Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bias Stems Tutorial

I was making some bias stems this morning and thought hmmm I bet there are some people who have never made these before and might benefit from knowing how, so here you go!

First you need to cut strips of fabric. But not just the regular way, on the straight of the grain. These need to be cut diagonally across the fabric as such...

Straight cuts are great for your stems if you want them to be straight, but if you want any kind of curve in the stems then you need to cut them on the bias, or in other words, diagonally.

The width you cut depends on how wide you want your finished stem to be. As a basic rule, I cut my strips double the finished width plus a half inch. For example, I wanted my strips today to finish 1/2 an inch so I cut them at 1.5 inches. The extra half inch is your seam allowance. 1/4 inch x two sides of fabric = 1/2 inch. You can later trim that down if you want. I always do, just to make sure it doesn't stick out from under the stem. That will make sense soon!

Next you fold the strip in half length ways and sew it, RIGHT sides out. I know, it's counter-intuitive to everything you know, but trust me! That seam is going to be hidden at the back of your stem.

Now it's time to whip out these fancy things - Bias Bars. And time for me to be in a photo - I'm always behind the camera! And let me tell you, it's not easy holding a quilting prop and taking a photo of yourself at the same time!!

But back to the Bias Bars. They aren't necessary, but they are fun to use and make a nice even stem. This pack of 5 different sizes cost me $8 about 6 years ago.

But what do you use these long stick thingys for? You just put them inside your stem and iron. How easy is that?! Put them in with the seam to the side...

...then just push the seam to the middle of the bar and iron...

You now have some nice bias stems that will bend and curve to whatever shape you want. Stems, vines, anything you would use a curved line for!

You can either now pin or glue baste the stem to your project. Today however I was working on a fusible project so I just cut some thin lines of fusible and attached it right on the back of the tape as such...

Then I just ironed it straight to my background fabric.

See how nice and curvy yet flat and pucker free cutting the fabric on the bias enables the stems to be?


By Hoki Quilts said...

Just the way I do it, but it was a good tute just to see if I am doing it right and oh so helpful to newbies.
Good on you for sharing.
hugs from Miche'le in NZ

Misty said...

I have to say, I think your stems might be a little biased. :)

Carolyn said...

Thanks so much for the lesson. I have quilted for awhile but just getting into applique. I'm working on a BOM ( Comfort and Joy ), it has some applique in it. Needed to know this.

Katie said...


Kerri said...

Thanks for the lesson!! And it was great to finally see you in a posting:)

Shannon Gillman Orr said...

You just answered the very question I was going to call you about! And you don't even sew them on! Awesome! I've got an idea in process...

liz said...

thanks so much! I will put this info to good use.

Oh, and I'm a MUM too, just a Canadian born one. :)

Love your blog!

liz said...

thanks so much! I will put this info to good use.

Oh, and I'm a MUM too, just a Canadian born one. :)

Love your blog!

A Creative Life said...

oh lovely, what an easy way to do this. I will now actually venture into adding bias into my quilting. Good tute.

Usagi said...

Thank you for the great tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I made a pop art flower quilt on a black & white background and the only thing preventing me from finishing it was the darn stems!!! Now, I can't wait to try your method and finish the thing!!!! I'll send you a pix when I do. Thanks - timely post!!

Alta said...

Thank you for that, I have been wondering how that was done.

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Unknown said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the refresher, just in time. maggie

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