Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Continuous Bias Tape

This is a project that made me very nervous.  I'm about to re-cover a car seat and I thought it would look so cute with a patterned bias tape but that required me to make my own.

I've used bias tape on a bunch of projects and I really love the look and how easy it makes finishing your edges, it was finally time to make my own.  In the past projects generally require a second go, at least certain parts but I only had one chance to make this work.  I followed careful directions that I'm about to give you.  There are tons of tutorials out there that you could follow but it's my blog so I'm giving you my own.

I started with half a meter of fabric layed out on my counter. 

 Take one corner and fold it down, like so

Then I carefully pressed the fold so when I unfolded it I had an easy line to follow.  I then cut along the pressed fold line.  Taking my triangle I moved it to the end of my fabric making a parallelogram.  Putting right sides together I pinned and sewed down my new line and pressed my seam open so it looked like this.  Make sense?  You can barely see my seam on the left hand side.

I then flipped my fabric over so the right side was facing down.  On my two straight edges (not the angled ones) I drew a line with pencil 1/4 of an inch from the edge.  Don't skip this, it's important.

This next part is where I got a little creative.  Let's talk a bit about supplies.  Most people I've seen do this tutorial have one of those handy self healing green mats, a rotary cutter and a nice long, clear ruler.  I have none of those things.   I was now going to have to measure lines all across my fabric making them equal width and it was going to require me to do a ton of measuring and then drawing straight lines, no good when what I used for the above step was a picture frame as my straight edge.

I did a little thinking and came up with this...

This is cardboard, cut the the width I wanted my finished bias tape and taped together to make a nice long, straight line.  It worked perfectly!  I lined my cardboard up with the edge of my angled fabric and drew a line in pencil all the way down. 

Then I moved the cardboard over using my pencil mark as my new straight edge and drew a new line.  I did that all the way across my fabric so I had a bunch of diagonal pencil marks.  The last row probably won't be wide enough so just cut off that extra.

Okay, that was the easy part, here's where things start to get tricky.

You now have the two straight edges where you drew your 1/4 inch mark and a bunch of diagonal lines that cross the first line, right?  On one of those lines, doesn't matter which, start with the first diagonal line in your seam allowance write a number 0.  Then on the next line a number 1 and then a 2 and so on until all the lines are numbered.  On the second straight edge that you haven't numbered yet start with a 1 and then a 2 and so forth.  I drew a handy little picture for you to look at.

Your numbers would be in the seam allowance or if you're better than me you may not even need to write them.  Now take your fabric and you're going to put right sides together lining your 1, up with your 1.  Ignore the 0!  Super important!  Then line your 2 up with your 2.  You want to make sure once you sew on your seam allowance line that your diagonal lines all match up.  It was here that I discovered that I had tended to stretch my fabric a bit while drawing my lines so one side was wider than 2 inches.  once pinned together my lines weren't matching up well at all so I had to go back and re-draw some of my lines, definitely worth the effort. 
This step makes for a crazy tube of fabric but just go with it.

Once you're all pinned go ahead and sew on that first seam allowance line you drew.  Here's what you end up with.  See the little point sticking out on it's own?  That's because of the 0 you skipped.  This is where you start cutting.

Now I got to the scary cutting part where there was no going back.  I trusted I'd done it right and started cutting on my pencil line following it all the way around.

I had been mildly concerned that I wouldn't have enough bias tape, I needed about 4 meters... this little pile of bias tape that came from 1/2 meter of fabric (oh yeah, minus 5 1/2 inches that I cut off for something else) made 11 meters of bias tape.  That's right, 11 meters.

Here's where I made a very sad discovery.  I had made my tape 2 inches wide thinking it would be nice and wide and look nice but it was now that I discovered that 2 inches is much too wide to use my bias tape maker.  It does all the folding for you so you only have to press once.  Instead I had to stand and fold 11 meteres of fabric, pressing 4 different times.  So sad but it worked.  So there's my biggest tip, make sure your tape isn't too fat to fit through your bias tape maker.

Here's my finished roll of tape, waiting for the rest of the carseat project to move forward.

Good luck with your bias tape project, I hope your as successful as I was.


Jolayne said...

Your cardboard straight edge was brilliant. I may use one next time even though I have a self-healing mat and the fancy ruler. I think it would prevent me from measuring to the wrong line on the fancy ruler (yes, I've done that!). Great job!

Green Willow Pond said...

Thanks for a great tutorial. I've bookmarked it! I'm a new follower too :)