Bias bars are used to make bias applique. These bars are often made from metal or a heat tolerant plastic. The bars in the photo are plastic bias bars. A metal bias bar is the most popular. As you can see, they come in different widths.
The bar is inserted into a long tube of fabric made cut from the bias . A section of the tube is then pressed. The bar helps keep the strip uniform in shape under the hot iron. When one section of fabric is pressed, the bias bar is pushed further into the tube. This section is then pressed and the above process is repeated until the entire fabric tube is completed.
Quilters use these fabric tubes for applique. Often the fabric becomes stems for appliqued flowers. Using fabric cut on the bias allows the stems to curve gently without causing ripples.
If you would like to purchase a set of bias bars, click here.
Click on the video below to learn how to use a bias bar to make curved pieces for your applique.
NOTE: to enlarge the video, click the PLAY button, then click the full-screen icon at the bottom right of the video.
TRANSCRIPT: Bias Bars; Encyclopedia
So this is my bias bar, I have plastic bias bars; metal ones are a little bit nicer. And I use this bias bar to make this curved piece of fabric for my basket handle. If I were to use a regular piece of fabric, not cut on the bias, then it would be very hard to get this piece to lie flat when I come around the curve because this piece stretches and it can give me more give on the outside where I need it and less give on the inside. So when I tack this down, it will lie flat. I cannot do that with straight of grain or cross grain fabric.
So how does this work. I take a piece of fabric that’s been cut on the bias. And what I do is make sure that the fabric is wider than my bias bar. And I don’t need a bias bar like this, I could cut it out of cardboard, but do you see that it’s wider. And I put wrong sides together; and then I’m going to stitch, like I did here, so that I have this tube that looks like this. Now I’ve trimmed my seam on this tube before I put the bias bar in, so this fits around that bar. And what I would do is I would then turn this seam, so that the seam is in the back, I take it over to the iron and I press that on here. And as I press it, it comes off and actually what I’m pressing, I use a hot iron and I usually put steam it at this time because I really want that to stay, like you can see over here. And on the back, I like to open that seam. It’s not necessary, but you can open it.
So when that’s all been pressed, and I’ve got a piece that will curve when I want it to curve, and that’s what you use those bias bars for.