Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bias strips made easy!

This tutorial is how I learned to toss out the crumpled corner

And proudly welcome THIS delicious smoothness!

The only thing I changed was the way I cut my bias strips :)

Is it just me or does anybody wish that sewing books and patterns were written in plain English?? I have to admit that I still feel as confused as a mole in broad daylight when I try to teach myself new stuff, so I often glance over things that seem easy enough to figure out...

Let me tell you about my most recent adventure with bias strips and how I learned (again) why it's important to read the directions first, so that after you are almost finished with your entire cushion you don't end up having to scrap it, because Mr. Crumple Corner just wouldn't go away...

It all comes down to one tiny over sight. The Bias Strip. These were one of those lovely things that made me feel as sharp as a circle when I thought I was the only sewer smart enough to skip the hubbub and just cut really longs strips. Let me tell you, there is a reason most "sewers" don't just do that!!

A bias strip is a thin strip of fabric that is cut on the bias (or diagonal line) used to finish edges or in my case, to wrap around cording to make piping for my patio cushions.

The "bias" was the key that I was missing in my own looooong strips of fabric you see. The reason quilters and other sewers use bias strips is that they're cut along the material that has the most stretchability so that it easily bends smoothly around corners like this:

Funny how I thought I was taking the easy way out before, because once I learned this way to make them I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was!! And what a difference!

Here's how I did it:

Step 1. Cut a square piece of fabric. In this case I used 21 x 21 inches.

Step 2. Fold the corners together to make a big triangle, make sure the edges match up perfectly (cut any excess fabric if you need to), and finally cut along the folded line to make two smaller triangles.

Step 3. Lay the two triangles together so the tip of each hypotenuse (diagonal line) touches the right angle corner of the other triangle. Like so:

Step 4. Pin and sew a 1/4" seam to attach the two triangles along this edge. Unfold and press your seam open. This is very important so your bias strip wraps or folds smoothly.

Step 5. Using your ruler and fabric marker (or chalk like I do) mark a line across the width of your parallelogram about 1 1/2" apart. You can adjust this for smaller or wider bias strips. Starting with my 21 x 21 inch square I was able to draw 9 lines.

Step 6. After all of the lines are drawn, wrap the parallelogram around to match up the lines from the opposite side skipping the first mark. Again, it is very important to skip the first mark so that a continuous strip can be cut.

Step 7. Almost done! Pin the tube together and sew another 1/4" seam. Make sure to press the seam open as well.

Step 8. Last, but not least, simply cut along the marked lines so that you create one very long strip.

If you're using the bias strip for piping, all you'll need to do is fold it in half once and press to create a pocket for the cording.

If you're creating decorative trim for a quilt or another garment you can hide the raw edges by first pressing a small seam on each side and then folding in half to crease.

And that's all she wrote! Finally :)


  1. I really need to have a bias day just to learn this.

  2. No, really, it is actually so easy! Now that I've done it a few times I can do it almost just as fast as it took me to measure out and cut my ridiculously long strip of fabric in a straight line.

    I don't love that you have to have seams in the strip, but doing it this way makes a huge difference. Part of me wants to re-do the 4 cushions I made before I learned this... but then I remembered that I barely have time to sew the 12 so I only tossed out the worst one.

  3. brilliant tute. This is how I do it but only after going thru countless confusing resources to figure it out (and I have many of my own bias-gone-wrong tales!). You will help many, no doubt, with this. I am happily following you...great stuff here :)! (p.s. found you via Crafterhours skirt week)


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