Saturday, August 25, 2012

All About Bias Tape and Why You Need to Make Your Own

I only discovered bias tape in the last year and I really love it. Sure, I had heard of it when I was younger and learning to sew, but I don't think I used it or if I did, it didn't make a huge impression. Well, this time around, bias tape a much bigger influence on me.

Bias tape is essentially a strip of narrowly and evenly fabric that was cut on the bias. It's main advantage is that when cut on the bias, the "tape" will have more stretch for using to finish curves on hems, seams, or whatever you are using it for. You can buy it ready made in different thicknesses and as double-fold or single-fold.

Bias tape is used to bind straight or curved edges. Because it is cut on the bias, it stretches making sewing on curves easier. It comes in many colours, generally solids, if store-bought. But if you make your own, the possibilities are endless.

Single vs. Double fold

What I found confusing is that single fold bias tape actually has two folds and double fold bias tape has three. The raw edges are folded over on each. So if you realize that, it is easier to keep straight.

Single-fold bias tape makes sewing hem lines a snap. It creates a polished finish and eliminates the need for facing at hemlines. Single-fold bias tape can be used to make a narrow facing, like at a neckline or armhole. Unfold the tape and place the pressed crease-line along the garment seamline. Stitch in place and trim the garment seam allowances narrower than the bias. Turn the bias to the garment wrong side, press to shape and hand- or top-stitch the remaining bias folded edge in place

Double-fold bias tape is used to finish edges too but it is visible on the front of the fabric. This allows for all kinds of effects. It is meant to encase the raw edge when sewn onto the garment.The tape itself is folded such that the underside is just slightly longer than the upper side. This allows for the thickness of the cloth edge thatyou're binding, and assures that you'll catch the lower folded edge when applying the binding by machine.

Making Bias Tape

You need to cut narrow strips of fabric on the bias. Colette  has a fabulous tutorial here. Actually, Colette has two tutorials, one for making shorter strips and one for continuous loop bias tape. 

Carla at the Scientific Seamstress has a printable bias tape maker. I printed it and found it quick easy to use. I wish she sold these in some material that wouldn't burn from the iron. This is the type of gadget that could sell for $10 and every seamstress would own one. It is portable and effeicent. Do follow the link to print your  own -especially if making bias tape is new to you.

Finally there is the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker (and I think one is also put out by Clover). Head over to Fly Away Home to see this baby in action. 
This picture is from Fly Away Home. Just look at the bias tape Lucy made in all those amazing fabrics! No wonder I bought a machine based on this post.

Using Bias Tape:

Whether you're using purchased bias tape or making your own, there are tricks to applying it to be sure it's pucker-free and hugs the edge you're covering.
  • Bias tape can finish almost any raw edge.
  • To bind an edge, begin in an inconspicuous place around the project perimeter, away from a corner to reduce bulk. Slide the raw edge into the bias opening and pin in place.
  • Use straight, zig zag or decorative stitches to sew the bias tape in place
  • Before sewing the bias tape around curves, press the bias tape for a better fit. The bias grain allows the binding to shape to the curve without puckering
  • Bias doesn't ravel, so you can simply cut the tape to the length you need and continue stitching, overlapping the original end about 1/2"
  • If you prefer not to have your stitching show, use the two-step method. Unfold the bias tape and sew to the right of the foldline with right sides (bias tape and fabric) facing. Then fold the bias tape as you normally would and stitch in the ditch or slip stitch the underside down.

 "No Swearing" bias tape sewing video that goes through the process of sewing bias tape on. Its simple to do and an easy 3 minute video to watch.


  1. Thanks for the info, I think I used the wrong type of bias tape before! I bought double fold when I should have been using single! I have made my own bias tape before and I really liked it, but I don't have a fancy machine for it. Very tempting though!!

  2. Great information Nothy. I am always confused about single and double fold bias tape!!!

  3. I think the most important thing you can tell people about bias bindnig is that you can and should steam press shaping into it BEFORE applying it. It sits SO much better this way. The shaping doesn't have to be perfectly the same as the finished garment shape, but the closer you can get to the curve, the better. Even on a hem for a frocked, gored or circular skirted garment, getting that shaping ahead of time eliminates those moments when a fold develops. :)

    1. Thanks - I've had some trouble with bias tape but haven't tried your trick yet. I definitely will try it!

  4. What an amazing tool the bias tape makers by clover are! I found baby bibs were so easy to make with them. I used it to edge a hot water bottle cover too. great to get the opportunity to tell you that was a terrific article!

  5. Homemade bias tape is so much better than the store bought stuff! And that printable bias tape marker looks like something everybody should have a copy of; thanks for linking it. I haven't made one yet, but would making it from, say, heavy watercolour paper and using a press cloth during ironing mean it would last longer without burning? Just wondering.
    (Oh, and lucky you, getting to continue the pattern pyramid! Hope to see what pattern you ended up choosing, soon.)

  6. Great Post! Thanks for mentioning FlyAwayHome. I hope you like your bias tape maker as much as I do mine.

  7. Wow, let me at it I thought. Cheapest I can find here in the uk is $95! The supplier on Amazon will not ship to the UK - no wonder if they make nearly twice the money - oh well!

    I learned to make bias binding at school back in the 1960s.

    1. It is very expensive in Canada too. I buy it from the US amazon site and have it shipped to Buffalo and then go and pick it up.

  8. Great post! I love my bias tape. I always buy day, maybe I'll make it myself. Had no idea there was a machine to do it!

    -Sara, Road to the Heart

  9. I'm saving this for later since one of my projects uses bias tape. First, I've got to figure out how to use a sewing machine again!



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