As you might imagine, stems are a big part of my appliqué process. I have two favorite ways of making stems, one uses the Clover Bias Tape Maker (find it here) and the other uses Bias Press Bars (find it here). If I had to pick between the two I think I would pick the bias press bar method. It’s more labor intensive but the extra fabric gives your stems a slightly stuffed look and you can get very narrow stems.
Cutting Along the Bias
Both methods I use for stems require the use of bias strips. To cut along the bias place a quilting ruler on the fabric with the 45˚line along the selvedge or straight grain. Cut along the ruler’s edge to establish the bias. From here you can cut strips in desired widths using your quilting ruler.
Making Stems with Bias Tape Maker
To use the Clover Bias Tape Maker to make stems I cut a length of fabric ½” wide along the bias. This fabric can be threaded into the Bias Tape Maker and pressed using your iron as shown. Sometimes it is helpful to use a small amount of starch on the fabric to ease pressing.
Making Stems with Bias Press Bars
To make stems using Bias Press Bars cut a length of fabric at an appropriate width along the bias. I generally use 1/8” or 3/16” Bias Press Bars and I cut my strips ¾” to 1” wide. Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together. Sew along the length of the fabric keeping your stitching line at the desired stem width from the folded edge. Cut extra fabric from the seam very close to the stitching. Insert the Bias Press Bar and turn the stitching to one of the large flat sides. Press the remaining seam allowance to one side, making sure that the seam allowance doesn’t extend over the edge of the stem. Remove Bias Press Bar.