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.
It's as easy as one-two-three to set up the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker (BTM).
- Take it out of the box.
- Open it up on a flat surface near an outlet with plenty of working space on both sides.
- Set up the winding spindle and the guide bar, and insert the cord.
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
Winding and feeding
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Adjust the rubber washers on the guide bar as necessary to fit the width of your strip.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
Heat it up and let 'er roll
- 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.
- 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.
- Press "RUN" again to stop.
- 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!
Working with the optional tips
- We tried the widest tip, the 1¼" single fold tip, and it worked like a charm.
- Then we tried the narrowest tip, the 3/8" single fold tip, and it worked slick as a whistle as well.
- 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.
- How cute is this itty-bitty tape?!
- 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.
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.