Minimal Day Sampler – Block Three: Bias Curves
Most of us, as quilters, have used bias strips or bias tape at some point in one project or another. (A fabric’s bias runs diagonal to the grain, at a 45 degree angle to the selvedge.) Love it or hate it, nothing else will give you a smooth curve, or a rounded finished edge, quite like bias tape. Often in appliqué, it is used for vines, stems, and basket handles. Yeah. We’re not going there. Instead, we’ll be making a simple arc to mimic the center wave-like portion of the inspiration pendant. (Look back at the January post for a reminder.)
There are lots of methods for making bias strips. Gadgets are widely available, like bias bars and bias tape makers. But if you don’t have any of those, there are online tutorials for making it with everything from paper templates to just a couple of straight pins. If that seems like too much bother, you can go old school and just press your strip in thirds, with one raw edge on the inside and one underneath. It doesn’t matter which technique you use as long as you are careful to cut your strips on the true bias of your fabric so they have enough stretch to curve nicely, while still lying flat.
We’ll start this month’s block by printing out a copy of the template, making sure the scaling on your printer is turned off. The cut-out template should be 5 ½” wide across the top straight edge.
- From background fabric(s): Cut 2 (or 3 for lap size) rectangles 5 ½” x 10 ½”
- From appliqué fabric(s): Cut 2 (or 3) strips 1” x 12” on the bias of the fabric
Tip: I’ve used a bias tape maker which turns a 1” strip into ½” bias tape, because it was what I had on hand, but if you have one that makes another size, feel free to use it. Just be sure to cut your strips to the correct width for your bias tape maker or chosen method.
On the RIGHT side of your background pieces, align the template with the 5 ½” end of each piece and trace the curve onto the fabric. (I’ve marked the right one below with chalk to make it easier to see in the photo, but I don’t recommend using that method as it can wear off before you’ve finished stitching. For more tips on using templates, take a look at the March post.)
Press your bias strips, using your preferred method, so all the raw edges will be enclosed when stitched.
Tip: After making the bias tape, use the iron to press it again a few times (being careful not to stretch it), while slightly curving it a bit more with each pass. It makes easing the strip around the curve much quicker since it will already be partially bent for you.
Align the top fold of one of your bias strips with the line on a background fabric, easing it around the curve so it lays flat without stretching it. Pin often as you go.
Tip: Let the bias tape ends extend a bit past the edge of the background, rather than trying to match them up at the sides. It’s much easier to just trim them even with the edge of the block after stitching.
Beginning with that top fold, which runs along the inner curve, appliqué the bias strip to the background. Then stitch the outer curve.
Tip: Stitching the inner side of a bias curve helps ensure that it lays flat. If you begin with the outer curve, the inner curve often puckers and doesn’t finish as nicely.
Trim the ends of the bias tape flush with the edge of your block and press.
Your finished blocks will go here in the final quilt layout (wall, then lap size):
As always, if you have any questions about anything here or would like more information, email me at email@example.com or come find me on Instagram at @bespokeoutlaw.
Next month we’ll learn how to manage appliqué shapes with corners!