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Entries in Getting Started (16)

Getting Started: Bias Tape

Solid Coloured Bias Tape

Some of the Patterns


Chances are good that even if you haven't been sewing for very long, you still have a package or two of bias tape kicking around your home. It's a handy thing to have around: I've used mine for crafts, wrapping gifts, and in-a-pinch shoe laces. But what is bias tape really for?

Bias tape consists of woven fabric cut on the bias (or at a 45 degree angle) sewn together to form a long continuous strip. The raw edges are generally pressed down for a small seam allowance on each side, and then it is often pressed again in the middle to form "double fold" bias tape. When cutting woven fabric on the bias, you achieve a nice stretch, so that attaching it to curvy seams and edges creates a smooth finish. It's typically used as flat piping (or to cover corded piping), as a finish for interior seams, to create a finished hem, or as an arm or neck hole facing. Quilters often make their own to finish the edge of quilts-- though, I prefer to do a straight grain cut for quilt binding.

Some of the Print

Here at Bolt, we have made the transition from packaged bias tape to selling it by the yard. You can now purchase it in flexible amounts and it saves on packaging It used to be far more common to see packaged binding in a myriad of patterns and not only solid colours. Thankfully, manufacturers are moving back towards patterns! Of course, if we don't have exactly what you're looking for, it's easy-peasy to make your own. Clover makes a number of bias tape tools to help you get the exact seam allowance and to save your fingers from the hot iron.

Clover Bias Tape Makers

Here's a whole list of online tutorials to get you started making and using bias tape:

  • How to Make Bias Tape by one of our favourite local designers. The Colette blog also has some great tutorials on binding seams, and creating flat piping for the Ginger skirt. Heck, just search for "bias tape" on the blog and you'll quickly learn how to add a little Rouleau to your next garment.

  • The No Swearing Bias Tape Method by Miss Chicken. Amy also details creating continuous bias tape in her first book, Bend the Rules Sewing (a great project-based how-to book for folks getting their sewing start).

  • Karen creates beautiful interior seams for those of us with texture sensitivities or the desire to make heirloom quality clothing.

And a few posts where we profess our love for binding:

Softest Baby Blanket Ever
Party Bunting

Anna Maria Horner introduced patterned bias tape by the yard at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City. We put in an order for some and we'll let you know when it comes!

Getting Started: June Picnic Throw

June Picnic

In keeping with our series of project ideas for beginners, I give you the June Picnic Throw. It's a handy blanket measuring approximately 52" by 72", which is big enough to cover a small to medium picnic table or wrap up in at an outdoor concert. I love traditional gingham check for picnics-- especially red and white. This is a variation on that theme that is yelling for summer to come on over.

We're going to use:

  • 6 piece fat quarter pack. These prints all come from Henry Glass and Kaufman.

  • 2 yards of coordinating solids (the extra will be for binding)

  • 2 1/8 yard 54" or wider fabric. You can also piece the back from two 1 1/2 yard 44" inch or wider pieces of fabric.

  • You can choose whether or not you'd like to interline the throw with quilt batting (I did) or leave it on the thin side, which is just as nice for summer.

  • a skein of pearl cotton and a sharp needle with a large head. A curved upholstery need is handy but not necessary. 


First off, cut your fat quarters into 18" square and then in half again. You'll now have 12 rectangles measure 9" by 18". Keep the scraps. We'll use them to piece the binding. Now cut 12 rectangles 9" by 18" out of the coordinating solid.

Placing right sides together, sew one print and one solid down the longest side. Repeat until they are all done. Press open all seams.


Lay out your blocks. These blocks will now by 17 1/2" by 18" long and you can leave them this way, or you can trim them into 17 1/2" square blocks. If you trim them, you can lay them out by alternating their direction to create a more interesting pattern. Or! Keep them as rectangles (I did) and put them together how you would like them. At this point, I stand back and squint at the finished top from all angles. By squinting, you'll be able to see color and value distribution.


Stack them in order and move them to your sewing machine. For this design, we want our points to match, and so, we're going to sew them together "end to end". Place a straight pin through both seam allowances, matching the points exactly. Remove the pin just as you come to sew over it.
When the three rows are finished, piece them one to the other using the same method. Press all of your seams together.


Make a quilt sandwich! We went over this in our baby quilt and even though this throw is bigger, this sandwich is going to be even easier because we're going to tie our blanket instead of sewing it together. Still, make sure all your layers have been pressed and smoothed and pinned together with safety pins ever 6" or so.

IMG_8910 IMG_8912

Why tie? Well, for a quilt this size, I sometimes have a hard time wrestling it through my machine. I can always hand quilt it, but I don't want to worry about my stitches getting walked on or rolled in the dirt at the park. Tying is fast and keeps things where they should be. To tie your quilt, cut a yard of thread and put it through your needle. Start in the middle of your blanket and thread it through where the points come together. Take care to make sure that you're going through all the layers. Leave a 2" tail on either end and snip. Move on to the next point. Once you have our points tacked, knot your tails together. Keep tacking until you have knots every 4" or so (full disclosure-- mine are too far apart! I knowingly did this to get the quilt finished. Now I'm going back and continue sewing ties in between the ones that are already there which should space them out nearly perfectly).


We are almost done. All that's left is to bind it up-- use your scraps and any leftover backing fabric after you've trimmed your blanket and sew a continuous strip of fabric at least 260" long (it sounds daunting, but once you get going you'll have a strip in no time). Refer back to part three of our baby quilt for links and suggestions on this one. Once you've bound one quilt, you'll quickly master doing it again!

This is such a fantastic gift for a Spring or Summer wedding. It's quick, handmade and filled with promise about all the fun the lucky couple is about to have.

Weekend Project: A Getting Started Project for Tiny People

(Reminder: we will be closed Monday and Tuesday of this week.)


We tackled a baby quilt, but there are lots of other (and easier!) ways to show a new parent how excited you are to welcome a little one. Bibs were an essential part of our family entourage during the first year of all my boy's lives. I used them for bottle feeding and spit-ups long before we moved to all that soft food. Every so often one still gets stacked in with the napkins and someone ends up using one to their hands at the breakfast table.They are great to make en masse and then keep on hand to have give as baby having season approaches! 

The perfect bib (in my opinion) is: Cute (obviously), modern, soft, plastic and pocket-free, absorbent, and medium-sized. They are astonishingly hard to find in stores. I used the template from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing for this project, but there is a bib pattern piece in almost all the baby sewing books, including ones by Amy Butler and Lotta Jansdotter. You can sketch your own pattern piece or trace an existing bib you may own and like. Your pattern piece will fit from edge to edge on a regular 8 1/2" by 11" piece of paper. Sometimes I go a stitch longer, but paper-sized is a great guide to start with.

I started with three fat quarters from Jay McCaroll's Habitat line. It is PERFECT for a project like this as it qualifies under the "cute" and "modern" categories as well as in the lesser known "not too precious" column. Look! Paint Spatters! Bring on the spaghetti sauce, Sir. Three fat quarters will be enough for SIX whole bibs. My favourite bib backing is terry cloth or towelling. You can cut up a still absorbent but slightly holey towel, or you can splurge and go for the wonderfully soft, organic terry we have at the store right now. I did the latter and bought an entire yard (we'll have an upcoming project that will utilize any leftovers). I like velcro/hook and loop tape for closures, because I always have some laying around. Snaps are great as well, and so are simple button and button-hole closures.

So! You're ready to go. Place your terry cloth and print fabric right (soft) sides together. Pin your pattern piece in place and carefully cut out around your pattern piece. Take the pattern piece off, replace your pins (the terry can get a little shifty) and transfer to the sewing machine. Beginning a 1/2" inch from the edge and near the bottom corner begin sewing around the perimeter of your bib, backtacking at each end. Leave a 2" gap between the beginning and the end of your stitch line so that you can turn it right-side out.

Clip the seam allowance at the neck curve, and grade (trim) your seam allowance slightly around the closure ends.

Turn bib right side out, using a pencil or chopstick to turn out all the curves. Press the bib completely flat, turning the edges of your fabric inward where you've left the bottom gap. Place a single pin keeping the fabric turned in and your gap even. Topstitch around the entire perimeter of your bib 1/4" away from the edge. Your gap is now closed! If you are nervous about topstitching an even, straight line, opt for a short zigzag stitch. It is very forgiving and cute-- when I look at all the bibs I made my first born, ALL my topstitching was some form of a zigzag.

Now you can adhere your snaps in place (you can buy snaps that come complete with their own min snap setter) or sew on your velcro. 

That took almost no time, right? You are going to be one heckuva shower gift-giver.