Making Narrow Bias Tape: Perfect for Appliquéd Stems, Vines and More

While working on the stems for my class sample of the North Carolina Lily block this week, I was reminded how easy the process is with the help of a Clover Bias Tape Maker. My students were thrilled with the results, and although this tool has been around for awhile, it was new to all of them. I hope you too will find this tutorial helpful.

The North Carolina Lily is one of my favorite blocks...lots of piecing and a bit of appliqué.

The Bias Tape Maker allows you to neatly fold and press the sides of a bias strip of fabric. It is available in five different sizes, which make finished strips ranging from 1/4″ to 2″ wide. I generally use the smaller size tools for my appliquéd stems and vines, but they are also perfect for Celtic appliqué. The larger sizes can be used for bindings and other projects.

These tools neatly fold bias strips of fabric.

This is how it works.

  1. Cut a bias strip of fabric to the desired length. (The width of the strip is determined by the size tool you are using). Usually, when bias strips are cut, the ends will be cut diagonally. If yours are not, use your cutting tools to angle them. This makes for easy insertion into the tool. For a quick lesson on cutting bias strips, click here to watch my instructional video.

Cut ends of the strips on the diagonal.

2. Lightly spray the fabric strip on the wrong side with spray starch or a starch alternative like Mary Ellen’s Best Press. This will help hold the creases after pressing.

3. Place the tool onto a pressing surface with the metal side facing up. Then, with the right side of the fabric strip facing up, feed it into the opening on the wide end of the tool. A pin is helpful for feeding the strip all the way through the opening and out the narrow end.

Use a pin to gently feed the fabric strip through the opening in the tool.

4. Turn the tool and fabric strip over on the pressing surface. Use a pin to secure the extended end of the strip to the surface. If you are right-handed, position the tool as shown in the photo. If you are left-handed, reverse the placement for easy pressing.

5. You will want to work slowly and carefully on this next step. Use a dry setting on your iron.  Gently pull the tool down the length of the fabric strip with your free hand while firmly pressing the starting end with the iron.

6. Continue pulling the tool down the length of the strip while slowly and firmly pressing the folded end. If you work too quickly, the center fold may shift out of alignment and not fold evenly. Not to worry if this happens; simply pull the tool back over the unevenly folded strip and re-press.

This is not uncommon but is easily corrected.

7. If you are using the bias tape for stems or vines, it is now ready to be attached to the background fabric. I like to lightly mark the placement lines onto the fabric and then use a basting glue such as Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It to secure the strips. They are now ready to be stitched either by hand or machine.

If you haven’t yet tried this tool I hope this may inspire you to add a few appliquéd stems or vines to your next quilt.

Before I sign off, I just want to share with you one more darling (if I do say so myself!) apron I worked on last week. I added a bib to the pattern I showed you in my previous post.

What makes it so special for me, aside from my favorite color polka dots are these two lovely treasures I found at Sur la table. Aren’t they just perfect? Ahh…I see more happy baking in my future.

I love this tea towel and matching measuring spoons.

Congratulations to Susan Shamekh, the winner of the “Happiness” bundle of laminated fabrics from my previous post.

It is a glorious day here in Sunny California. Aside from the fact that I woke to a 4.4 earthquake, it is a perfect day. Hope you are enjoying yours.

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3 Responses to Making Narrow Bias Tape: Perfect for Appliquéd Stems, Vines and More

  1. Sue says:

    Laura, another very nice and instructive (is that a word?) article. I’ve been using the bias tape makers for years and swear by them. Would you consider doing a blog on Y seams though?

  2. Laura Nownes says:

    Thanks Elaine. I always love simple.

  3. elaine says:

    i love your north carolina lily block. the clover bias tape maker and the simple applique seems to be an easy way to try applique. of course, your fabrics are awesome in the lily block!

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