Monday, January 21, 2013


Making stems and vines and even lettering is easy if you use bias tape.  It can add so much to a quilt to add a bit of simple applique, and bias tape is the SIMPLEST of all applique.  Here are a few examples of quilts with a bit of bias applique:

Around the Town
See the lettering on this quilt?  I made 3/8" bias tape and formed it into the letters.   Let me show you how it's done.  I use bias tape makers from Clover Notions.  They come in many sizes.

Berry Patch,  Cherry Lemonade DishTowels, and Cottage Bloom
First, cut your strips on the bias of your fabric.  That is...45 degrees from the grainlines.  In this example I am using a 3/8" bias tape maker, so I will cut my strips 7/8" wide.  No matter what size bias tape maker you use, double it and add a scant 1/8" to get the cut size.  That extra 1/8" gives just a little more fabric to make the folds.

Now spray your strips with starch.  This is very important because your folds will stay crisply turned.  Do this before you pass the strip through the bias tape maker because if you do it after, the moisture will undo the folds.

Feed the bias strip into the bias tape maker with the wrong side up.  If you press the end of the strip before you do this, it will dry the starch and make it stiff and easy to feed through.

Turn it over to the back side.  There is a little slot on the bias tape maker you where you can see your fabric.  Use a pin or awl to slide the fabric down to advance it all the way through and out the other side of the bias tape maker.
Now turn it back over with the wrong side of the strip facing up on the ironing surface.    Pin the end of the strip to the ironing surface to anchor it.

 Pull the bias tape maker to the left as you follow it with your iron.  Keep the fabric strip centered as it feeds through so it will fold the fabric edges over as you press.

That's all there is to it!  Now you have a strip of fabric made into bias tape.  You can shape it with your steam iron to make the curves and loops you need for your design.  For example, to make the letters for the Berry Patch quilt I showed you before, first make a copy of the letter guide.  Place the guide on your ironing surface press the bias tape right on the page following the outlines on the paper.

Once the letters are formed, take them to your quilt top and baste them in place using Jillily Studio Appli-Glue.  Then you can stitch them in place either by machine or by hand.  I usually stitch by hand, but all this lettering was done by machine!

Here is another example of using a shaping guide.  This is for the gate on my Secret Garden quilt.  I used narrower bias tape here--1/4" wide to make the parts of the gate.  I am using red bias here just to show you,

 but on the actual quilt I used a black print.  Be sure to glue baste everything in place to make it easy to stitch!

Secret Garden
Now you can see that making bias tape using your own fabrics can be very simple and add so much to your quilt.
I hope you find that this tutorial can make your quilting easier.

Oh, by the way, I was on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio today with Pat Sloan.  We had a nice chat.  If you want to listen, go to this link:
 Were you listening in today?
I hope so.


Rosa said...

Thanks for the tutorial.I sure will try this!!

paulette said...

Wow, Jill this tutorial was FANTASTIC!! Thank you so much!!

LJ said...

Hi, Jill, thank you so much for the tut. As always, you do a great job. Even though I've made my own tape with the tape makers, your photos and instructions were wonderful and I picked up a couple of great tips one being to cut the strip 1/8" wider. I listened to the radio show and enjoyed hearing your voice.
As ever,
LJ (Henry's Very M blog hop winner :)

Carrie P. said...

thanks for sharing how you do the bias. great idea to iron the bias along the pattern.

Debra Davis said...

I am just branching out into applique and learning how to use bias strips. I even designed a Christmas quilt for my brother that made use of a vine in the border. Thanks for the tips about using starch and laying out on top of a guide, I am inspired once again!

Outback Crafter - Debra said...

Hi Jill
Just popping over from Cindi's blog (Stitch, stitch, stitch). I saw what she did with your holiday lane. It was awesome when you did it, but how lovely to have let her give away a redwork patern. Thanks for sharing your talents and encouraging others too.

LJ said...

Hi, Jill. I am a follower of you and also of Cyndi at Stitch, Stitch, Stitch. She is sharing the redwork portion of your Holiday Lane pillow. Thank you so much for allowing her to make the redwork houses available to us. You're a super great lady and an outstanding designer! Thanks again.

Belinda said...

That is amazing! Thanks for showing us how you do that.

Jessica said...

Hi Jill,

I'm just catching up on some podcasts and head you speaking to Pat so came over to have a look. You certainly make bias strips looks super easy, I might just have to give some applique a go! Thanks for sharing.


auntchris said...

What did you do with the ends of each of the letters? How do they look so finished?

auntchris said...

How did you get the ends of each of your letters to look so nice?

Motherdragon's Musings said...

Wow, thank you so much for this, I am about to embark on a new project that uses one of these little gizmos.

Sheri said...

That is fabulous and inspiring-- hope to use this technique some day. I guess I'll have to buy the handy little bias tape maker.

Kits Corner said...

I've been cringing at trying to make the stems (first time to hand applique) I found your blog and your instructions are very clear and thank you for so many photos along the way!