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Cutting Stripes On The Bias

May 29, 2012

How To

When I posted about the baby quilt I made with vintage stripes, I had a few requests for a tutorial on how I achieved the matched bias stripes.  I hemmed and hawed about how to do this, since I really didn’t want to post instructions that would allow people to make Allison’s Pow-Wow quilt without buying her pattern.  That just didn’t feel right.  So what I’ve decided is that I will show some quick tips about cutting the strips I used, but without any dimensions or instructions for putting the block together.  I hope that everyone understands why I’ve chosen this course of action.

To start with, I really recommend starching the bejesus out of your piece of fabric.  It should be as close to paper as possible.  Seriously.  Because you will be cutting your strips on the bias (45° in this case), they will be very prone to stretching and distortion as you pin and sew, and the starch will help to protect against that.  It is also important to handle your strips quite gently for the same reason.

Once you’ve prepped your fabric, line up the 45° line on your ruler with one of the lower stripes.  The more accurate you are with this, the more precise your final piecing will be.  Begin by cutting off the bottom right corner.

bias-cut stripes tutorial

bias-cut stripes tutorial

Then repeat the same thing on the bottom left corner, such that you are cutting in the opposite direction from your first cut.  How larger a corner you cut off will depend on how long a strip you require for your project.  In the photo below I have cut to allow for an 8″ strip.

bias-cut stripes tutorial

bias-cut stripes tutorial

bias-cut stripes tutorial

Now that you’ve set up your angles, you can begin to cut your strips at whatever width you require.  If you need more than one pair then alternate which side you cut from so that you end up with pairs that are close to equal in length.

bias-cut stripes tutorial

When you take one left-hand strip and one right-hand strip and place them together you’ll see that they line up!

bias-cut stripes tutorial

You might notice that towards the top of the pair, it seems to slip out of alignment.  This is because the stripes on my fabric weren’t perfectly straight.  This particular sheet was well worn and hence thinner than new quilting cotton, so it was hard to avoid a bit of waviness.  But if you are using new fabric, and you are careful to “press” instead of “iron,” you should get much more accuracy.

I hope this was helpful, and if you end up making something with these tips I would love it if you posted a picture in my Flickr group.  I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2012 5:56 AM

    Sheila – those colours are delicious, I must get a bundle of your stripes soon, I found one more stripy pillowcase last week, funnily a USA one in the UK!

  2. May 30, 2012 8:44 AM

    Thanks for the tutorial. It’s information I can really use!

  3. May 30, 2012 10:20 AM

    Great tutorial . . . thank you! :)

  4. julie permalink
    May 30, 2012 2:54 PM

    Awesome tutorial, thanks for sharing it!

  5. Beth C. permalink
    June 4, 2012 2:16 PM

    Thank you for the tips on getting stripes to match on the bias! I was one of whom asked for a tutorial and am super glad to respect designers’ copyrights.
    Beth in AL

  6. July 1, 2012 3:57 PM

    This is great, thanks for sharing! I have always wondered how this was done.

  7. Susan permalink
    December 28, 2013 2:48 PM

    I found your website through 627handiworks. This tutorial/tip is great. Thanks for sharing.

  8. kaythequilter permalink
    June 21, 2014 6:48 AM

    I am 61 and have been sewing since I was in girl scouts and in 7th grade – a long time and I think this is the first ever to see ANY information about matching stripes on the bias. I have read through so many books on sewing, and to think I never even thought about matching stripes on the bias. Novel idea for sure and such an easy lesson on it. I am wondering what one does to make pieced longer strips. I suppose you just cut more strips, carefully seam lengths together with very accurate seaming and the same exact amount of seaming on the matching piece and hope that they too will come out as exact. I am surely going to have to try my hand at this. I was thinking next time I make a shirt how cool this would look as the front placket. This would add a vertical focal point to make me seem thinner. It would also be great for an accent around a hat just above the brim because the bias would make it drape nicely. Did you use regular spray starch? I usually use Mary Ellen type for quilting, but it does not seem to add much stiffness. Thanks for sharing.

    • February 22, 2015 7:16 PM

      That’s so kind of you to say! And I agree, it would look great as front placket on a shirt! Did you ever try? As for starch, I use the cans from the laundry section. They make the fabric really starchy, which is the way I like it. :)

  9. June 25, 2014 4:44 PM

    Could you press your piece vertically down the middle, RST, so you’d get both strips in one cut?

    • February 22, 2015 7:14 PM

      Hi Lauren: In theory, yes. But If your goal is to have the individual stripes match perfectly I think it would be more accurate to cut them separately. That said, if you try it your way I’d love to hear how it worked out!

  10. May 25, 2015 3:49 PM

    Great information and well presented. Thank you! I’ll use this often!

  11. May 26, 2015 3:31 AM

    Great tutorial…..just a pity you have to swear to emphasize your meaning…..


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