Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making tiny bias stems

Eek, I just wrote this post and lost it before posting. So I will give this another go.
LE part 4 was released yesterday, a delightful surprise as it was a day early. After looking at the pattern I decided to try a new bias making tool to see if I could easily make those tiny stems. I have used the Clover bias makers for years but they don't make a 1/8 size so I have used other techniques when I need a tiny stem. A few months ago I ran across the Simplicity tool at my local Joann's. It is a tip for the Simplicity bias maker machine but I thought I would try it. My first attempt was not too successful but this time I was more motivated and I figured out how to make it work. These tips will work with bias makers of any size but are especially important for the tiny ones.

Here are the various bias makers and the finished stems. The widest one looks uneven but it isn't - blame my lousy photography skills.



First you need to cut bias strips. Very important that they are on the bias if you want the stems to curve. Usually the strips are cut at twice the finished width but for the tiny strips I found that this was not quite big enough. I ended up cutting them just slightly wider than 1/4 in. Only bigger by about 1/16 inch but it helped.



I then sprayed the strip with Mary's Best Press (you could use starch). When I am making a bunch of these I put the strips in a Baggie and spray into the Baggie til all the strips are damp. This is much easier and less messy than doing them one at a time and the bag keeps them damp while I am working.



Before inserting the strip into the tool I press the end of the strip until dry. This stiffens it so that it is easier to push through the bias maker. It is also important that the end of the strip is cut into a point.



I also need to have a pin handy as it is used to help push the fabric along. The fabric is inserted between the pink plastic and the metal at the wide end and then using the pin I coax it along towards the tip.



Here is where it gets tricky. This tip has a long pointy end and the fabric just starts getting stuck. I found that if I used the pin on the underside I was able to just push it out the end. Again, kinda tricky but doable!



And I pull the end out a bit to start the pressing.



Well maybe a bit more than that. Start pressing while gently and slowly pulling the tool away from the ironing moving the iron along with the tool. It is very important to keep the fabric centered at the wider end so that both sided of the stem will be turned under. I found this worked much better if I went quite slowly.



And that is it. A nice little stem ready to be stitched.



And after about an hour I had this pile of stems ready for LE. Next post I will show you how I used them.



Happy stitching!

17 comments:

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I use the bias clover tips also, so far I have embroidered the stems on LE but I haven't started part 4

Carole~Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus said...

Thanks for the great post on bias strips. So sorry to hear about your back problems on your last post, I hope all goes well for your surgery this week.

Joyce said...

That looks brilliant. I'm not keen on doing embroidered stems so I would very much like to give this a try. Does anyone know if they are available in the UK?

Brandie said...

Wow! good to know! I'll be on the look out for one because I've obviously been doing bias strips wrong for a long time.

Missie of Hallbrook Designs said...

Wonderful to know there is a 1/8" bias stip maker! I never knew that. I will be getting one of those, just in case I need it! I have done the 1/8" strips by hand and at time, they can be wobbly and too full. Can't wait to get one of those! Thanks for the great tute!

shannon said...

i,too, didn't know they made a 1/8" strip maker!! i will definitely have to find one!!

and thanks for mentioning that you starch the beginning tip and press it dry before running it thru the maker. that has always been a problem for me! THANKS!!

Carrie P. said...

thanks for sharing a new way to make super tiny bias.

Janet said...

So interesting! I've made lots of 1/4 inch bias strips - I can't imagine 1/8 - wow that's small!! I can't wait to see your LE progress :0)

Rachaeldaisy said...

That is very skinny binding!! I love bias makers. It's magical that a simple little tool works so well. Your tip of spraying into a baggie is so handy, thanks for sharing that!!

Miriam said...

Thank you for the tips about the 1/8 inch bias strip maker. I didn't know there was a bias maker that tiny.
I haven't used Best Press for making bias strips before either..
Thank you.

Sally Bramald said...

Well done you, I have found these bias makers a bit hit and miss. Perhaps I am just going too fast?

Every Stitch said...

I have found bias makers a great tool though have never used starch. What a good idea to spray into a bag! Must look out for this tiny 1/8 inch one - never seen one so small !
Hilda

Cissa K said...

thank you for let us know about the 1/8" tip. I did not know about it. I also do what you do. I love my bias tape and I also spray in a bag. When I am done, I roll the tape on a paper tube (from a toilet paper), it keeps nice and flat and the curve of the roll helps when shaping the tape on the quilt top. Thanks again. I am loving your quilt. I will start mine LE next year.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- I didn't know they made the bias maker that small -- thanks for the tips! Can't wait to see all the posts for this next part of LE -- it's really getting fun now!

Donna~~ said...

Thanks for all the tips! Those are skinny, skinny stems! I'm looking forward to seeing your part 4. Hope Thursday goes well for you!

Victoria said...

Spray the tiny bias strips in a bag!!! GREAT idea! Really got a lot out of this lesson. Thanks1

JanetL said...

I really like the bias tape makers and saw, but was unsure of, the simplicity one. The tip to keep the sprayed strips in a baggie is great. I dislike spraying onto the strips while they lay on the ironing board and this is the perfect answer.