I love a bit of handmade bias. I have made lots and lots of it over the years. Up until recently they were all for dressmaking and accessories. But last week I used some handmade bias to bind the edge of my first handmade quilt – blog to follow. Whilst it is fairly easy to make by just cutting diagonal strips of fabric and sewing them all together, there is an easy way to make a long continuous strip simply with just two seams of sewing and a bit of clever marking out and cutting. Let me show you how!
Firstly, for this method to work, your fabric piece must be perfectly square. So measure carefully as if you are just a little out it just won’t work. My starting square of fabric measured 20″ square. Next step is to make a little mark on each of the four edges of the square. Just a teeny tiny mark that is so small it will stay inside the seam allowances when sewn. I marked a little ‘A’ on both the vertical edges, and a little ‘B’ on the top and bottom horizontal edges.
Next, cut your square diagonally making 2 triangles.
This is where you are glad that you have marked your fabric edges. Place both ‘A’ edges right sides together and pin in place. As always when using triangular pieces you will have a triangular point sticking out at each corner edge. Just place your fabric centrally on top of each other and don’t worry about these little sticky out points (technical term right there).
Take your fabric to your sewing machine and sew along this edge using a small seam allowance of approx 1/4″. Press this seam open.
You should now have what my 12 year old son reliably informs me is a parallelogram shape!
Now to decide on how wide you want your binding strip to be. I want to finish up with 1″ single fold bias binding. Therefore I will need to my strip to measure twice this (2″) when first cut.
Measure out your desired width (in my case 2″) and draw lines of this width along the long edge of the parallelogram. Make sure you are doing this on the wrong side of the fabric. See picture below. You will be able to get several rows out of one piece of fabric. Almost certainly you will be left with an excess strip which is not quite wide enough (seen at the bottom of the photo below). This will be a small amount of waste that can’t be used.
Turn your fabric over now and place the two edges marked ‘B’ together. At this point all the lines should match up perfectly. But not for long!
Right, this is the tricky bit. You will need to shift your fabric pieces so that the the rows are offset by one. Please refer to the photo below to help you. Basically you will have a sticking out piece of fabric at the top and bottom of your piece now. It doesn’t lay flat nicely now but don’t worry about it – although it feels wrong it is right!
Pin these two edges right sides together. You are going to sew along this edge using a small 1/4″ seam allowance again so make sure that your lines will still match up when this seam has been sewn. A good way to check if your lines will match up when sewn is to pop a pin in the line on one side at 1/4″ from the edge and see if it come through the line on the other side.
Take it to the sewing machine and sew along your pinned edge using your 1/4″ seam allowance. This can be quite tricky as the fabric will not lay flat, it just feels wrong. Stick with it, it will be o.k!
After you have sewn the seam you will notice that your fabric will lay flat again. Take it to the iron and press the seam open as you did before.
Now the fun bit! Here you will see why it was important to offset your drawn lines by one. You will now cut along the lines you have drawn in order to get one long continuous piece of bias tape. Take care to only cut one layer of fabric as you go – it’s easy to cut the fabric underneath by mistake.
Hopefully you can see that shifting your fabric you almost get a spiral effect as you are cutting it. Had you left your lines all matching up and not offset by one you would have just ended up with lots of loops when you cut it out. I hope this makes sense it is a little difficult to explain. I really think the photographs should help more than my waffle!
Out of the 20″ square that I started with I managed to get 200 inches of 2″ wide tape! You could leave it like this of course, or follow the next step to make it into pressed single fold tape.
In order to make it into 1″ single fold bias tape I ran it through my bias tape maker with the iron and there you have it!
I hope that you will have a go at making this. Do let me know how you get on! After making this tape I used it to finish off my #2017sve gift. Look out later in the month for a tutorial on the secret handmade gift that I made using this bias!
Take care, and I’ll be back soon,