Saturday, May 28, 2011

Making bias stems

Bias stems and I need  a lot of them!   Here's a couple of ways to create them.
First I cut a large triangle  (one half of a square) from the selected fabric. 
 Cut 1" strips along the bias edge.
While I am cutting, I also cut 1/4" slivers from a small piece of heat and bond light.  Set these aside for right now. 
  First method is using a bias tape maker.  What a neat tool, easy to use, and saves burned fingers. 
I lightly mist the fabric with spray starch before inserting the end of the fabric into the large end of the maker.  Guide the fabric thru and as it comes out folded, I pin the end  to the ironing board.  As you slide the maker to the left, use the tip of the iron to press in the folds.  Work in small sections to press.
  If you don't have a bias tape maker, you can create a pathway of pins---at least two  but 3 or 4 would be better--- to create a similar "tool".   This takes a little time to set up---you need to fold the fabric to the desired width by hand first---insert a pin into the ironing board cover and come out exactly beside the fold of the bias. 
Then the pin goes over the fabric and back into the board cover exactly by the other fold.
 It may take a couple of tries to get it right, but you should then be able to pull the folded bias thru the pin pathway and press the fabric as you pull it out the end on the right.    I hope that makes sense.

  Another option is to use bias press bars.  These are silicon strips that are heat resistant, and they come in lots of sizes.  I picked up this pack while in Virginia last year at the Fancy Gap Fabric shop for 59 cents! 
Anyway, this technique requires a bit of sewing and trimming the seam down.  Cut a bias strip ---about 1 1/2" wide.  Decide how wide you want your bias, say 1/4". 
Fold the fabric wrong sides together.  Then mark a stitching line from the fold that is just a  little bit more than that.  (Remember--You need to be able to slip the bar into the tube.)  
 Stitch and trim the seam allowance down to a scant 1/8".  Slip the bar into the tube, rolling the seam to the back.
 Begin to press the tube as you pull if off the bar.  This produces a bias stem that is a bit thicker, but still works well.

  Make the bias fusible.....remember the slivers of heat and bond from the first photo?  Now is the time to use them.  Fuse them to the back of the bias stems----just center the fusible strip to the back  and press.   This will provide enough fusible to hold the stems in place until sewn down.  On the 1/4" bias, you can use a double needle even.  Otherwise, a small straight stitch on each side works great, or get the looks of hand applique with a blind hem stitch, or button hole stitch.
  Which do I prefer.....the bias fold maker because there is less bulk and the stem is easier to fuse.   I will do a block with the sewn type bias and take a photo to compare. 
Happy stitching.

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