Fun with Bias Binding

I’ve been umm-ing and arr-ing about purchasing a Simplicity Bias Tape Maker for ages, and after seeing it on special recently, decided to go ahead – and I am so pleased I did.

Apart from the fact that I find it very difficult to resist a gadget, this little machine works very well and I was delighted with perfect bias binding in a matter of minutes when I tested it out.

So of course, the next question was – what to make! I couldn’t wait to get started and luckily happened across a blog called “Made by Loulabelle”. Verity has many excellent tutorials but the one which caught my eye was the Knitting Needle Roll which had some bias binding on it – perfect! I highly recommend you visit this site – the tutorial was very easy to follow and I was so pleased with the result that I made a second one for my friend so that she could store her knitting needles as well. (So much nicer than the annoying plastic container that I had been using.)

Knitting Needle Rolls

Knitting Needle Rolls

As for the binding machine, I have seen mixed reviews but I am more than happy with my purchase. The 1″ tip is standard and is what I used for my project. It produced the narrowest binding in the photo below which has been pressed in half. Very easy to insert the strip into the tip if you cut the fabric on an angle.

Various other tips are available separately, and I tried out the 1-1/4″ tip. Unlike the narrow tip (and because I didn’t read the small print on the packet) I didn’t realise until I tested it, that this wide tip only folds the fabric in half; so you have to insert the strip into the side of the tip, which is a bit fiddly but so worth it when you think how much binding you need for a quilt, and this machine does it very quickly with a press of the button. So much easier than trying to create bias tape perfectly with the iron – gotta be worth the price just to have no more burnt fingers!

Simplicity Bias Tape Maker

Simplicity Bias Tape Maker

This post is dedicated to my friend, Maria, who was the inspiration for the Knitting Needle Roll. Thank you for providing me needles and yarn so that I could knit a scarf on the trip back home from Sydney.

When is a Soldering Iron a Girl’s Best Friend?

When she has an embroidery machine, of course!

Just imagine being able to put your own designs onto hats, shoes, headbands or clothing without having to unpick seams!  I was very excited to try out this technique which is new to me called free standing embroidery.

Basically, you sew your design onto stabilizer and organza and the result is like an applique which you can either hand sew for a temporary fashion look or use one of the applique stitches on your sewing machine for a permanent fix.

I recently purchased a plain black cardigan and to give it a individual look for the season, hand appliqued on two pretty roses, and I am very pleased with result.

If you would like to try this technique, you will need a piece of organza which I sandwiched between two pieces of washaway stabilizer, hoop up and stitch your design.  Anything is suitable, except for flowers which have a lot of stems or vines which will make it difficult to attach later.  

When the stitching is completed, remove from the hoop and trim each design close to edge of stitching.  Wash out stabilizer according to manufacturer’s directions and leave on a towel to dry.

When completely dry, I used a tile to put the designs on whilst using the soldering iron to seal the edges and to melt away the organza.  The embroideries are now ready to be either stitched or glued to your chosen project.

TIPS
*  Either use regular washaway stabilizer and organza which I found gave the best result when stitching a dense design or one piece of Ultra Solvy (4 times thicker than other washaway products) with the organza on top.
*  Use only rayon thread.  Polyester thread will melt when the soldering iron is applied to the embroidery.
*  Don’t waste your stabilizer by only stitching one or two designs.  Fill your hoop as you only need a narrow margin between each one.

Lastly, this is not only fun and super easy, but a great way to keep up with fashion – or to start your own!

Stitching completed

Stitching completed

Trim away organza and stabilizer leaving a narrow margin

Trim away organza and stabilizer leaving a narrow margin

Soldering iron seals the edge and melts organza

Soldering iron seals the edge and melts organza

Detail on cardigan

Detail on cardigan

They were just waiting for me to discover them

I was checking out some sewing techniques on the web yesterday and I accidentally came across some projects that were made out of selvages! Wait, surely not …. could they be those dreaded edges of fabric that we were told NEVER to use? How many have I thrown out over the years? OMG – a new world opened up as I saw what other people have been making out of these little strips; pot holders, bags, dresses even. Why didn’t I think of that …. obviously it’s the imagination thing again!

Anyway, I immediately went through my stash and here is the result .. ta dah .. my first selvage pot holder . Pretty darn cute don’t you think?

Sewing was delayed while Mischa had a cat nap

Sewing was delayed while Mischa had a cat nap

The front of the pot holder

The front of the pot holder

and the back

and the back

If you like it and want to make one of your own, here are a few tips:

* Sew strips on to any cotton fabric. Good opportunity to use those “uglies” as they won’t be seen when you stitch the layers together
* When you choose the size for your pot holder, allow an extra 1/2 to 1 inch and trim to size after quilting
* Use cotton thread and batting
* You can round off the corners if you don’t want to mitre them when applying the binding
* For safety’s sake, use insulated lining and cotton batting. I used two pieces of batting and sandwiched the insulated lining in between

I’m already thinking of other things to make now that I have discovered my hidden treasure trove. I will just have to remind myself not to cut off really narrow selvages from now on.

Make and Take Time

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Is craft alive and well in Brisbane? Absolutely, as I found out when I joined the long queue for the first day of The Stitches and Craft Show. What a fun day, getting tips from so many talented people, trying my hand at making a greeting card using various new techniques with inks and stamps and checking out the stunning creations designed by the Textile and Design students at The Texstyle display. Quilts, beading, sewing, papercraft and the list goes on. I was very lucky to watch a demonstration by Julia Taylor, 2012 Masterchef runner-up and such a delightful person. Her passion for cake decorating and baking was such that I wanted to immediately rush home and get out the piping bag! Workshops, Make & Take Classes, demonstrations – it’s all there at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre for ideas, inspiration and a great day out.