I never realised the value of bias binding tape until I started using it more and more over the last year. The tipping point for me was when I purchased a pattern from Megan Nielsen. She uses bias tape instead of facings. For the last couple of attempts at the Darling Ranges dresses, I used store bought bias tape. As I intend to use bias tape instead of facings more in my future projects, I thought it was about time I made some of my own. Not only is it much cheaper, but you can make it out of much cuter fabrics which will make the use of the bias tape more of a cute suprise inside the garment rather than an obvious omission of facings.
I followed the tutorial in The Colette Sewing Handbook, using a square of fabric which you turn into a parallelogram. I used a thrifted pillowcase and made a 46cm square. The lines I drew on the fabric were a ok but it sewed together a little wonky. I thought I lined it up correctly, but as I was cutting the continuous bias strip out I noticed that it got more and more out of line. This meant that I often didn't have a perfect 1″ strip at one of the seams. I also forgot to press my second seam open, which probably led to extra bulk at that point in the bias tape.
I made over 7 metres of 1/2″ bias tape from that one 46 cm square, which is more than I thought I was going to get and maybe more than I'm going to need. A problem with this method might be how many and how close the seams are in the bias tape, but I guess that depends on how large or small you make your square.
The next tutorial I was going to try was the one from Prudent Baby. It is very similiar but used a half a yard (~45 cm for the metric crowd) of fabric selvedge to selvedge. But as I made so much just from a small square, I thought I would give it a miss and just try the same method again with a slightly larger square, paying extra attention to matching up the lines and sewing it using a very narrow seam.
And then come the fun cutting part! (Not really, my hand ached after this.) The extra time I spent drawing the lines and then aligning them all was worth it, as I ended up with a fairly consistant width bias strip all the way along.
I have two different sizes of the Clover Bias Tape Maker; the 1/2″ or 12 mm and the 3/4″ or 18 mm. So I thought I would try making the 3/4″. I've had the 3/4″ tool for a while and I can't even remember why I bought this particular size, as it is such an odd one, but it might be better for using as facings on slightly heavier weight fabrics. We will see. Using a 23″ square, I made over 6 metres of 3/4″ bias tape.
I did notice one difference between the two methods was how wide they tell you to make your bias strip. In the Colette Sewing Handbook it tells you to use twice the final width bias tape you want, and Prudent Baby say to use twice the width minus 1/8″. I'm not sure as to the reason for the difference, but as my bias strip is less than perfect, I'll stick with double the width. When lining the marks up, remember to offset them so you get one continuous bias strip and not a bunch of loops. I also learnt that if you are likely to be interupted by your children don't use an air eraseable pen to mark your lines or when you finally get a chance and come back to it you'll find your lines are gone. Whoops! And use a hot steamy iron to press your bias tape, or you'll find yourself going over what you've done.