I’ve had a bias tape maker for… well over a year now. I’m pretty sure I bought it back when I had the FabricLand membership, and it was $0.30 or something, so how could I not buy it? I love bias tape because if you’re like me and you’re lazy and kind of a sloppy seamstress, and sewing a straight hem saps your will to live, then bias tape is your friend.
The only problem of course is that you have to make the tape in order to be able to use it. (Well, or you could buy it, but the colours it comes in tend to be pretty limited.) Lovely, custom, perfectly matchy bias tape however can be had… and it’s not hard! I’d just been putting it off for no good reason. Until this weekend.
Have you always wanted to know how to make bias tape? No? Well, lucky you, it’s a Monday full of learning, anyway!
Step one: Pick your fabric, and make it rectangular-like.
(Optional: Then stick a cat on it. I actually didn’t put her there, I put the shears on the fabric for some scale and Cashew decided to go cuddle the shears.)
I’ve had this fabric (and other similarly blah fabrics) forever. Don’t ask where they were acquired; just know that I didn’t buy it. They’re sort of more proof that I really should learn to just throw some things out. But! In this case, the fabric was actually a really good match for something I’d been working on.
Anyway, so now you’ve got your fabric. You’ve ironed it. What’s that? You’re lazy and don’t iron while you’re sewing? You know what, I’m pretty lazy about the ironing too, but in this case, you really do want a flat, manageable surface. Go iron that cloth.
Step two: Put the “bias” in your bias tape.
Fold a corner so you’ve got a crisp 45° angle going (and since you’ve already got the iron on, go ahead and iron that crease in) then mark your strips at regular intervals from the crease outward.
In this case, my strips are 2″ wide, so I’ll end up with tape that’s 1″ wide in total, or 0.5″ on each side of the fold, which works for me. If I were doing it again, I’d probably use 1.5″ strips to start, to end up with 3/8″ but we’ll see. Since I don’t have a bias maker in that size, I could also then try out the nifty “loops on the ironing board” method I’ve been curious about since reading it on Casey’s blog.
We’ve now reached the point where my poor sleep-deprived brain stood in the way of my crafting this weekend.
It seems pretty intuitive that with a sheet of cloth with marked diagonals, it shouldn’t be too hard to match up said diagonals, stitch your fabric into a tube, then be able to cut one long, biased strip to whip through the widget to make into tape.
Intuitive, yes. Able to figure out spatial/3D manipulations? Too much to ask from my poor addled pate, so I cut the cloth up into a jillion smaller strips, and did it that way. Still useful, just not as elegant.
What project did I have in mind that actually motivated me to finally make the tape? Well, as Ree would say, that’s another story for another time.
Just kidding — I’ll totally show you! I was making a fold-up-able shopping bag out of some yummy “patchwork” printed cotton I bought back in the summer (you remember that fiasco, right?) but which I hadn’t found the right use for.
Maria, thoughtful bride that she is*, gave her bridesmaids loot bags, and the loot were contained in extremely practical polyester bags which folded themselves tidily up into a tiny pouch which would easily fit in a purse. (If you’re interested, they’re the Patsy Pocket ones listed there.)
(* Note — I was informed that one gets to be a bride for a full year, so despite the fact that she is now married, Maria is still a bride. So, for that matter, am I.)
I love the bag and take it with me everywhere… but sometimes… I get a little… restless with its, umm, utilitarian appearance. I know, I’m shallow. Don’t tell the bag — it’s such a good bag; I wouldn’t want to hurt it for the world. It’s just that with that printed cotton? I’ve never felt so alive. That fabric just gets me, it understands my needs, my need for colour! I’m sure it’s just a fling. It won’t last. The first bag doesn’t need to know. Let’s just keep this between you and me, okay?
First, just so you can understand my infatuation, the cotton:
Isn’t she just luscious? No? I need to seek help for my textile obsession? Okay, then. Next step — making the bag.
This part was actually quite simple, I mean, really: it’s a bag. The tricky part was figuring out the right/wrong sides for the pouch and getting the sizing worked out so that it would fit the folded up bag. Having done that, I slapped it together with pins, and then… waited.
The issue is that I was worried the raw edges would pose structural issues to the bag. I planned some edges (namely of the pouch) to coincide with the selvage (see? lazy), but for most of the inside seams, I was left with raw edges. I don’t own a serger, and I don’t like just zig-zagging the allowances together and hoping for the best. The solution was clear: I needed bias tape.
So, armed with tape, I stitched the bag’s sides up, then slapped the tape over them (again, not elegant, but functional), did the edge around the opening of the bag, and again inside the loop for each handle. Easy peasy.
Would I recommend this to other people? Not so much. Cotton is a glorious fabric, very useful for a lot of things, but it’s not the easiest fabric to squish in and out of a teensy pouch. It lacks both elasticity and squishability. I’ll still use my bag, I just don’t know how often I’ll bother refolding it into a little pillow.
(Oh utilitarian bag, I didn’t know how good I had it! I’ll never take you for granted again!)
That said, I’m thrilled with my cute cotton bag, so I’m very happy I made it. I would just advise anyone looking to do a similar project to maybe consider a lighter, synthetic material instead.
So there you have it — bias tape: easy to make, good for lazy hems, making drawstrings, hiding raw edges inside garments, and enabling sewers to cheat on their perfectly serviceable reusable bags.