Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Homemade, ah-hem, I mean HANDmade bias tape.

I made my first entirely handmade sewing notion - colorful custom biased tape! At first, I was calling it homemade, because after all I did make it in my home. But then I did a bit of internet reading about the idea of homemade, and it turns out "homemade" has a negative connotation, whereas "HANDMADE" actually brings up warm fuzzy feelings. I think when people hear the word handmade they hearken back to days of yore when women quilted together in a quilting circle. Or perhaps the word inspires a bit of their inner damn-the-man attitude to surface, as they realize that something handmade did not contribute to corporate profit.

I for one support handmade because these are items created by an individual, for an individual, and each piece of work includes a bit of the maker's personality in the finished product. It is the same reason I bake my cakes from scratch rather than from a mix... the finished product reflects me, not the box. Of course, handmade items embody the personality of the maker as much as homemade items, it just doesn't sound as classy. The word choice a linguistic trick, because truthfully my bias tape is the same regardless of if I call it home or hand made. However I want it to sound as glamorous and impressive as possible, so my bias tape is definitely handmade.

I created it using one yard of 100% cotton quilting fabric covered in tiny flowers and gold accents. I used a series of pseudo-complicated instructions and diagrams that I found online under the title "How to make yards and yards of bias tape." Using the instructions, I marked, cut and sewed this yard long piece of fabric into an incredibly long strip of continuous fabric. I then used a newly acquired bias-tape making tool to fold and press the strip into the final product.

Unfortunately I was not very impressed by the biased tape tool. It was better than nothing, but seriously, shouldn't their be something better? You put a flat piece of bias cut fabric trimmed to fit into the wide end of the tape maker, and the tapering metal shape forces your strip to fold over as it exits the narrow end of the tool. However, for me the fabric did not seem to exit with much consistency. The folded edges were rarely, if ever, symmetrical in their folds. Sometimes the top would be very narrow, then it would reverse and the bottom fold would barely exist, then of course both sides would manage to fold in over each other. I mean come on now, is it too much for a girl to want a tool that provides consistency?!?!

My sewing instructor has pointed me to the brand "Clover" as a better bias tape maker, and I found a review of the brand and the process to back her up. She also showed me an old fashioned way to make the tape using only a long straight pin and my cloth covered ironing board. Looks like I have some experimenting to do.

Ultimately I think this is really the type of high quality bias tape that I am eager to duplicate. The lazy side of my personality is eager to just purchase it ready made. The problem is that I don't want to pay $8.50 for two meters. At that price, my bias tape might cost as much as my fabric! Perhaps a few more practice rounds of homemade, ah-hem HANDmade, tape will produce the highly uniform results of my dreams. Heck, if I am successful and get really inspired, perhaps I will open my own custom biased tape business like this one. I can offer colors and patterns to order, so that all of YOUR sewing dreams can be realized as well.

It took hours to iron the yards and yards of tape first into single fold bias tape, then again into double fold bias tape. However, I actually enjoyed it. I expected to find myself bored of the project after a few minutes, but instead I popped in a movie and ironed away. I found the precise folding and crisp ironing oddly therapeutic. Plus, holding the end result, a GIANT spool of bias tape of my personalized fabric, was VERY fulfilling!


Kelly said...

I would love to know how your sewing instructor folded bias tape with a straight pin and an iron. that might work better. I have a bias tape make I just tried last weekend.. what a joke, in the end I ended up doing it by hand. Very pretty bias tape by the way.

Anonymous said...

I love your pretty bias tape. I enjoy making bias tape but I'd really prefer to fast forward through the hours of ironing just to end up with the tape! I always manage to burn myself...

Frosted said...

From your picture, I see that you had the same bias tape maker that I just donated to Goodwill. I tried and tried, yet the bias tape never came out right. I bought the Clover one on a whim and realized that it was SO MUCH BETTER!

Happy sewing:)