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Bias Tape Maker by Clover

I’ve enjoyed the ease of using packaged binding on my embroidered tea towels and baby blankets, but it occurred to me that it would be fun to make binding out of my own fabric collection using a bias tape maker. I had another brand of this tool and my experience with that one was mixed so I decided to seek out a Clover brand bias tape maker after seeing several tutorials on the internet using this brand of tool. I wanted to see if it is as easy as it looks to make bias tape.

First however, I had to find a Clover brand bias tape maker. They come in 5 sizes: 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and 2 inches. The tiny 1/4 inch is suitable for applique and stained glass quilts. I wanted the wide one inch kind to make a wide folded over binding for a tea towel. Craft stores carried the other small sizes, but not the one I wanted. Eventually I ordered one online and got a second 1/2 inch tape maker just in case.

It so happens that since I was going to bind a tea towel with straight edges, I decided not to use fabric strips cut on the stretchy diagonal bias. Instead I thought the jelly roll fabrics given to me by my children as a Mother’s Day gift would make great binding. (Those sweet kids knew just what I wanted!) Jelly roll strips are 2 1/2 inches wide, cut across the width of fabric selvage to selvage and are carried at many specialty quilt and fabric stores.


I can say confidently that the packaging of the tape maker I found pretty much summarizes the process:
Except… how wide do my initial fabric strips have to be? The answer is on a tiny chart on the paper insert tucked inside the package For one-inch tape, you need a cotton strip 1 7/8 inches wide. Okay, I might not remember that exact measurement the next time I need to use this tool, so I guess I better not lose this important little slip of paper:

To get that sort of precise cut I need my rotary cutter, self healing mat, and clear plastic ruler.  1 7/8 would be kind of hard to do with scissors and a pencil or chalk line.


And I’ll need to sew 2 strips together to get one long strip that will go all the way around my tea towel.

Now it’s time to thread the strip into the magic gadget. The advantage of this Clover brand tool is that it has that plastic guide to keep the fabric from slipping and sliding. The disadvantage is that it was hard to get the fabric threaded inside there.

I re-cut the fabric so that it had an angled edge and it went right through. Crafty readers, don’t iron the strip the way I photographed it here. Use the side of the iron instead. Ironing it this way separates the folds a bit so that the tape will be wider than it should be. Use the handy handle to keep from burning your hands as you guide the fabric through. The package directions should have stated that, but I noticed pretty quickly to switch the position of my iron.

It wasn’t necessary to stretch or pull the fabric. I just needed to go slowly enough to get the fabric nicely creased. It worked like a charm! None of the slipping and uneven fold overs I experienced with my last bias tape maker. If I wanted to make yards and yards of this stuff it would only take minutes once I got the strip trimmed to the correct width.

When the tape was done, it sure looked like it was a consistent one inch but I thought I should check. It turns out that it varies from a scant one inch and up to 1/8 inch less in other places. Not totally accurate, unfortunately. I don’t think the naked eye can see the difference, but still…


Next I sewed just inside the folded seam to the edge of my tea towel fabric:

And I folded it over and stitched it down on the opposite front side of the fabric, mitering at the corners:

Now my plain white towel has a cute apple green custom binding! It’s ready for some embroidery too, I’ll have to get to that this summer.


Pros:

  • Color coded plastic readily identifies the size of each tape maker
  • Plastic guides fabric easily without slipping and catching
  • Size is engraved on the metal of the tape maker
  • Super fast and easy to use. Making fabric tape using this method is more economical than buying prepackaged bias tape. It is also much easier than burning my fingertips next to the iron and doing this by hand.

Cons:

  • Difficult to find all sizes in stores
  • Size is engraved in millimeters not inches. I know… this is not a problem for many of our readers!
  • I have to save the instructions so that in the future I’ll know how wide to cut my fabric strips
  • Finished tape is only close to but not precisely the correct size

Prices range from about $6 to $12 for these tape makers depending on the size. Each size is color coded for easier identification. I can’t imagine that this gadget will wear out in my lifetime, so I think that is a good value.

Available online at Amazon and other fabric notion outlets. Often regular craft and fabric stores carry these, but the selection varies widely.

I hope to make tons of little bound napkins and towels with my tape maker. I’m absolutely going to ditch the other crummy one I tried before discovering Clover. Let us know what other fun things we can embellish with bias tape!

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15 Responses to Bias Tape Maker by Clover

  1. Dana (*danavee*) June 12, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    I have a few of these that I absolutely had to have to do a project that I never got to, and now can’t remember what I needed them for. But when I figure it out, I’ll be SO GLAD that I read your awesome review!

  2. Sandra T. June 12, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    I love my clover bias makers… use a sharpie to write on each bias maker how wide to cut the fabric strip and you won’t have to keep up with those instructions.

  3. Debbie, June 14, 2008 at 2:13 am #

    I LOVE my bias tape makers!! I have all the sizes. I found all the sizes at my local quilt shop. I’ve also seen them at JoAnn’s and Wal-Mart.

    When I make my tape, I just quadruple the fabric width for the tape maker. So if I need 1/4″ bias tape, I make the strip 1″. It works every time for me. I also like the idea of writing those instructions on the maker with a marker. Great idea, Sandra.

    I make a lot of aprons and love being able to buy fabric to match my aprons and make bias tape out of it. BTW, out of 1 yard of fabric, I got about 20 yards of bias tape 1″ wide (for 1/4″ bias tape). That’s a lot of bias tape!

    Thanks so much for this review. I love this site. You gals do a fantastic job.

  4. IamSusie June 16, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    The sharpie tip is a great one! I have to get to that right away! I hope I get to review more Clover things. My seam ripper from them is fantastic too.

  5. Roxanne =b June 17, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    that is so cool… my mom was thinking of buying a sewing machine that has a binding foot (??) maybe she’ll settle for this… I know I want to go out and find one! =b

  6. Archaic Dome October 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    OMG, do you realize how much I love you? I lost my instructions. You took a picture, and posted it so I can read it! You’re my hero! I love the tape makers, and I have all the sizes, and now thanks to the sharpie tip I’ll never waste a half hour looking for the size of the strip again!

  7. Rhonlynn December 13, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    I lost my little peice of paper, know how to use it, but didn’t know the width of the fabric. Thankyou so much!

  8. Suncitian January 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    Had to make bias today using my handy dandy bias tape maker by Clover, couldn’t remember exactly how to do it, so, I Googled it. Presto, there were your very good directions. Thanks for taking the time to put it in your blog!! Janet G in Sun City, Texas

  9. Halahblue February 3, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    I never knew these existed!! I am always altering clothes, like T-shirts, and often it requires bias tape. It would be SO much easier to make my own with this little gadget!

  10. Ethan April 16, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    I also found these handy tools at Piecemakers Country Store. http://www.piecemakers.com/products.html/Notions

    These work great!

  11. Yasmeen July 29, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    That’s a pretty small investment compared to what you’ll save by making your own. I guess I’ll give it a shot.

  12. Georgine August 7, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    Have you done a mitered corner tutorial? Thank you for posting the Bias Tape Maker. I have been looking for one, and now I know how to use it. THanks!

  13. Edith B. April 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    My review is comparing & contrsting the Clover brand & the Dritz brand bias tape makers. I started with owning just a 1/4″ and 1″ Dritz. That proved, most of the time, sufficient. Then, I added some of the other sizes in Clover brand. I got, at some point the 2″ Dritz and later, the same in Clover. For all except the widest tapes, both brands work equally well. But, for the Clover 2″, I found if the fabric is heavier than calico or bradcloth, it is almost impossible to get the fabric through! Last year, since I had two of some sizes, I gave a set to a friend at church. I wish I hd kept the Dritz 2″. Now, I am having an impossibe time finding a 2″ Dritz! I am getting ready to make some work aprons for my sister-in-law who works in a pizza restaurant & I need A LOT of 2″ trim. I’m worried that the fabric is not going to go through the Clover 2″, as it is a bottm-weight twill. If worst comes to worst, I’ll fold & pin then press “free-hand” to get the trim I need. It works without this tool, but takes so much longer to doit that way!

  14. Becky DeVries June 11, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    I read this – bought one from amazon and used it yesterday – LOVE it for the price- Thanks for the extra push to buy one- I will be using it a ton!!

  15. Amy Gunson August 2, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    Thank you! I misplaced my directions and forgot how wide to make my tape! I used your picture of the measurements!