Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making My Own Bias Tape

Before last week, I probably couldn't tell you what bias tape was exactly (Remember, I am new to sewing).  While reading through some sewing tutorials last Wednesday, however, I decided it was time to learn more about it.  By Thursday of last week, I was hyper-aware of bias tape.  Not only did it seem like a staple I should have on hand in my craft room, but it also seemed like a much better trim solution on the denim storage bin I made just two days before.

I decided I wanted use bias tape on a project.  Actually, I decided I wanted to make my own bias tape and then use it on a project.   And that is exactly what I did.

I am not going to recreate an entire tutorial here.  I followed some really fantastic blogs and websites while creating my bias tape - no need to reinvent the wheel.  I will, however, highlight some tips and hints in this post  and link you to the sites I used during my adventure.  Keep reading if you want to learn more about how I created my own bias tape:

Bias Tape Makers:  After reading (and re-reading) a great blog on techniques for making and using bias tape, I ordered two manual bias tape makers - a one-inch maker and a two-inch maker.  The blog mentioned ordering the 2-inch bias maker online as it is not easily found in stores.  I found it online pretty quickly and ordered both items because it was so convenient - my Thursday a.m. order was delivered Friday around noon - for free (Gotta love Amazon Prime).
I happened to stop in the fabric shop Friday afternoon and verified that:
  • The 2-inch bias maker was not stocked, just like the blogger said.
  • The retail price on the 1-inch bias maker matched what I paid (I could have saved a couple of dollars w/ a coupon).
Note:  Do you know about the mobile apps for Jo-Ann , Michaels, and Hobby Lobby?  The cashier simply scans the coupon from my mobile device - I am never without a coupon again.  It's awesome.
1" and 2" Bias Tape Makers
An electric bias tape maker is also available, but it's too expensive for me to justify.  To learn more about it, read a great review here and here.  Someday, if I begin to really sew a bunch, I may invest in this cool gadget.  Until then, I will go old-school.

Cutting Bias Strips:  I attempted to cut strips for the bias tape using instructions found on several different online tutorials and videos.  I spent about two hours trying to match ends up properly so that I had the correct angles.  It was a confusing and tedious process.
Bias Strips, cut and sewn together
And then I had a 'lightbulb moment' Piping cord and Bias tape start from the same raw material (no pun intended).  Duh!  In my blog post, How to A Window Seat Cover using Window Panels, I link to a fabulous video tutorial that discusses how to cut continuous piping (welt) cord.  The instructor cut 18 yards of 1 1/2" welt strips for piping cord using just 1/2 yard of fabric.  Watch the video tutorial below:  

To make bias tape, I simply adjusted the measurement:  3 3/4" strips for two-inch double-fold bias and 2" strips for 1/2-inch double-fold bias tape.  What a time saver!  This method really is the easiest method I've seen for cutting bias strips.  And, this past week, I've seen many, many methods for cutting bias strips.
Note:  The bias tape maker instruction sheet includes a Strip Width Table that tells you how wide to cut the fabric.  Another great resource to determine how much yardage you need for various lengths and widths of bias tape is The Dread Pirate Rodgers Continuous Bias Page.   Click here for the printable .pdf file.

Ironing Bias Tape:  Once you've cut the proper width of fabric, it's off to the ironing board.  I used cotton fabric, so I was able to set the heat up high.
Iron down the folded fabric that comes out of the maker.
To make the double-folded bias tape, I folded the tape in half, so one side was just slightly below the other.  And, I ironed it a second time.
Ironing the double-folded bias tape
Finally, to keep things neat and orderly, I wound the tape around an index card:
Completed bias tape, wound and ready for use.
Phew!  I feel so accomplished!  I made 9 yards of 1/2" double-fold bias tape and 6 yards of 1" double-fold bias tape - 15 total yards.

Final analysis:  

  • Time:  This project took about 4 hours to complete.  I'll attribute this to the learning curve and hope that the next time goes quicker.  
  • Cost:  If I already owned the bias tape makers, the project would only have cost three dollars - the fabric I used was (of course) a remnant purchased on sale.  The bias tape makers cost me about sixteen dollars (for both makers). 
I would say this endeavor was a cost-effective success.  As the saying goes, "...teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."  I have a new skill and am not afraid to use it!

In fact, here is what I made using my newly created bias tape:
Flat Iron Travel Case made using newly created bias tape
I found the tutorial for the flat iron travel case on Pinterest, of course.  It's not sewn perfectly, but it is certainly useful!

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