Saturday 24 February 2018

BOM 2018: Morning Glory Part 2, Making Bias Stems

These are my bias stems in position.  Up until now, I have always traced any stems by hand onto fusible and then created them all individually according to the pattern design, just like any other applique piece. That's my ongoing method and although it certainly uses more fabric, I prefer it. And you need to know that you have enough fabric in your pattern requirements to make the stems any way you like. I am not showing you this in an effort to save you fabric, I'm simply showing you what I have done to experiment with a new technique. Create your own stems as suits you. 

However, I have been intrigued by this bias stem method shown below and decided to use it for my Morning Glory quilt because it was a 'risk free' experiment. There are so many leaves that overlap and draw attention away from the stems in this pattern design, that it really didn't matter if the stems didn't work as well as I expected . However, I can tell you happily that this method certainly does work and is worth learning and knowing about.

Only one thing: this method is very difficult to explain. At least, I have difficulty explaining it and I think it's hard to follow. So I've included in this post, the images of how I made mine in case it helps anyone. But frankly, I think you have to make it to get it.

You don't have to use this method, it's just a useful method to get lots of bias stems from a limited amount of fabric. The return is appox. 7 yards of bias stems from a fat quarter. You could also do this with a 16 inch square. I made mine bigger at 18 inches, but it wasn't necessary.

So here's how you make bias stems:
This is an 18 inch square for the bias stems
I creased the line on the diagonal with an iron to make cutting easier 
Now I've cut my square in half diagonally
And then rejoined them on the side, with both straight edges together
Then I sewed the straight edges together with a shorter stitch and pressed the seam open 
and drew lines, 1 inch wide along the long edges
Then I re-aligned the two open sides
and I offset 1 inch and cut approximately 5 inches into it
As shown here
And then I aligned my two edges so I could sew them accurately
and created a 'tube'
And then I started the continuous cutting of the 1 inch bind. 
This methods creates 7 - 7.5 yards of bias
I used 2 bias binding gadgets: half an inch and 3/8 of an inch, but before you start pulling them through the gadget, make sure your seams are cleaned up.

I iron them open and then, using Elmer's glue stick, glued down the seams and then cut away any excess on the edges of the pressed open seam.
I left 3 rows on my tube. They were marked at a 1 inch width but because I intended to use a smaller 3/8 bias binding gadget on those strips. So when I cut them out, instead of cutting the 1 inch width and drawn on the fabric, I actually cut them at 3/4 of an inch width. As shown below.
Once you can get your head around this method, it is simply the fastest way to create stems. 
Overall it's good to know as a technique and it certainly gets lots of value out of your fabric. 

Morning Glory is my current paid BOM. It's an applique and pieced quilt. 

You can start this BOM today! 

Simply click the quilt image to learn more.


  1. Esther, I learned this method for creating bias quilt binding in the 70s. I marked the lines 2- 2 1/2" apart, folded them wrong sides together, pressed and had 1- 1 1/4" wide binding. A 36" square would provide enough binding for a king size quilt. Your method of folding the long sides to the center, then folding them together is a really clean way to create skinny stems. Your photos are very helpful to those who've never seen this technique. Great tutorial!

  2. This is an efficient method of making bias strips. I have made bias binding this way and always have lots of leftovers.

  3. I can understand totally, I used this method to make a binding and finally after taking it out twice, figured it out and it was great. Just a bit puzzling.


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