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I admit…I’m a little bias about bias. As someone who has spent the better part of their life involved in sewing and quilting, I absolutely love bias tape. For so many patterns, projects and quilts, a coordinating or contrasting binding can really add a lovely and distinctive finishing touch.

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No one actually knows the exact date of origin of bias tape. However, it first began to gain widespread popularity in the late 1800s when the streets were unpaved and women’s skirts were to the ground, requiring a durable, finished hem. In fact, it’s generally agreed that the first published mention of bias occurred in The Ladies Home Journal in 1898.

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As with all fashion items, the more something is seen, the more popular it becomes. In 1917, Wm. E. Wright & Sons began to market bias tape for a significantly broader set of uses – children’s dresses, summer dresses, aprons, and more – and sewers began to flock to his wide array of bias tape (note: this success even caused the company to move and expand his production line). Amazingly, the Wright brand is still around today supplying bias to new generations of sewers throughout the world.

As many of you know, I am an avid (read obsessed) collector of vintage sewing ephemera (Check out the Vintage Workshop’s sewing and needle arts to see a few). Over the years, I have been lucky to add several of the Wright bias samples to my collection. Above is a piece from my collection, their wonderful chart they used to sell bias.

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When I was researching my latest book, Vintage Notions, I came across a fair amount of references to bias and bias instruction in correspondence from The Woman’s Institute to their students. In their own words:

“[bias] is capable of supplying many needs in the development of gifts, wearing apparel or distinctive household furnishings. Though much used on small articles, their cost is low enough to permit their use as finishes on such large surfaces as bedspreads, curtains, and table covers, for both the edgings and the trimming details.”

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As the quote from The Institute above mentioned, being creative with bias isn’t just relegated to clothing. In fact, two of our most popular patterns we sell at Indygo Junction, the Thread Ready Pincushion and the Grommet Wallet both use bias in extremely attractive and creative ways that really add to the items.

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Bias samples from Indygo Junction “Lucy & June” apron pattern (IJ824)

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Bias samples from Indygo Junction “Jane & Sally” apron pattern (IJ825)

Speaking of creative uses for bias, take a look at the these apron images above. These two aprons, one for grown ups, the other, children, are two of our most popular patterns…do you think it’s because there are so many creative uses for bias with them? And these examples just barely scratch the surface of what you can do. (Note: If any of you want additional information on either of these aprons, you can click on the pictures above).

So…if you’re not using bias tape, why not? Remember, you can easily just go out and buy it and you’re ready to go. Or, if you’re willing to put in a little effort, you can actually make your own! While making your own is a tad bit more difficult, the payoff can be greater, as you can custom coordinate your bias binding with fabric of your own choosing. Just in case you need help with your decision, we’ve produced an instructional video for you on how to make your own bias tape. You can view it over in the Learning Section by just clicking here.

So tell me: how many of you are using bias? Tell me your favorite use, even send a link to a pic, and we’ll draw 5 winners to receive your choice of the patterns above.

Thanks for letting me share my love (obsession) for one of my favorite vintage notions with you!

~ Amy

Amy Barickman is the founder and owner of Indygo Junction, The Vintage Workshop and AmyBarckman.com. She is a leader in the sewing, needle arts and retail crafting industry having sold more than two-million sewing patterns and published 80 books sold throughout the world. Her recent endeavor is the book “Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun”, is already on its third printing since its release in September of 2010. Other best-selling titles include: “Indygo Junction’s Button Ware” and, most recently, “Hankie Style”.

68 Comments

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    Mar 27, 2011, 02.20 PMby shereesews

    Charming article…. makes me want to play around with some bias trims on projects! I enjoyed this very much, thanks for the inspiration and a bit of history!

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    Mar 11, 2011, 03.59 PMby icedivastar

    I use bias tape to edge skirts.

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    Mar 11, 2011, 03.32 PMby suebee2

    I love using bias tape. I make my own to get the color I want. Indigo Junction patterns are well written with the directions easy to follow.

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    Mar 10, 2011, 06.41 PMby daxette

    I love using bias tape, I use it for quilt bindings, as well as for sleves and necks on shirts. I love that you can contrast or make it to match.

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    Mar 10, 2011, 04.48 PMby picknstitch

    I love bias and use it a lot to finish seams, but it wasn’t until recently I learned the trick of cutting bias strips from a sewn tube, like your video demonstrates. It was one of those “DUH” moments, so easy and I never thought of it! Thanks for sharing, Amy!

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    Mar 10, 2011, 02.50 PMby sammi357

    Quilters use bias bindings all the time to finish the edges of our quilts. Most recently, I created bias to make a decorative edge on pockets for a tote bag.

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    Mar 10, 2011, 01.35 PMby cweeks

    I LOVE bias tape I use it on EVERYTHING. I love the special feet you can use to make applying it SO much faster and easier.

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    Mar 10, 2011, 12.59 PMby carolsaucier

    I too love bias tape and make my own. I do a lot of sewing for my granddaughters and they love the look achieved with match bias. I also make heirloom style night wear and exclusively use my homemade bias. I make yards of it at a time to use at later dates. As you showed bias makes great accents on our retro aprons. Thanks for sharing.

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    Mar 10, 2011, 12.06 AMby dstitchgal

    Love bias for lots of baby items I make. Love to cut my own for the variety available. Your tips are great!

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    Mar 9, 2011, 04.18 PMby moorjenn

    I heart bias tape! I look for almost any excuse I can find to use it. First, because it makes my life easier. No hemming or fussy finishing if I don’t want to bother, finish with bias tape! Need a splash of contrast? Bias tape! Does a facing sound like too much work? Bias tape! If only you could use it to fix a flat tire and figure out what’s for dinner…

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.12 PMby catran

    I like how bias tape can make finished projects look so clean and add some fun to a pattern. I have a bias tape maker but only used it once so far. This blog post is so inspiring.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.04 PMby polliwog

    I have started making tshirt quilts and making my own extra-wide bias binding (about 2" finished) for the outer edges. AND I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE IT!!!! Bias tape is a really easy way to add design punch for tons of stuff!

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    Mar 9, 2011, 01.36 PMby caelum224

    I have used it to finish purse openings and other small projects. i also made my own to cover edges on my wedding dress and a veil.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 09.10 AMby tungufoss

    I’m totally bookmarking this page! Thanks!

  • Holy_large

    Mar 9, 2011, 09.10 AMby tungufoss

    I’m totally bookmarking this page! Thanks!

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    Mar 9, 2011, 09.00 AMby olg

    bias rocks would LOVE to win thanks for the inspriration

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    Mar 9, 2011, 07.32 AMby dlebrun

    I think bias tape finishes things off so nicely. I never thought to trim a pocket with it tho, the pictures are awesome.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 05.35 AMby 5294sandras

    I like to make my own bias tape because it adds a professioanl finish to my projects. Check out my chicken and teapot potholders.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.12 AMby QCDesigns

    I ALWAYS make my own bias binding. I hate the store bought kind. Cut your fabric using the continous bias binding technique and you’ll be done in a snap.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.08 AMby mcee

    I have only used bias for necklines but I can see that I will have to change my attitude and try other things.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.05 AMby ribbonsundone

    I started making my own bias tape using the handy dandy Clover bias tape maker tool just over a year ago. I will NEVER buy store made again! Thanks for the demo with the “tube.” Saves a lot of time!

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    Mar 9, 2011, 03.02 AMby sandhyasudhir

    I use bias tape for binding many things. I bought a little gadget to make bias tape many years back and use it all the time to make my own bias tapes. I have the gadgets for two sizes. It is great gadget. I love the bias tape flower that is shown in the second photo on the pillow cover corner.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 02.26 AMby momof11

    Most often I use bias for binding quilts. But I have used it to finish the hem of a skirt I cut-off for my daughter, to trim aprons, finish armholes and necklines so there are no facings to deal with tucking in/hanging out!

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    Mar 9, 2011, 02.05 AMby cuppiecakes83

    I dont use bias tape very much. Ive been wantint to make my own, but havent wanted to buy a big piece of fabric just for tape.

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    Mar 9, 2011, 01.29 AMby sertyan

    I use bias tape to finish off the collars and sleeves.

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    Mar 8, 2011, 11.21 PMby ayofemi

    I make my own bias tape and weave it through sweaters that I have knitted.

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    Mar 8, 2011, 10.48 PMby alimeag

    Lately I’ve been using bias tape to make burp cloths! They’re a great, home-made gift for my friends having babies and the bias tape finishes them off nicely!

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    Mar 8, 2011, 10.39 PMby missusc

    My next project will be an apron for doing my daily domestic duties in. I would have used bought bias but now I might just make my own!

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    Mar 8, 2011, 09.48 PMby bezmommy1

    I love using bias tape for hems, pockets and for little accents. I have a lot of vintage bias tape but now I’m going to try making my own :)

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    Mar 8, 2011, 09.20 PMby maryzoom

    I love bias tape – I actually have a collection of vintage bias tape. The colors are so beautiful and it is fun to watch the changes in color styles and preferences over time. However, that said, I generally make my own. That way I can customize my project exactly.

    Also, thank you for the history of bias tape – Fascinating!

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