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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

  • Missing

    Mar 8, 2011, 09.19 PMby embmimi

    I love bias tape – now! That is after I learned how to make my own. This is a link to my blog post about a mug mat swap I participated in. I made the one on the bottom. After I learned how to apply the bias binding around the mat, it was a breeze. I also plan to embellish some outfits for my granddaughter.

    http://prayersformymom.blogspot.com/2011/02/mug-mat-swap-revealed.html

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    Mar 8, 2011, 08.11 PMby grammaheh1

    I LOVE bias tape, and have used it on a variety of sewing items as it is so versatile. Aprons, hems, pockets, totes, pillows, pilowcases, crayon and toy car rollups, baby quilts and blankets, edging for curtains, sweatshirt jackets, all types of clothing, etc. are just some of the many items that I have used bias tape on. I also have some of the old printed bias tapes from Wright that I have used on my grandchildren’s items. There used to be so many more colors of bais tape than are available on todays market. Unfortunately, I have used up most of the bias tapes that I had accumulated in the now discontinued colors. There is nothing like bias tape to give an item a super finished look. Bias tape can really add pizazz to any item. Gail

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    Mar 8, 2011, 08.07 PMby braaains

    I use bias tape on all of the aprons I make – I prefer to make my own (as time-consuming as it is), because the store-bought (or, as we say in New Hampshire, ‘store-boughten’) kind tends to be a bit stiff for my tastes. Plus, if I make it, I can add really neat contrasting patterns to my aprons!

  • Burdastyle90pix_large

    Mar 8, 2011, 08.07 PMby braaains

    I use bias tape on all of the aprons I make – I prefer to make my own (as time-consuming as it is), because the store-bought (or, as we say in New Hampshire, ‘store-boughten’) kind tends to be a bit stiff for my tastes. Plus, if I make it, I can add really neat contrasting patterns to my aprons!

  • Burdastyle90pix_large

    Mar 8, 2011, 08.07 PMby braaains

    I use bias tape on all of the aprons I make – I prefer to make my own (as time-consuming as it is), because the store-bought (or, as we say in New Hampshire, ‘store-boughten’) kind tends to be a bit stiff for my tastes. Plus, if I make it, I can add really neat contrasting patterns to my aprons!

  • Missing

    Mar 8, 2011, 07.57 PMby exquisite

    I love bias tape on quilts and pillows, but i want to try putting it on dresses and things

  • Missing

    Mar 8, 2011, 07.56 PMby kdschafer

    I’ve used it on home decor projects mostly. I’ve had my daughter and the other sewers in our 4-H club make doll blankets using the extra wide binding. It is a quick project that boosts their confidence and gives them something to use with their American Girl dolls. I am going to make up some more potholders and coaster using bias tape. They make nice gifts.

  • Missing

    Mar 8, 2011, 07.39 PMby susan-claire

    I love bias tape! When my children were young I used to make vast quantities of bias to put around their bibs and other clothing, now I have progressed to quilts I use it for curved and unusual edges.

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    Mar 8, 2011, 07.36 PMby anitajoye

    I am taking a sewing class and she has us make our own bias tape all the time. I love it. :)

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    Mar 6, 2011, 03.18 PMby dreab

    I have never used bias tape before as it always seems so expensive here in Germany. Does anyone know how best to make it youself?

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    Mar 6, 2011, 01.34 AMby harrietbazley

    I bought some expensive satin bias tape for finishing off internal seams on a dress… however, I ended up cutting my own strips to cover most of the remaining seams! (Partly cost, partly convenience; commercial bias tape was a bit broad and clumsy for the next-to-zero seam allowances I was working on.)

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    Mar 6, 2011, 01.29 AMby michellebates83

    My Grandma gave me an apron pattern that uses bias tape and I love it. The one she gave me was made from newspaper that she cut out in the 50’s, and she doesn’t remember where it came from, but when it it finished it looks just like view D on McCalls 3979. I love it!

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    Mar 5, 2011, 05.03 AMby cynthia-1

    I must admit that i’ve really only used bias binding for edging sleeves and hems. All those bright pics have really inspired me to do something more fun with bias binding!

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    Mar 4, 2011, 07.53 AMby leonx

    i always use bias! it gives such a perfect effect awesome!

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    Mar 4, 2011, 02.57 AMby kelepso

    Great article and video tutorial. Thanks!

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    Mar 3, 2011, 10.50 PMby saffroncee

    My most favourite use of the bias tape has to be finishing the neck-line. I made my own bias tape with the coordinating fabric as the bias tape is one of the highlights of my design. ;) Pictures in http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y-aXAClSJrw/TWJGXMUpaUI/AAAAAAAAEgQ/9rw-ndy4YE/s1600/Ice_skatingtop1.jpg and http://craftinthepark.blogspot.com/2010/11/matching-night-gowns.html

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    Mar 3, 2011, 10.50 PMby saffroncee

    My most favourite use of the bias tape has to be finishing the neck-line. I made my own bias tape with the coordinating fabric as the bias tape is one of the highlights of my design. ;) Pictures in http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Y-aXAClSJrw/TWJGXMUpaUI/AAAAAAAAEgQ/9rw-ndy4YE/s1600/Ice_skatingtop1.jpg and http://craftinthepark.blogspot.com/2010/11/matching-night-gowns.html

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    Mar 3, 2011, 09.39 PMby bettyfloored

    I LOVE bias tape. who wants to make a hem when you can use ready made bias tape? I love to use it in my dresses, aprons, skirts, and even bags that I make. My favorite has to be the walkaway dress. It uses a whopping 9 yards of it! http://www.etsy.com/listing/64094281/custom-walkaway-dress

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    Mar 3, 2011, 08.50 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    I’ve some of the print Wright bias trims in my collections…too bad they don’t make these print ones now. At least you can make them yourself. Also, Indygo Junction patterns, I think, are sold at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.

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    Mar 3, 2011, 08.48 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    Bias is great stuff…be sure use the Clover bias-makers they are the most accurate of the ones on the market. You can also embelllish ready-made bias tape with contract thread and stitches on your sewing machine. Mac Berg at Vogue Fabrics has done various demos on this topic – Monday nights 7 pm. 1:30 p.m. FREE demos

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    Mar 3, 2011, 08.18 PMby vbugge

    I’ve used it for edging baby bibs and some home dec. projects, suddenly I feel like making an apron though. :-)

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    Mar 3, 2011, 04.57 PMby asf

    i’ve enjoyed using nice colorful bias tape to edge some bibs made out of clear vinyl. The vinyl didn’t NEED to be finished but the finishing and colorful touch is really helpful to turn them from utilitarian to useful and playful.

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    Mar 3, 2011, 12.50 PMby karinsi

    I love to use it on curved hems (necklines, collars, etc). For example I used it for the collar and bottom hem for my Mother of all projects-jacket (http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/mother-of-all-projects)

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    Mar 3, 2011, 12.22 PMby fashionfreek

    I have used nice black satin bias on some trousers or pants as some call may them. I used it to tidy up the bottom of the insides of the leg of trouser. Bias does make your garment to have a nice finish.

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    Mar 3, 2011, 07.44 AMby urbandon

    Just on hems…but I think that will change soon!

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    Mar 3, 2011, 07.23 AMby carmencitab

    I totally love bias, I use it a lot to do a Hong Kong finish on hems and unlined garments. And when I see a good pattern, I can’t pass it up. http://www.carmencitab.com/2010/04/sewing-for-two-kenzo-butterick-4969.html

  • Me_large

    Mar 3, 2011, 07.03 AMby jessdunstan

    I use bias tape on all my smocked dresses. It finishes off the sleeve edges and necklines so wonderfully even though it is a pain to make the tape!

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    Mar 3, 2011, 04.21 AMby Kelsey Edwards

    i have used bias tape lots (or bias binding as it is called in New Zealand). in my studio i used it for ‘LVT coin purse’ (http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/lvt-coin-purse), ‘woven small shoulder bag’ (http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/woven-small-shoulder-bag), and ‘apron and oven mits’ (http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/apron-and-oven-mits) it is great and now i have so much more inspiration for new projects, the threadready pincushion is too cute, it look sorta like a pie :P i love it, and all of the apron pockets are so sweet (: i always make it myself but dont use a bias tape maker i just need fabric, ruler, chalk, scissors and iron (: confession time, i didn’t know you had to cut it on the bias… i know how dumb that sounds… but i will have to definately do that next time!! lol

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    Mar 3, 2011, 03.33 AMby runningwithscissors1

    I was recently gifted a large amount of bias tape from someone who is downsizing. I have to admit, I have been intrigued, but aside from making a couple of doll blankets, have yet to find a use for it. Your post is giving me some inspiration to pull out the bags and start dreaming away…

  • Missing

    Mar 3, 2011, 03.24 AMby denise2003

    I have always loved bias tape! It is just so versatile. My favorite use so far is in binding together the edges of a wallet I designed and made years ago. It made the article very distinctive and solved a lot of potential problems, not to mention giving my hands a break! I didn’t have a sewing machine back then.

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