I've been sewing for a long time and for most of that time I have had FOBT (Fear Of Bias Tape). If a pattern called for bias tape, I either avoided it or attempted to figure out a way around using it. Then, about 2 years ago, my daughter asked me to sew a pillowcase dress for a friend and, since I had never made one before, I got on the internet to see what the basics were for these dresses. During this process, I discovered 2 things: most pillowcase dresses all look alike and that I don't particularly care for them for several reasons: 1) they are boxy-looking, 2) they have drawstrings (kids pull them out to play with plus they are no longer allowed in commercially-manufactured children's clothing) and 3) they have bias tape. So I set out on a quest to design my own.
The dress I came up with eliminated the drawstring and some of the boxiness that you get in the average pillowcase dress. I did find a couple of options to replace the need for bias tape but I found that I disliked the look of these options even more than I did the look of the bias tape. To offset having to use it, I decided to customize it and make my own. As a result, since I took out the features that make it a true pillowcase dress, I renamed it and the Kasie Sundress was born. Depending on the size (I mostly make sizes 2-7), each dress only takes one itty bitty piece of bias tape that ranges between 16 and 26 inches long. I could easily deal with making one small piece, right?
So, how hard could it be to make a strip or two of bias tape? All you have to do is cut a strip of fabric, iron it in half, then fold and press both edges in to the middle, then press it all again when you are done. This really isn't hard...unless you are making a lot of dresses all at once. In my case, when I was experimenting and promoting these dresses, I was making anywhere from 6-10 dresses a week (22 was my largest batch). So, although it's not hard to make bias tape all manually, it's very time consuming and you burn your fingers a lot.
I ended up using the manual method for quite a long time. I had actually found the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker machine but was concerned about some not-so-great reviews, so I put that purchase aside for the moment (bought it at a later date and reviewed in a previous post). I did, however, find the Clover bias tape making tips and was considering purchasing some of those but was really confused about the size I needed. I decided to buy just one size and see how it worked before investing in multiples (they are a little pricey for what you get). Since my bias tape for my dresses uses a 2" strip of fabric, I bought a 2" tip. WRONG...it's HUGE! I was disappointed and put it aside. Then, at Hobby Lobby a week or so later, I came across a set of three tips made by Singer. I paid about the same for this set as I did for the one Clover tip (and there isn't much difference).
These tips are awesome and they pretty much cut my bias-tape-making time at least in half. You thread your fabric strip through the tip and it folds the sides in all nice and neat and even and you press it down as it's coming out the other side. This eliminates the manual folding in of each side (the hard part). You still have to fold it in half and press it, but that part is easy.
Now, as with almost anything, there is a learning curve to using these tips. First, it takes some coordination...you are pulling, holding the tip, and pressing all at the same time. You also can only pull the strip through a little bit at a time or it just unfolds, so you are pressing only the area (about the width of your iron) that comes out of the tip. I have read reviews from a lot of people who do not like using these tips for this reason. If you are one of these people, please try again because I've come up with a cheat!
Here is my simple cheat for using the bias tape maker tips: S.....T.....R.....E.....T.....C.....H your strip! It's as easy as that! I needed to free up my hands from having to hold the fabric so I decided to pin it to my ironing board. After threading the fabric through the tip and pressing the end to get it started, I pin it to the end of my ironing board. I take the other end of my strip and stretch it down my ironing board and pin the other end. Now my hands are free to pull and press - no more having to hold the fabric, tip, and iron all at once. Plus, stretching the fabric makes it fold more evenly (you can give it a good stretch, but don't tighten it up too much or it will lose it's shape), .
So if you tend to use a lot of bias tape or you just want that custom look of matching your fabric, these tips are an inexpensive way to cut down on your bias-tape-making time. I've seen this little Singer set a lot of places now but you can definitely get them at Hobby Lobby. If they don't have them in stock, here is the link to buy them online. If you are interested the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker (that I highly recommend for high-volume bias tape making), and would like to see more about that, check out my prior post from 9/13/14 HERE.