Bias stripsBias strips are cut at an angle to the straight grain. Fold a square in half diagonally and press lightly. Line your ruler on this fold and cut strips the width you need. Remember to allow for the turns on both edges.

Irons are hot this may seem obvious but I have scorched my fingers making bias strips more often than any other technique. Have a bowl of cold water nearby and put the iron on the rest and dip your fingers in the water straight away if you get too hot.

Method One - Using a purpose made bias maker

Bias makerThese can be purchased in a variety of widths. You tuck the fabric into the holder and pull it through with a pin.

Hold the strip in place with a pin and pull the holder away with one hand whilst pressing with the iron with the other hand. It is important to work slowly to prevent the strip twisting

Method Two - Using pins

With pinsSimilar to the method above. This method is easier if you are working on a marked grid or board. Start the bias by folding by hand and then carefully pin over the top. The pin should be the exact measurement you want your bias strip to end up. Place another set of pins the width of your iron away. Carefully pull the fabric through keeping the iron in place. The fabric under the iron will get very hot after a while so keep taking a break to prevent scorching your ironing board cover.

Method Three - Using Bias Bars or Parcel Wrapping Tape

Bias bars are sold in packs containing a mixture of sizes. You can also use the thick plastic strip used for wrapping parcels or garden ties. Cut the fabric double the width of your bar plus 1⁄2in. Sew a 1⁄4in seam carefully. Put the bar inside your tube and twist the seam allowance to the middle. Press carefully, moving the inner support along as you go.

Method Four - Sew and Flip

Bias BarsCut the bias strips and fold in half. Sew to the background with the distance from your stitching to the fold being the critical measurement. Trim the fabric as close to the stitching as possible. Roll the bias strip over the sewing and catch in place with small invisible stitches. Using this method you can make very tiny strips. It is not as suitable for stained glass patterns.

Sewing Bias Strips

In traditional appliqué bias strips were sewn with small invisible hemming stitches by hand. If working by machine you can:

  • Zigzag or satin stitch along both sides
  • Straight stitch along both sides keep your presser foot on the centre of the bias strip and move the needle position to the far right or far left. This keeps the strip flat.
  • Blind hem stitch. This stitch has three or four straight stitches and then one zigzag stitch.

Sewing Bias strips

Practise

Work small samples using the different methods of making the strips and then test the different stitching methods. Keep in a safe place to refer to. When you see a project using bias strips you can adjust the instructions to suit the method you prefer.