Friday, November 29, 2013

The Simplicity Bias Tape Maker

I was given one of these little gadgets for Christmas last year and its taken me almost a whole year to find the perfect project to make be break it out of the box.  The project, of course, is the Cherry Gingham Dress.

You may remember that when I was cutting out the dress I had a light bulb moment and also cut out a bunch of bias strips.  Well, yesterday I turned those strips into bias tape - and it was EASY and FUN!!!  I thought I'd share how easy it was with you just in case you want to put one of these little machines on your Christmas list.

Cut out the strips
I have no photos of me doing this bit - but I did have a photo in this post where I made piping.  All you need to do is cut out diagonal strips from your fabric, with the strips running at a 45 degree angle from selvedge to selvedge.  The strips need to be twice as wide as the tip you are using.  The machine comes with a 1" tip, so I cut my strips 2" wide.  Doing this on gingham was easy because of the checked pattern.

Sew the strips together end to end
Line the strips up so they make a right angled corner, and then sew diagonally across the corner.  The hardest thing about this step (on fabric that doesn't have an obvious right side) is making sure that all the seam allowances end up on the one side of the strip you are making.

Cut the corner
Cut the seam allowance down to 2/8ths of an inch or so on each join

I really need a new ironing board cover - this one is ugly...

Press the seam open
I think the hardest thing about this step is not burning your fingers...

Wrap the bias around the spindle
This bit was a bit of a brain strain.  You need to wrap it around the left hand end of the spindle with the fabric right side up in such a way that when you load it into the machine the fabric comes over the top of the spindle, not out of the bottom like it is in the photo.  Thankfully I worked out I was doing it wrong well before I got much wound on.  Depending on how much bias tape you are making, this can take a while.  I was making a fair bit, and my wrists were a bit sore by the time I'd finished winding, and the spool was so fat I had to take the grey foam out of the machine so it would sit in properly...

Put the spindle and the guide into the machine and poke the end of the tape through the tip
I used the 1" tip that came with the machine, mostly because I didn't want to buy a different tip if I didn't like the machine.  It was pretty easy to get the fabric through the tip.  I used my thumbnail in the slot to feed it through, but I'm sure you could use any number of things to do that if you don't have thumbnails.

Put the tape through the bit that irons it
That chunky cream coloured thing that the bias tape is running under in the photo lifts off really easily so you can pull enough tape through to have a few inches sticking out the other end.  This also gives you a bit of an opportunity to make sure everything is moving as it should.  One thing to double check is that the little stopper at the end of the rest (the tall thing next to the spool) is at the edge of the fabric to keep it in place.

Turn it on and wait for it to warm up
This took barely a minute, which gave me a minute to check the heat setting (there are lots of different options).  And when the light went green, I hit the run button!

Its making bias tape!
I'll admit it, I was pretty excited at this point.  The little motor started going and bias tape came out of the machine!!!  One thing to note is that I found it was a good idea to keep the tape coming out of the machine taut because it has a tendency to jam.  I found out because it happened when I was taking photos, but luckily I was able to clear the jam with the machine still running so I didn't ruin any of my tape.

And there you have it - SOOOOO EASY!!!  I wasn't sure I would like the 1" bias tape, because I usually use 1/2" bias tape...

But I've always liked the statement that a different coloured bias tape makes to a hem, so wider bias will make more of a statement I figure!  I pinned some on to the skirt so you can get an idea of what it will look like when its finished.  I'm so excited to sew it on now!!!

So I am totally in love with this little machine!  Do any of you have one?  Is anyone tempted to ask for one for Christmas?



  1. Holy smokes - I've never even sewn a wearable garment, let alone used bias tape but I MUST HAVE THIS MACHINE! Are they expensive?

    1. hahahaha! In Australia they retail for between $110 and $130. In the US the recommended retail price is $100.

      Currently there is a coupon for Spotlight (an Aussie fabric store) giving you $40 if you spend over $100, so its worth waiting for a deal like that to come out before you buy one :)

  2. How cool is that! Have you used it on slippery fabrics yet? Thats what I'm keen to hear about - would be great for all those lingerie patterns that want finishing in silk bias.

    1. No I haven't, but I've got some satin lying around, I'll run some through for you and see what happens :)

  3. You can also buy a little metal thing for very cheap that just folds the bias and you have to iron it yourself. I have one and it work very well

  4. In the US you can get one at Joann Fabrics for 55.00 usd.
    Have never used one, I just use the little ones you iron yourself, or occasionally just cut and iron with out anything to use as a guide...its a pain and time consuming but can be done.

    1. Thats good to know for my US followers - thanks Jill! I really enjoyed using this and when it was loaded in the machine it was super quick to get the bias made. And I've got HEAPS left over :)

  5. I'm getting to the point in my bias tape making world (of course, with Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder, I also quilt, knit, paint...) that one of those would come in handy.

    I just have to say though, that I love your staircase decorations. My husband would probably push me down the stairs if I did that though, he freaks out when I put something on the top step or the pony wall at the top of the stairs to go down to my sewing cave on the next trip.

  6. omg!! thanks for this. I've just got the biastape and piping maker and I was very disappointed when I used it for the first time as it kept getting stuck at the seams. I think, in comparison to yours, my seam allowances were way too big. I need to cut mine down to 2/8" like yours. I think it will work. I also had the same problem with the piping part of it too. Thanks