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Products We Love: Simplicity Bias Tape Maker

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You know how they are always comparing cool new things to sliced bread and mouse traps? To me, neither of these items rank very high on the cool-o-meter on their own, so I don't quite understand their intrinsic comparison value. Even so, they are easily blown away by the product we just finished testing here at S4H: the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker . It's cooler than a piece of sliced bread caught in a better mouse trap, which ranks it at the very tip-top of the cool-o-meter. As those of you who are frequent visitors know, we love using binding on our projects, especially custom binding in great coordinating fabrics. However, we don't love the rather tedious process of actually making that beautiful custom binding. So, when we got the opportunity to give this automatic binding maker a try, we were thrilled... and a little bit giggly with anticipation.

Of course, the product comes with some instructions, but I've outlined my own steps and notes below, which I think will help you have success right out of the box.

The product retails for $99.99, which may seem a little steep, until you think about how much time you can save by using it. Also, I found it on several websites, from Amazon to Walmart to Hancock Fabrics from as low as $63.00. And there are often coupons available. In fact, the Simplicity Creative Group has several categorized newsletters you can sign up for from their website, which routinely send out great coupon offers.

Our thanks to our new friends at the Simplicity Creative Group who introduced us to this fun new product. Stay tuned for more helpful accessories from them, and possibly... some great giveaways.

Simplicity also makes a Rotary Strip Cutter, which is the perfect companion to the Bias Tape Maker, because the secret to making sure your bias tape comes out perfect is to make sure the strip you are feeding into it is precisely cut.

Setting up

It's as easy as one-two-three to set up the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker (BTM).

  1. Take it out of the box.
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  2. Open it up on a flat surface near an outlet with plenty of working space on both sides.
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  3. Set up the winding spindle and the guide bar, and insert the cord.
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Cutting the strips

You need a strip two-times the width of your selected tip and as long as necessary for your project.

If you are new to creating bias strips, take a look at our tutorial, Bias Tape: How To Make It & Attach It. The BTM works just as well with straight cut strips that have been assembled end-to-end.

The BTM comes standard with a 1" single fold tip, which means you need to start with a strip that is 2" in width.

There are SIX optional tips for the BTM

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Winding and feeding

  1. Once you have your strip cut and sewn together to an appropriate length, you're ready to wind it on the spindle.
    NOTE: Based on our experience with manual bias tape makers, we've found it's a good idea to trim the leading end of the strip at an angle. It makes it easier to insert into and through the bias tip. However, the Quilt Binding tips have a different configuration to allow the strip to fold exactly in half, and for these tips, we found it was best to work with a blunt end.
  2. There is a small metal clip on one end of the spindle. Slip the tail end of your strip under this clip. Your fabric should be right side up.
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  3. Holding the spindle in one hand, wind the fabric around the spindle, keeping it as even as possible along both sides. You are winding the fabric taut, but not super tight or stretched.
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  4. Place the wound spindle into its holder and then pull out enough to reach all the way across the BTM. The fabric should be rolling off the spindle from the TOP.
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  5. Adjust the rubber washers on the guide bar as necessary to fit the width of your strip.
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  6. Take off the bias tip. To do this, you need to push in the lever at the back of the tip and lift it up and out. Next take off the iron plate cover. To do this, slide the cover back then tilt up the front and lift it off.
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  7. Insert the leading end point of your strip into the bias tip, and using a straight pin or tweezers, gently push it through until it comes out the end.
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  8. Pull the strip through far enough to make sure the strip is centered, feeding through and folding correctly. We pulled it through about 8-9".
  9. Replace the threaded bias tip onto the BTM. To do this, make sure you slip the point end in first and then snap the back end down into place.
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  10. Lay the strip across the iron plate, making sure it is centered, then snap the iron plate cover back into place. To do this, place the cover straight down, then slide it forward until it locks into place with a slight click.
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Heat it up and let 'er roll

  1. Insert the plug into an outlet and turn on the machine. When the iron plate is ready, the green light will go on.
    NOTE: There is a heat settings dial that can be set to: minimum, acrylic, nylon/silk, terylene, wool, cotton/linen, and maximum.
  2. When the light turns green, press the "RUN" button and watch it go. The blur in the photo below is because it actually goes quite fast.
    NOTE: We found it was a good idea to hold on to the leading edge for just a second as you press "RUN" to make sure it starts smoothly. You only need to hold it very briefly, then let go and let it run. It winds off the spindle very smoothly and slips easily out of the clip at the very end so you get folds all the way to the end of your strip.
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  3. Press "RUN" again to stop.
  4. And, wiffy-jiffy.... single fold bias tape! Correctly folded just like the store-bought tape, with one side slightly larger than the other. That was fun!
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Working with the optional tips

  1. We tried the widest tip, the 1¼" single fold tip, and it worked like a charm.
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  2. Then we tried the narrowest tip, the 3/8" single fold tip, and it worked slick as a whistle as well.
  3. Plus, while using this narrow tip, we discovered there are some little guide lines on the spindle that you can use to help you line up the strips. You don't want the narrow strips all the way against the end of the spindle or you can't center and feed the strip through the bias tip correctly. So, you can use these guide lines to wind the strip in the right position and then adjust the rubber washers on the guide bar and feed it through the tip and across the center of the iron plate.
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  4. How cute is this itty-bitty tape?!
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  5. Finally, we tested one of the Quilt Binding tips. We chose the 1¼" tip, the larger of the two, and it folded our strip exactly in half.
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    NOTE: It was a little difficult to thread the end of the strip into the Quilt Binding tip, but would probably get easier with practice. As I mentioned above, it's best to work with a blunt end for this type of tip rather than the diagonal-cut end used for the single fold tips.

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Comments (47)

Monelle said:
Monelle's picture

Several amazon reviewers say that this machine only works with the tip it comes with, and with the smaller tips, the fabric comes out not pressed at all, but totally flat, because it misses the iron or something.  What is with that, do you think?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Monelle - as you can see in the photos above, we used a number of different tips and they all looked great. Maybe the people who complained didn't get it started correctly. Hard to tell. We truly do love this product and use it often. 

Catherine jm said:
Catherine jm's picture

Does it handle seamed strips ok? Ie if i join strips toghether first, will they feed through ok ?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Catherine jm - yes, that should work fine as long as you are working with a standard quilting weight cotton and your seams are on the diagaonal and pressed open and flat - as standard seamed bias strips would be.

Annkin said:
Annkin's picture

Anyone out there who wants to buy it for me and send it to Europe?  Amazon don't want to send it to my adress... :-(  Of course I pay for the machine as well as for the sending cost to Europe!!

babs4008 said:
babs4008's picture

It's on sale right now at Amazon for $43.08 with free shipping!  I'm going to grab one.  In case you were not aware, these sales are often short-lived.  Don't expect it to be that price for long.  Thanks for the helpful review.

babs4008 said:
babs4008's picture

It's on sale right now at Amazon for $43.08 with free shipping!  I'm going to grab one.  In case you were not aware, these sales are often short-lived.  Don't expect it to be that price for long.  Thanks for the helpful review.

emmbee said:
emmbee's picture

Great review!

I'm just about to use mine for the first time. I was wondering if anyone has tried putting iron on narrow bias tape vliesofix/steam -a-seam through the machine? Or will I have to iron it on manually? Or will I have to put it through a 2nd time? Any ideas? I asked when I bought it and was given a 'yes' but there are no instructions on how to do it!

Thanks!! EmmBee

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ EmmBee -- I'm not sure to which side of the bias tape you are wanting to apply the steam-a-seam, but I'd be careful. The ironing plate actually gets pretty darn hot. I haven't tried what you're suggesting, but it seems like it could be a challenge for the fusible tape. You could test a little piece. If the iron plate ended up gooey, you could always clean it off after it cooled. This might be a good question to send through directly to Simplicity. They do also have a Piping/Bias Tape combo machine. It has the ability to send fabric, cording and an adhesive strip through at one time, then it fuses the flange of the piping in place. I was challenged a bit the multi-feeding process on this model, and so still prefer to make my own piping the "old-fashioned" way. 

emmbee said:
emmbee's picture

Thanks for you response,

I have seen the piping/bias tape combo machine on youtube. The steam -a -seam would of course go on the back side of the tape with the two raw edges. Maybe the piping version may be better as there appears to be a section to guide the steam- a -seam through the machine. I just thought it would be handy as I'd like to do some celtic work on a quilt and this would save me a step!  (always trying to save time!) The manual clover bias makers do a great job but are tooooooo sloooooooow! (when you want a lot of bias!) Perhaps the second option of putting the tape and steam-a-seam through together might be the best. I dont want the tape in the centre of the tape, between the layers of fabric!

Thanks again, I will continue to investigate.

EmmBee

Kay S said:
Kay S's picture

I'm having trouble getting the tape to come out folded even though I have it folded when it first comes out. It just crinkles it up. What could I be doing wrong?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kay S -- It's hard to troubleshoot something like this long distance, my suggestion would be to re-wrap the fabric on the spool -- it sounds like perhaps it isn't feeding off the spool smoothly. It does help, as we show in the pictures, to hold on to the end of the tape and guide it out as it gets started. Other than that - you might try sending your question directly to the helpful folks at Simplicity. 

Kay S said:
Kay S's picture

I plan on calling them in the morning, they closed at 4:30. I've spent 3 hours this evening watching videos and trying everything! I've never been so disappointed with a product! Maybe the tip is defective. It starts out nice and smooth and folded then starts crinkling up. I will call them and see what they say. Thanks!

DEBBE said:
DEBBE   's picture

OOOP PUSHED ENTER BEFORE I WAS DONE.... SETTING IT UP EVERTHING WAS CENTERD AND I USE THE RIGHT SIZE TIP 1IN( FABRIC CUT TO 2 INS)    thanks fore the well needed help debbe

  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Debbe - I'm afraid trouble-shooting this type of very specific issue long distance is nearly impossible. This bias tape maker is indeed a tool we use in our S4H studios, but not on an every day basis, so I don't consider myself an expert on everything that might go wrong. It does sound like a feeding issue, but there are so many variables it's hard to tell. I would recommend trying to get some help directly from Simplicity - or, did you purchase it locally? If so, perhaps you could bring it in to the store you purchased it from and show them exactly what is happening. 

DEBBE said:
DEBBE's picture

PLEASE TELL ME WHY OFF AND ON THE BIAS TAPE IS COMING OUT WITH A CREASE ON THE RIGHT SIDE ???IT IS  CUT TO SIZE (  HELP)

MommabotKate said:
MommabotKate's picture

That happened to mine and it had a defect in the ceramic plate that also had damaged the heat plate. Take it apart and look closely. You may have just gotten a bad machine.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Kalu - We do not represent this company; we only reviewed the project. I would suggest you contact the customer service of Simplicity directly to find out where their products are available in Brazil.
Kalu said:
Kalu's picture
Olá,que maravilhoso fazer viés,mas não sei onde comprar essa máquina aqui no Brasil.
Tem representante aqui? Ou outra forma de estar adquirindo essa belezinha?
Please, relp me,y need have this máquina.
Meu e-mail é kaluvargas@hotmail.com
Moro em Porto Alegre- Rio Grande do Sul,Brasil.
Av. Bernardino de Oliveira Paim,24 Vila Santa Rosa-Bairro Rubem Berta.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@jefndy - Yes, the machine only does single .. but that's really the hardest part of the process - to make it into double fold, all you need to do is press it in half.
Jefndy said:
Jefndy's picture
Does this make double fold tape, or just single fold?
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi J Gentry -- it sounds like you have either a much earlier model or a defective model. I would suggest you try to contact the folks at Simplicity. The one I used worked like a charm.
J Gentry said:
J Gentry's picture
Hi, thanks for the tute--I have had one of these for a while now, but mine does not have the clip to hold the strip on the roller or the the rubber 'bumpers' to hold the strip in the correct place. Also, my strips roll off not pressed all that well (like purchased bias tape) and I am wondering if my is defective? I don't know anyone that has one that I can compare mine to.
thanks!
Janice
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Randi K -- the quilt binding tips just fold the strip exactly in half -- just like the last picture above. I think it would be for the type of binding where you align the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt, stitch that in place, and then wrap the binding to the back and either hand stitch or machine stitch the binding in place along the fold. We did that type of binding on the Ruffled Table Runner we did early in the year:

http://sew4home.com/projects/table-linens/589-turquoise-2010-modas-ruffl...
Randi K. said:
Randi K.'s picture
Thanks for the detailed instructions. I have a question about the quilt binding tip. Does the tip just fold the fabric in half? Or does it also include a 1/4 inch fold on the raw edges? I don't necessarily like to press the fold but it would sure be helpful to have a 1/4 inch fold on the raw edge when you turn the binding to the back.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Kelly T .... hmmmm, I can't even quite envision that particular issue. The top roller should be feeding the tape through the tip, then across the iron plate. Once it comes out across the plate, it should just pile up on your table. Try setting everything up again and look through all the suggestions I mention above for winding it on the main roller and inserting everything into its proper place.
Kelly T said:
Kelly T's picture
I just bought one and my strips don't come out folded - they wind up on the top roller after coming off the iron. Thinking I have a defect machine.
tadalyn2006 said:
tadalyn2006's picture
WOW, very interesting! Just like Lora said, I don't use bias tape that much either, but this is for sure going on my Christmas list!
vickit said:
vickit's picture
Oh, I want one of those SO badly. Great review so we could see much more than just the machine.
Savitar said:
Savitar's picture
I want to say that I don't feel there is any conflict with reporting on products here. This is a site sponsored by a sewing machine company - it's not like a blog written by me. As such, they have a lot more opportunity to try things out than the rest of us. They have reported on fabric lines from featured designers, and I don't feel pressured to go out and buy that fabric when I make one of the projects using the featured fabric.
Lora said:
Lora's picture
OH... I just found a wishlist item for Christmas!!!! I don't even use bias tape that much, but I believe I would start if I had that... if nothing else I'd have lots of bias tape from playing with it. HA!
Zura from Malaysia said:
Zura from Malaysia's picture
I really, really wish Simplicity would consider exporting this to Malaysia..it's not available here and to buy from the US is risky because of the different currant/volateg issue...sigh..they are losing out coz there's a huge home sewing market in Malaysia right now.
Alejandra said:
Alejandra's picture
Thanks so much for your quick response---it's actually only $60 through Amazon, and I have a birthday coming up in five days.. now I'll know what to ask for! Thanks for the helpful step-by-step instructions so we can demystify! Love your website, too!!
Alejandra said:
Alejandra's picture
I have been debating whether or not to get the BTM for quite some time. Unfortunately, the reviews on Amazon are less than shining, and most say they get perfect bias tape anywhere from 30-60% of the time.. Not worth the $100 to me! What would you say about that? Is it a "user error" situation?
Valsum said:
Valsum's picture
I saw this bias tape maker at Joann's today. It is regularly $89.99 but is $30.00 off this week. If you get it on Friday or Saturday they have a 20% off of your entire purchase coupon making it $48.00!!!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Alegandra -- I saw those reviews on Amazon as well when I was researching pricing on the product. I can only give you my experience, but I did not have any trouble... once I got going and worked through some trial and error. The reason I went into such step by step detail above is because, as with the majority of products, the instructions included in the package are not great and, I think, leave out some important information that would give more consistent results. Winding the strip on the spindle, making sure the strip is centered all the way through, confirming that both the tip and the iron plate cover are correctly locked in place, pulling enough tape through the tip to insure it is feeding correctly ... all these steps are really important but not necessarily covered in good detail in the instructions. As people mention above -- look for those discounts and couponssmilies/cheesy.gif.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Skeptical; If you've spent any time on our site, you've noticed we are completely transparent when it comes to letting you know if we've been given something by a manufacturer, including in the case of this review. I was happy with the product and would spend my $ on it. As I mentioned above, I did think it was a bit spendy, which I why I suggested looking for special discounts and coupons. I think you only need to be skeptical if you run into a review that doesn't reveal a product was given for the purpose of a review.
Skeptical said:
Skeptical's picture
I love reading sewing blogs, but then am disheartened when there is a glowing review for a product that was given to a blogger for free in exchange for a review. While you likely consciously did not let the fact it was a gift influence your review, would you spend your own hard-earned $100 on it?
Jessica K. said:
Jessica K.'s picture
I am so very excited to see this article! I had purchased this at wal-mart despite reading so many negative reviews about it. Lots of people said that the various tips did not work among other complaints. This gives me hope!
Carla Vega said:
Carla Vega's picture
This is on my Wish LIst for Christmas. I have to rotary cutter and it works like a charm and I got it for 10 bucks at Wal-Mart. So check for clearance sales too.smilies/grin.gif
Jen C said:
Jen C's picture
WOW...Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I love the tutorial and thanks for the great review. I will get this and use it now that I can visually see how it works.smilies/wink.gif
Mhills02 said:
Mhills02's picture
I have had this Bias Maker for a few months. I use it all the time to make my bias for my fabric banners and just LOVE it. I bought mine at Joanne's with a 40% off coupon so it wasn't near as expensive.... but so worth it!
Cary said:
Cary's picture
Wow! This looks great. It sure would add a bit of fun to the binding task!

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