (see Wrights bias tape above), or make them yourself.

And just for reference, here are some definitions:
- Selvage edge: the finished edge of the fabric; it's usually a white edge with printed text on it
- Bias: the 45 degree angle to the selvage or crossgrain
- Grainline: threads that are parallel to the selvage
- Crossgrain: threads that are perpendicular to the grainline

I've seen the piecing method, where many strips are cut out and then sewn together to form a long strip. I will be showing you how to do the continuous method where the fabric is sewn into a loop and cut into a long continuous strip. I am following Deborah Moebe's method for making continuous bias tape from her book, "Stitch by Stitch".

- 18" x 22" pre-washed and ironed fabric
- matching thread
- pins
- scissors/rotary cutter
- seam gauge
- chalk


1. Cut out a piece of 18" by 22" fabric. Both sides of my fabric are the same, but if you have print on your pattern, lay the pretty side down.
2. Fold up the bottom right corner so that it makes a triangle with the top edge.
3. Cut along the fold either with scissors or a rotary cutter.
4. Flip the left piece upside down.

Flip the right triangle piece over diagonally to the left.

5. Pin the edge of fabric and stitch together using a 1/4" seam allowance. Once stitched, it should open up into a parallelogram.
6. Press the seam allowance open.
7. With seam allowance side up, draw lines parallel to the bias 3 inches apart.
8. When you get to the end, trim off the excess fabric as it won't be up to 3 inches.
9. Now you should have lines going diagonally across your entire parallelogram. At the top, number from right to left, 0,1,2 etc.
10. Fold up the bottom so that your lines match up. Now at the bottom, from right to left, number starting from 1,2,3, etc.

11. Now turn the fabric over so that the lines are face down. Turn over each edge and match up the numbers. You'll notice that the edges will be hanging off, but that's on purpose!

12. Now pin the edges where the lines and numbers meet up together.
13. Sew along the pinned edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. 
14. Now you have a tube! Press the seam allowance open. A sleeve board is good for this, if you have one. Otherwise, an ironing board works too.

15. Starting with the piece hanging off the tube, start cutting along the lines until you have one long strip!
 Now you've got a long strip of bias tape!
Pressing Your Bias Tape
Now, we want to press in the raw edges of the bias tape by 5/8" inch. They sell bias tape makers, but if you don't have one, I learned this nifty trick to create even folds with just a needle!

1. Pin a long needle to the back of your ironing board. Since we want to press in each side of the 3 inch bias tape by 5/8", place the needle in at 5/8" from each side.

2. Cut the end of your bias tape into a point and feed it under the needle.
3. As you pull the tape under, the edges should fold under. You can use your seam gauge to double check that it is at 5/8".
 4. Press the bias tape as you pull the tape under. Continue under your entire bias tape is pressed.
Easy peasy! Once you've finished pressing your bias tape, it's ready to be used!

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