Learn how to sew bias tape hems! Bias tape, also known as bias binding, is the most wonderful gift that keeps on giving in the sewing world. It is practical, decorative, easy to use, and makes hemming a garment very easy.
Bias Tape Hems Tutorial
Sewing hems can be one of the trickiest parts of completing a dress or other garment. They can be bunchy, puckered, uneven, chunky, and too long or short. That is where bias tape comes to the rescue.
If you are unfamiliar with bias tape, read my post on what is bias tape.
Here are some straightforward tips on sewing different hems using bias tape. The best way to start is with a few practice runs and always pre-wash fabric for shrinking.
Supplies for Bias Tape Hems:
- Bias Tape - This can be store-bought or you can make bias tape from your scrap fabrics.
- Sewing Supplies - Sewing machine, scissors, pins, tape measure, marking pen, needle, and thread.
What Size Bias Tape is Best for Hems?
The easiest bias tape to use for hems is single fold ½ inch wide (12mm). This is an extremely common width available in most fabric and craft shops. For wide bias tape hems that are straight, you may use a wider tape. But for curved hems, narrow bias tape needs to be used so it curves more easily.
How to Sew Bias Tape Hems - 6 Ways
The finished bias tape hem could be an interesting contrast color or pattern to your main fabric or it could match exactly.
Here are 6 different methods of sewing bias tape hems:
- Straight hems
- Narrow hems
- Wide hems
- Round hems
- Outside bias hems
- Circular skirt hems
These 6 methods all use single fold bias tape.
Style 1 - Straight Bias Tape Hems
Step 1 - Pin the Bias Tape
Lay the garment to be hemmed on a flat surface with the right side facing up. Check any side seams are pressed open to ensure a flat hem when you have finished.
Take the single fold tape and lay it with the right sides together on the fabric. Pin in place with vertical pins. The stitching line is going to be the first fold line of the bias tape and you do not need to leave a seam allowance.
Step 2 - Stitch the Seam
Sew the tape onto the hem using the tape fold as a guide.
TIP: If there is not enough tape, then you can join two pieces of tape together. Join them in a slanted fashion to take into account the stretch of the tape. Do not join bias tape by simply sewing across two pieces of tape because this ruins the stretch factor.
Step 3 - Press
Press open the seam, then fold the tape over to the wrong side of the fabric and press again. The seam should be on the edge. Pin the tape in place.
Step 4 - Stitch the Bias Tape
Hand stitch or machine stitch along the top edge of the tape.
Style 2 - Narrow Bias Tape Hems
The narrow hem follows the same steps 1 and 2 from above but the hem is made narrower by turning the fabric.
- Sew the bias tape as in steps 1 and 2 above.
- Create the narrow hem by folding the bias tape back on itself, leaving half the bias tape showing on the right side of the garment and the other half on the wrong side.
- Hand-stitch or machine stitch the tape in place.
- Press the hem and there you have a beautiful flat, narrow hem.
Style 3 - Curved Bias Tape Hems
Curved edges and hems are always tricky because you need to consider that the curved area of the hemline may be longer than the line it needs to fold up to. Bias tape is ideal to make this job go smoothly.
You can also use this method for armholes and necklines to encase the raw edges.
- Decide on the height of the hem. You only need a ¼ inch (6mm) hem seam allowance for using bias tape. Trim any excess if necessary.
- A curved hem may need a few gathering stitches along the edge to help the hem fit into the bias tape.
- With the right sides together, pin the tape on the outside.
- Machine stitch it in the fold of the bias tape.
- Press the stitched bias tape to the wrong side of the garment.
- Overlap the bias tape where you need to join and finish the round.
- Pin or baste the hem in place. Curved hems are more challenging to stitch down so are best basted before sewing.
- Sew the bias tape in place using a hand or machine hemstitch.
Style 4 - Bias Tape on Wide Hems
A skirt needing a wider hem will benefit from having bias tape to neaten the hem. Bias tape can be folded over creating a neat and well-structured hem.
It sews up in precisely the same way as the narrow fold hem except the bias is placed higher up creating a wide hem.
Style 5 - Bias Tape Hem on Outside
Bias tape is so versatile and can be used on the outside too. Simply reverse the positioning of the tape.
- Put the tape on the wrong side of the garment and sew at the hemline using the fold of the tape as a guide.
- Press the bias to the right side and stitch in place.
- Press every step and pin or baste before topstitching the tape.
Style 6 - Circle Skirt Bias Tape Hems
Circular skirts are always a challenge because the cut of the skirt is one very large circle, and the hem will be cut on the bias.
Cutting out the circle in this way creates more elasticity in the skirt than a straight or regular curved hem. A bias tape hem is the best form of hemming for a circular skirt as it stretches with the skirt.
Step 1 - Measure
Make the skirt according to the pattern to fit around your waist. Measure the circumference of the hem.
Step 2 - Stitch
Prepare your single-fold bias tape to fit the entire measured hem. With the right sides together, place the tape near a seam and fold the tape over slightly to make a neatened end.
Stitch along the fold line around the skirt edge until you reach the beginning and allow the bias tape to overlap before trimming off any excess tape.
Step 3 - Fold and Press
Snip around the edge of the seam to give more elasticity. Then fold the tape over as normal. Push the tape slightly further over the edge to ensure the tape is only visible on the wrong side of the skirt.
Step 4 - Baste and Stitch
Use clips or pegs to hold the hem in place. Make sure the side seam allowances are laying flat in the hem. Then you can sew along the edge of the bias tape. Do not pull at the hem because that could lead to puckering. Ease the bias taped hem through the machine.
Step 5 - Press
Press the hem with a pressing cloth, and voila, you have a beautiful skirt to swirl and twirl in and feel absolutely fabulous.
Bias Tape Hems FAQs
What is a Bias Hem?
A bias hem is one where the raw edge is encased with bias tape either for an invisible or decorative finish. It is an especially popular method for curved hems where using a double fold hem method would result in puckering. Bias hems are smooth and flat and so easy to do.
Bias Tape Hems - In Conclusion
Bias tape hems are the answer to a variety of hemming requirements. They look so professional and neat because the bias or stretch in the tape allows the curves of the hem to be considered.
The bias hem can be used in an invisible manner or it can be a fun contrast on the outside of the garment. The choice is up to you, and the outcome is always a professional finishing touch to the last but not least aspect of the finished garment.
- Sewing machine
- Sewing Basics Pins, thread, iron
- ½ Inch Single Fold Bias Tape (12mm)
- Open one edge of the bias tape and pin it right sides together to the raw edge of the fabric.
- Stitch the bias tape in the first crease. This will be ¼ inch (6mm) from the edge.
- Press open the seam and fold the bias tape to the wrong side. Press so the seam is on the edge. Pin.
- Stitch the edge of the bias tape.
More Hem Articles
- GENERAL HEMS – How to Sew a Hem
- NARROW HEMS – Sew a Narrow Hem
- ROLLED HEM FOOT – How to Use a Rolled Hem Foot
- WIDE HEMS – How to Sew Wide Hems
- CIRCULAR HEMS – How to Sew Round Hems
- BLIND HEMS – How to Sew a Blind Hem
- RUFFLED HEMS – Lettuce Hems
- KNIT FABRIC HEMS – How to Hem Knit Fabric, Catch Stitch
- KNIT HEMS – Twin Needle
- SQUARE HEMS – How to Sew Mitered Corners
- HAND HEMS – Hemming Stitch
- NO SEW HEMS - How to Use Hemming Tape
- SIMPLE HEMS - Single Fold Hems
- DOUBLE HEMS - Double Fold Hems
- BIAS - Bias Tape Hems
- SCALLOPS - Scalloped Edges
- INVISIBLE HEMS - Blind Hem Stitch