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Topic: Help a beginner understand bias tape  (Read 956 times)
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oceanshell
« on: June 08, 2011 03:59:00 AM »

Hello everyone,
I'm a beginner when it comes to sewing (a couple weeks), and I have questions about bias tape and working with knits/stretchy fabric.

First, I keep reading about bias tape, and I understand that it's when you cut fabric 45 degree diagonally.. but what is the big deal about it? Maybe I'm not understanding what it is, so what does it do, why is it specific to 45 degrees, how is it different? At first, I thought bias tape was just another word for ribbon, but I've figured out that they are not interchangeable..why?

Second, I have a sewing book for beginners, and the author suggests staying away from knits. Is it because they're stretchy? I've already attempted at working with them (I just figured out what exactly a knit is, so it wasn't on purpose  Tongue). Are you supposed to stretch out stretchy fabrics when working with them?

Thanks =]
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Antidigger
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2011 06:01:27 AM »

The big deal about bias tape is this: Bias tape will go round curves without having to be folded.
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Aislynn
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011 09:24:31 AM »

Hi there!  First, there's a difference between "bias" and "bias tape".  Bias tape is fabric strips cut on the bias, which is 45 degrees to the grain of the fabric.  The strips are usually folded in and pressed.  Bias cut fabric, when it's not cut up into strips, usually has a little stretch to it, and has a little swing to it.  You can tell the difference really easily by looking at two A-line skirts, one cut on the bias and one cut straight.  Bias tape is used to bind edges or make hems, or can even be used for straps.  It comes in single fold and double fold, or you can make your own.

Ribbon is woven as a single strip of fabric on the straight grain, where even commercial bias tape is cut and joined.  Ribbon can be used instead of bias tape in some cases, but it's not often recommended.

For your second question, knits tend to be a little more finicky, and if you don't know how to work with them, you may get frustrated or disappointed.  That said, if you research them a little bit, there's no reason NOT to use them!  They're great!  Some of the first things I made were with knits, because they're pretty forgiving.  They're mostly used for clothing and costumes.  You don't want to use them for bags or purses.  You want to use a ballpoint needle, a zig zag or stretch stitch, and hold the fabric taught, but not stretched all the way out.
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oceanshell
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011 02:22:50 PM »

The big deal about bias tape is this: Bias tape will go round curves without having to be folded.

Oh.  Undecided


Hi there!  First, there's a difference between "bias" and "bias tape".  Bias tape is fabric strips cut on the bias, which is 45 degrees to the grain of the fabric.  The strips are usually folded in and pressed.  Bias cut fabric, when it's not cut up into strips, usually has a little stretch to it, and has a little swing to it.  You can tell the difference really easily by looking at two A-line skirts, one cut on the bias and one cut straight.  Bias tape is used to bind edges or make hems, or can even be used for straps.  It comes in single fold and double fold, or you can make your own.

Ribbon is woven as a single strip of fabric on the straight grain, where even commercial bias tape is cut and joined.  Ribbon can be used instead of bias tape in some cases, but it's not often recommended.

Hmm, okay. So is ribbon not generally used in sewing then? I was planning on sewing some homemade bias tape onto the hems of a shirt I'm [attempting to] reconstruct. Cheesy I just wasn't sure *why* it couldn't be ribbon.. so basically it's just easier right?


For your second question, knits tend to be a little more finicky, and if you don't know how to work with them, you may get frustrated or disappointed.  That said, if you research them a little bit, there's no reason NOT to use them!  They're great!  Some of the first things I made were with knits, because they're pretty forgiving.  They're mostly used for clothing and costumes.  You don't want to use them for bags or purses.  You want to use a ballpoint needle, a zig zag or stretch stitch, and hold the fabric taught, but not stretched all the way out.

Alright, thanks Smiley I broke apart an old knit sweater to convert into my sewing machine cover, and it seemed to stretch on its own under the needle! You just gave me confidence to keep trying with the knits Cheesy

Thanks a lot guys, that was a lot of helpful information!
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011 02:33:50 PM »

Ribbon is used mostly for decoration or as a drawstring in casings.  It tends to be a pest to sew on, unless you're just top stitching it on for pretties.  If you want to MAKE a hem with it, like sew it on, fold it under, and stitch, you really want bias tape.  That method doesn't show the bias tape on the finished side of the fabric.  Likewise, if you want to bind a raw edge of fabric, bias tape is way, way easier (and often neater) than ribbon.

And OH!  There are two kinds of knits.  There's the sort that's accomplished by knitting needles (or a knitting machine) and this is the sort that leads to sweaters and afghans.  Then there's knit fabric, which is fabric constructed in such a way as it stretches.  You can sew both, but you treat them differently.  For a sweater knit, you want to steek it, which is to say, sew two lines parallel to each other on either side of the line you want to cut, prior to cutting, so the material doesn't unravel.  Then you can re-sew however you want.
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oceanshell
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011 06:01:23 PM »

Thank you very much, that is helpful advice that I will be keeping in mind!

Do you have any advice for knit fabrics too?

Thanks again Cheesy
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