Monday, September 19, 2011
Bias Tape 101: What is it? What is it good for?
What is it?
Bias tape is your best friend, if you don't like finishing edges. Bias tape, also known as bias binding; is a narrow strip of fabric that has been cut on the bias of the fabric. In other words, it is cut at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge edge of the fabric. It is then folded in to the center, so there are no raw edges. There are two types of bias tape, single fold and double fold. Double fold bias tape is simply bias tape that has been folded in half. This is the most popular type of bias tape, and what I like to use on most everything I sew.
Bias tape has been gaining in popularity lately, but it is not a new notion. It has been around for a long, long, time. At least as far back as the late 1800's. Bias tape has been available to purchase commercial since 1917, when it was first marketed by Wm. E. Wright & Sons, the same company that carries this wonderful invention to sewers everywhere today.
What is it good for?
What isn't it good for, might be a better question! It is good for EVERYTHING! I first started using bias tape to bind quilts. Then I really came to love and appreciate it when I started sewing aprons a few years. A good apron always uses plenty of bias tape! It can be used on dresses, skirts, just about any clothing item, as well as tablecloths, hot pads, and other hand made items.
One thing that makes it so useful, is that it can curve and move easily around the fabric, because of the way it is cut. Not only is it great for hemming and edging, but it is very decorative as well. A nice contrasting bias tape gives a great vintage feel to anything you sew. It can be used to hide raw edges or it can be used purely as decoration. It's like ribbon or rick rack, only better!
Where do I get it?
Are you convinced yet that you must try bias tape? You now have two options; run down to your local fabric store and purchase a couple of packages. Or, make your own. It's really not that hard, but it is a bit time consuming, especially if this is your first time. If you are making an apron for your best friend's birthday tomorrow, you should probably just go buy some for now, and try making your own later.
If you choose to buy it, you can starting playing with it right away. However, the selection will be limited. Also, commercial bias tape usually has a high polyester content, so it's a bit stiffer, and just doesn't have as much of a vintage look and feel. The biggest advantage to making your own is that you can make it from any fabric, cotton, silk, rayon, linen, anything. It will match perfectly with all your sewing projects. And you can make it in a variety of sizes. Now you all want to go make some, right?