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My Favourite Sewing Gadget - A Bias Tape Maker

Updated on September 10, 2014
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What is bias tape and why do I need it?

Bias tape (AKA bias binding) is simply a narrow, folded strip of fabric.

It gets the name 'bias' because it has been cut 'on the bias'. If you take a piece of fabric you can feel where the bias is by trying to stretch it. If you're not pulling it on the bias, it won't stretch at all - but try stretching it on the diagonal and you'll feel it 'give'. Cutting the narrow strips of fabric 'on the bias' means that it will go around corners easily. The width of the binding can be varied, depending on what you are using it for.

Make Bias Tape To Enhance Your Sewing Project

Bias tape / binding is incredibly useful for making a tidy edge. However, it can also become a hugely important decorative feature of whatever you are making. It can look amazing on the edge of a quilt, place mat or potholder.

If you use it on the armholes and neck edge of a dress it can really enhance the garment.

Whatever you're making, you can choose to make your own binding of the same fabric for a matching look or choose something completely different to contrast with the main fabric. You can achieve very interesting looks with binding. For example, if you were making a sleeveless dress from white fabric with black polka dots, why not edge the armholes and neck with your own binding made from black fabric with white polka dots.

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People are often put off using bias binding, which is a shame because it is such a useful item. Price is often a factor. If you want to use it for a large project like edging a quilt, it could become quite pricey to buy the amount you need. Although more designs are available nowadays, you may not find exactly what you want. So make your own!

Bought bias tape often has a high proportion of polyester, which doesn't always give the finish you want. So make your own!

Making your own binding is a lot less expensive, you can make it with whatever fabric you choose and it gives you complete freedom to choose a co-ordinating, matching or contrasting fabric for your edging.

Little wonder, then, that my favourite gadget is a bias tape maker. Read on to find out more...

This is the one I love - I have the whole set!

The best ideas are often the most simple. This wonderful little gadget from Clover is a great example of that.

When I first came across it while surfing Amazon (as you do...) I couldn't decide which size would suit me best. Then I saw how inexpensive they were and decided to buy one in each size.

You can choose from a quarter inch, half inch, three quarters of an inch, one inch and two inch widths.

Just bear in mind that the size of the finished bias tape will be one-half of the size of the bias tape maker. This is because you'll fold the binding in half again when you sew it to your project.

So the three quarter inch bias tape maker will make a three eights of an inch bias strip.

If you just want to try it out, the three quarter inch tape maker is suitable for most projects.

How to cut fabric to use in the bias tape maker

I've created a diagram to show you how to cut your bias strips.

To make bias tape, first measure the length of the edges of the item that you intend to trim with binding.

Then cut lengths of fabric, on the bias remembering to add a little for joining the strips together.

It's best to cut the ends of each strip of fabric at a 45 degree angle. This means that when you stitch them together, the finished strip will still retain the 'stretchiness' of the bias cut.

How wide should I cut the strips?

Now - to be perfectly honest, I have tried to describe this - in words - several times, and got myself in a mess. So to make life a lot easier for all of us, I have created a handy chart so that you can see at a glance how wide to cut your strips.

Joining your strips

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You can see in the picture that the ends of the fabric have been cut at a 45 degree angle. With right sides together, sew to join. Now take it to your ironing board and press the seam open. You'll see why later...

Now you get to use your new toy!

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The good news is that you've now completed the most labour intensive part of creating your very own bias tape.

Now comes the fun part. Take one end of your strip of fabric and feed it into the wide end of the bias tape maker. To make this easier, the manufacturers have created a small groove down the centre of the little machine. This means that you can slide a pin in to pick up the fabric and give it a helpful tug if it's not sliding easily.

Just keep gently pulling the fabric through and you will see it coming out of the other end, neatly and beautifully folded into bona fide bias tape!

To make this even easier, I like to work on an ironing board. I always have my ironing board up when I'm sewing anyway, for flattening seams and keeping everything nicely smooth. So...as the fabric starts to feed out, all nicely folded, simply take a pin (a glass headed one is best, so that you can see it easily) and pin the fabric to the ironing board cover.

Anchoring the fabric this way give you more control over the fabric. Once you have pulled through a reasonable length, unpin the folded fabric and slide your iron over it to give crisp edges to your bias tape. Then simply repin it, just before where you finished ironing and carry on.

With practice, you'll be able to pull and iron quite smoothly. When you reach a sewn joint, you may have to give it a gentle tug to get it through smoothly. This is where ironing your seam joins open will pay off! They'll be less bulky and easier to pull through.


Other bias tape makers are available!

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The picture above shows you the Simplicity Bias Tape Machine in action. If you make a lot of bias tape then this is the puppy for you. It has a built-in iron so you just plug it in and feed in your fabric.

You can set the automatic iron to a variety of heats to suit whichever fabric you're using.

You can also get different sized tips for this Machine - we've listed a couple below to help you out.

Simplicity Bias Tape Machine

The machine below automatically shuts off after ten minutes of not being used. This is a great feature...if, like me, you go to answer the phone and forget you left the iron on...oops!

Simplicity 1 - 1/4" Quilt Binding Tip

If you love making quilts - then this is the one for you. Quilts have a LOT of edge and that's a lot of tape to make. You really don't want to be buying tape - too expensive and the choice is restricted...making your own will create the perfect finishing touch.

Simplicity 1/2" Single Fold Bias Tape Machine Tip

Another tip for crafting - this one would be great for use on smaller, more delicate items.

Make bias tape with your sewing machine

If you're not fond of hand sewing, just fix this baby onto your sewing machine and you're good to go.

What can I use Bias Tape on?

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Once you are able to make your own bias tape, the design possibilities are endless.

Now - you can bind edges with the same material for a co-ordinated look.

Or, you can find a fabric that matches in tone but not design to show off an edge and to enhance your project. See how the binding on this potholder and glove really make the patchwork colours pop!


Trim a dress

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This little girls' dress was very cute to start with but see how the addition of bias tape has given it a professional finish and added to the simple design. The light, fresh green really sets off the flowers on the fabric of the dress.

Another clever feature is how the dressmaker has used the binding. It's been continued on up over the shoulders to create ties over the shoulders.

This method has many uses. You could bind a potholder and then continue the binding on into a little loop for hanging. It would look great on a simple tea towel, again with a hanging loop fashioned from the binding.

Bath towels can be enhanced too - but rather than binding all the way around the edges, run the tape along either end of the towel.


Give it a try...

If you're already a fan of bias binding you'll know how versatile and effective it is. If you've never used it, start small with a potholder or childs' dress.

Just be warned...it can be addictive!

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    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 4 years ago from Keller, Texas

      I came across this lens on the very day I was discussing making a binder edge for some crib bumper pads! This is exactly what we needed to learn about!

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 4 years ago

      Great lens. I love the Simplicity bias machine. May have to think about that one.

    • faeriesong7 profile image
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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @dudokdudok: Hi dudokdudok - thank you so much :)

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      dudokdudok 4 years ago

      Gorgeous lense and wonderful ideas. Will pass it to my sister, it will be to her great benefit.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @rebecca-mathews1: Hi rebecca-mathews1, many thanks, I'm so happy that you liked it :)

    • rebecca-mathews1 profile image

      rebecca-mathews1 4 years ago

      Great Lens and Great crafting ideas

    • faeriesong7 profile image
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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @sharefunstuff: Hi sharefunstuff - awww shucks *blushes* Thank you! :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @weakbond: Hi weakbond - I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you for stopping by and commenting :)

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      sharefunstuff 4 years ago

      wow just fantastic .....love your work

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      Nice lens , highly informative ,thanks for sharing

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      Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

      Congratulations on LOTD. Never knew they had a gadget you can make bias strips with. I remember having to make them by hand in school. Of course I knew you could buy them already made. But that is so cool, although I have not done any sewing in awhile, I may just have to drag out some projects to get working on.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @BarbsSpot: Hi BarbsSpot - I'm sure there are many other ways to use it. I think that the only limit is our imagination! Many thanks for the congrats :)

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      BarbsSpot 4 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Great information! There must be several more ways to use bias tape, such as the one given below by SoundFinance. Congratulations on LotD and the Purple Star award!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @LynetteBell: What a great idea SoundFinance! Get yourself a gadget to make it easier! Thanks for the congrats :)

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      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      You have given me an idea to make my towels last longer. I've got some towels that are perfectly fine but the sides are fraying.I think I'll use some bias on them. Thanks!

      Well done on LOTD and purple star!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @delia-delia: Hi d-artist - many thanks for the congrats! Singed fingers too, I'll bet! We've all been there - until this brilliant little gizmo :)

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      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Love the bias tape maker, never saw one....to think I did that by hand.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @soaringsis: Hi soaringsis - thanks for the congrats, much appreciated :)

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      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your LOTD award. I really to get back to sewing. Thanks for sharing.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Mickie Gee: Hi Mickie_G - it is a great little gadget! So much sewing - so little time...

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @hmommers: Hi hmommers - thanks for the congrats! :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @MrAusAdventure: Hi MrAusAdventure - thanks for the congrats! Much appreciated :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Dressage Husband: Hi StephenJParkin - thank you!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @RadaFrancis LM: Hi RadaFrancis - I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you for your kind comments! :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Congratulations on the lens of the day. I'm going to see some of your other lens.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 4 years ago

      Back when I sewed a lot, I really, really wanted one of these tools. It is a wonderful gadget for sewing projects of all kind.

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      hmommers 4 years ago

      Congrats on the LotD :)

    • MrAusAdventure profile image

      Bill 4 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Congrats on LOTD. Bias tape is probably the last thing on earth that I would personally ever use, but anyway... Well done! :-)

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      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Great Lens of The Day and very helpful for all the would be tailors and seamstresses!

    • RadaFrancis LM profile image

      RadaFrancis LM 4 years ago

      Huh.. very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I'm just starting to sew so it's all still very confusing but this is very helpful :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @DebW07: Hi Deb - thank you so much! :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hi rauspitz - thank you so much...it's all rather surreal :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hi simplyberry - thank you so much. I hope you enjoy the others! :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very educational lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!

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      DebW07 4 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens! Congratulations on LoTD!

    • faeriesong7 profile image
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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @SteveKaye: Aaaaw, thank you kindly Sir. I must admit I still can't believe it!

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      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Congratulations for receiving the LOTD for this well written lens. It's a work of art.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @kmhrsn: Hi kmhrsn - oooh, thanks for the heads up! It's looking ok from here...not sure what's going on there. Will keep an eye out though - thank you :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Mellithorpe: Hi Mellithorpe - thank you so much. I'm so glad you liked it.

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      Mellithorpe 4 years ago

      Love your lens. These little gadgets are cool to work with.

    • kmhrsn profile image

      kmhrsn 4 years ago

      So cool! I don't know if it's my browser, but the last two modules that say "photo courtesy of" don't actually show photos. But I am at work.....

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @orcamom lm: Hi orcamom - I'm so glad you liked the lens. I love your name! The mother of one of my friends lives in Tiumpan Head lighthouse at the top of the Isle of Lewis and she has Orcas at the bottom of her garden (well, in the ocean, which is the bottom of her garden). I'm so desperate to see them...maybe this year. She can hear them singing...how fab would that be?

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @CraftyStaci: Hi CraftyStaci - LOL at the wonky tape - me too! I'm glad you liked the chart. Trying to explain it in words was just messin' with my head so a chart seemed the way to go... :)

    • orcamom lm profile image

      orcamom lm 4 years ago

      Didn't even know these tape makers existed - an informative lens, thanks.

    • CraftyStaci profile image

      CraftyStaci 4 years ago

      I have a couple of those too, and you're right. I don't know what I did without them. Actually, I do know...I made a lot of wonky bias tape! Thanks for the info. That chart is fantastic!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @katiecolette: Hi katiecolette - many thanks for the congrats - I'm still shaking! :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @mrdata: Hi mrdata - thanks for the congrats. It's a great day today! One of these would make a great prezzie for your wife - simple, inexpensive and very useful :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @SusanDeppner: Hi Susan52 - burnt fingers...ughh...me too. That's why this little gadget is such genius! Thanks for stopping by and commenting - much appreciated :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      What a great gadget! When I used to sew a lot, it wasn't unusual for me to burn a fingertip trying to fold a piece of bias like this does for you automatically. Congratulations on your great "No more burnt fingertips" Lens of the Day!

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      mrdata 4 years ago

      Congrats for your LOTD! Valuable lens for my wife.. Thanks!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      Looks like a very useful sewing gadget. Congrats on LOTD!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hey NityasTouch - thank you! I hope to keep it up :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      CONGO faeriesong . KEEP IT UP!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Cynthia Haltom: Hi chaltom - hmmm, leaning over a hot iron is not fun if it's hot weather. I would invest in the machine. If you use/make a lot of bias then it's definitely worth it!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Gaby81: Hi Gaby81 - give it a try! You'll be amazed at how easy it is!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @miaponzo: Hi miaponze - Wow! I can promise you that you'll never go back!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hi cococute - I agree. I think bias gives a professional finish as well as adding to the design element. Thanks for the comment and the congrats :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @FlynntheCat1: Hi Flynn_the_Cat - I'm so glad you learned something. Maybe one day you will give sewing a go. It's not that hard, honestly!!! Thanks for the comment, much appreciated :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hi dentalwebsitetemplate - thank you so much! I'm totally thrilled :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @LadyDuck: Hi LadyDuck - it is pretty isn't it? Simple is often the most effective :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Jogalog: Hi Jogalog - thanks for the congrats. I'm still in shock! I love the girls dress too, I remember sewing for my little girl (and little boy) and knitting...good days :)

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      Jogalog 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I love the little girl's dress - so cute and summery.

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      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      This little dress is so lovely. Bias tape is a nice finishing

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very nice ideas. Congratulations for the LOTD!

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      FlynntheCat1 4 years ago

      I am probably never going to use this (sewing = hard), but I have learnt something new and that is awesome.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is such a very related lens on my work before, bias is really an essential for a sewer, first to give a clean finish to any garments, as an industrial sewer, we use special foot for hemming bias. congrats for your recognition

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      miaponzo 4 years ago

      Yes... you have convinced me to ALWAYS use it :) Amazing results!!!! And I LOVE that bias tape maker!!!

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      Gaby81 4 years ago

      I love it. is the first time I hear for this tool. Have to prove it. Thank you very much for this.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      The bias tape machine is a clever idea . I've used the little tool before and became frustrated when I used it. It so hot in my part of the country that turning the iron on is not something I want to do, But the simplicity machine might be just the thing I need.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @KamalaEmbroidery: Hi LoveEmbroidery - go for it, I don't think you'll regret it! I'd love to have a go at braiding a rug - I love them...but writing comes first these days :)

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      That dress is so cute! Mom had some gadgets like that she used for turning in the wool when she was braiding rugs. I've been doing my bias tape by hand, but it's really messy. I should get one of those tape makers.

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @DecoratingEvents: Hi - I agree with your mom, I'd be lost without mine! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, much appreciated :)

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Hi GenieRobbins - I would certainly advise you to get one, not just because it's easier and faster (which it is) but because it gives you so much more design freedom. I bet if you get one you'll wonder how you did without it!

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      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @nifwlseirff: Hi nifwiseirff - aaaaw, you must miss your sewing stuff. Great excuse to start a new collection! I love celtic knots too - in fact, I may write my next lens about celtic cross stitch....

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      nifwlseirff 4 years ago

      These are fantastic for finishing quilts in patterned fabrics, and essential when doing Celtic knotwork patchwork projects. I left mine (and all my sewing stuff) with mum when I moved overseas, but I really must get around to buying a new one!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I make a lot of bias quilt binding. I really need to get one of those gadgets. Looks like it would be so much easier, not to mention faster.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 4 years ago

      The bias tape makes an excellent finishing touch! My mom swears by this little gadget!