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How to Make Your Own Bias Tape

What is it?

Bias tape is a continuous strip of fabric that’s cut on the bias (page link). You can buy prepackaged bias tape made from a cotton-polyester blend in a variety of solid colors. It’s usually preshrunk so it can be used right away. You can make bias tape out of any flat fabric from printed cotton to polyester satin. The easiest fabrics to make bias tape from are tightly woven fabrics that press well, such as 100 percent cotton and cotton-polyester blends. Bias tape comes in two varieties: single-fold and double-fold. Single-fold bias tape has the edges pressed in toward center, and double-fold bias tape is single-fold tape that’s been pressed in half.

Single-fold and double-fold bias tape

Single-fold and double-fold bias tape

Bias tape inside Robson Coat

Bias tape inside Robson Coat

When do you use it?

Bias tape is great for binding the edges of fabric, as the bias curves nicely around shaped edges without puckering. Bias tape is used for seam finishes such as bound seams (page link) and seams with a Hong Kong finish (page link). Bias tape can also be used for finishing the edges of hems or finishing inner edges of facings. You can even use bias tape instead of facings to finish necklines and armholes. Read the section on binding (page link) to learn how to apply it to edges and how to finish garment openings. Bias tape has a bit of stretch, so you don’t want to use it as a stabilizer like stay tape (page link). Bias tape is also used to make covered piping (page link).

Tips + Notes

  • Choose small prints rather than large prints for making bias tape, as large prints won’t show up well on the narrow tape.
  • Stripes, plaid and gingham cut on the bias make neat bias tape!
  • When seaming the bias strips, save the shortest strips for the end and sew them one after another. That way you can start using the section with the least number of seams and save the part with several joins until the end of your project. Or cut from the end with many seams when you are using only small sections of tape.
  • You can turn double-fold bias tape into single-fold by pressing it open. Or turn single-fold into double-fold by pressing it in half.
  • Save the cardboard inserts from purchased bias tape to store your own tape. Wind the bias tape around the cardboard and secure the end with a straight pin or tuck it into the wound tape.

How to make your own bias tape

How to make your own bias tape (1)

Prewash your fabric (page link) and press it flat. To get an idea of how much fabric you’ll need, 1 yard (0.9 meters) of 60″-wide (150cm) fabric will make over 45 yards (41 meters) of ½” (1.3cm) single-fold bias tape. Fold the selvedge of the fabric toward the cut edges to form a triangle. This 45° angle marks the bias direction. Cut along this line.

How to make your own bias tape (2)

Draw a second line 1″ (2.5cm) away from the first line. Cut along this line. Use a rotary cutter and cutting mat or chalk and scissors to measure off each new 1″ (2.5cm) line and cut. Repeat until all of the fabric is cut into strips or until you have enough strips to make the length of bias tape you need.

How to make your own bias tape (3)

Sew up the small strips into one continuous strip. To do this, trim the ends at a right angle. Form a right angle with two strips, and sew a seam from corner to corner with a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance where the two strips overlap. I find it easier to sew straight when I draw in the line before sewing. Repeat until all of the pieces are connected. Press the joining seams open.

How to make your own bias tape (4)

Fold the edges in toward the center, ¼” (6mm) on both sides, and press. You can do this with your fingers, carefully, or use a bias tape maker. A bias tape maker is a helpful tool if you plan to make a lot of bias tape. It’s a little gadget that folds the edges of the bias tape into the middle for you. The fabric goes in one end of the gadget as flat tape and comes out folded, so it’s easy to press flat. Bias tape makers come in different widths, and the width noted on the package is for making single-fold bias tape. Divide the width in half for double-fold bias tape.

How to make your own bias tape (5)

Once the strip is pressed, you’ve created single-fold bias tape!
If you’re making long lengths of bias tape, start winding it onto a piece of cardboard as you go to keep it tidy. This will also help keep the folded edges in place.

How to make your own bias tape (6)

Press in half again for double-fold bias tape. Line up the edges so that one side is very slightly wider than the other. This will make it easier to sew later.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine