Wednesday, May 13, 2020
The good old days of bias tape
In the course of making lots and lots of face masks I had occasion to delve into my stash of sewing notions from the previous century, all of which have been carefully saved because you never know when you might need them. Indeed, for 30 years I have found no use for inch-wide bias binding, or "quilt binding" as some of it was labeled, because if I wanted to put binding on a quilt I would use actual fabric, and if I wanted to face a hem (as the wider bias was labeled) I would use nylon seam binding (of which I also have a boatload). But who knew it would be perfect for the ties on face masks!
As I surveyed the whole box full, I noted how the price has gone up over the years, while the quantity in the packet has gone down. Not all the packets have dates, but the pink one is 1966, the second from the left is 1969 and the yellow one at the right is 1986. Meanwhile the quality has changed too -- from 100% cotton to 50/50 poly/cotton.
Between 1966 and 1986 the price went up from 6 cents a yard to 63 cents -- a 950% increase! But from 1986 till today, it's only gone up 57%. Today the fabric is 55% polyester, which I wouldn't worry about, since poly blends are much more wrinkle resistant than 100% cotton.
As the price was going up, the width of the binding was going down. The pink stuff from 1966 was a full inch wide, the yellow looked to be about 1/16" narrower, and according to the JoAnn Fabrics website, today's binding, which costs $2.99 for three yards, is only 7/8" wide.
And some of it was even on sale!!