Bias tape (sometimes called bias binding) is simply a long strip of fabric that has been cut on the diagonal therefore making it stretchy. It is used to encase raw edges and can be used decoratively on projects such as quilts or clutches or it can be used to bind armholes or necklines. If you learn how to make bias binding tape it can save you a lot of money and the possibilities for using beautiful fabrics are limitless.
What you will need:
- Fabric – your fabric should be lightweight and tightly woven. I normally find that fabrics with small prints work the best. A larger piece of fabric will result in fewer joins in your fabric. I recommend you start with a piece that is at least 1/2 yard (0.45m).
- Scissors or a rotary cutter
- A ruler
- An iron
- Bias tape maker – They come in assorted sizes such as 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 inch widths. Here I have used a 1/2 inch (12mm) bias tape maker. Common brands include Clover, Birch and Dritz.
There are 2 types of bias binding tape: single fold or double fold.
Single fold bias is used the on the edges of clothing such as necklines and underarms. It is flat with the raw edges facing each other in the middle.
Double fold bias tape is simple single fold bias that has been folded again so that all the edges are encased. It is can be used for quilts and decorative purposes or to bind armholes and necklines. It is probably the most commonly used tape. See how it has been used on the pockets of the Heidi Dress or the armholes and straps of the Sophia top.
HOW TO MAKE BIAS BINDING TAPE
Ready to learn how to make bias binding tape? First find the bias of the fabric. This is just the stretchiest part of your fabric and is a 45-degree angle from the selvage. Find the angle easily by folding over the edge of your fabric to form a triangle. If you cut along at this angle it will be 45 degrees – no maths involved!
Cut strips along the 45-degree bias double the width of your bias maker. For a 1/2 inch (12mm) bias maker, I cut strips of 1 inch (2.5cm) in width. You can use a rotary cutter or scissors for this.
Take 2 strips that have ends pointing in the same direction.
Put the right sides together and stitch your pieces together like this. Use a small stitch and make sure you backstitch the ends. Your seam will be around 1/4 inch (6mm). See how each end overhangs a bit and the stitching line goes from edge to edge. The 2 pieces of tape will form a 90-degree angle. Repeat until all the strips are joined together to form a continuous strip of bias tape.
Press the seams open and trim the pieces that stick out over the edges. Now we have lovely bias strips and are ready to turn it into tape with our bias maker. (Click here for how to make bias tape without a bias maker.)
Once you have all your pieces joined you can make them into tape using your bias maker. Put the long angled end into the bias maker and push it through to the other end. A seam ripper or pin can help you do this.
Iron the folded fabric as it comes out the other end of the bias maker. Use the handle to pull the bias maker along smoothly. Make sure the iron is on the correct settings for your fabric. For a hard to iron fabric a bit of steam can help but watch your fingers and do a test first.
Keep ironing the whole strip and you are finished!
And there you have it – beautiful, colorful bias tape. You can wrap it around a rectangle of cardboard to store it neatly.
HOW TO MAKE DOUBLE FOLD BIAS BINDING TAPE
Make bias strips the same way as the single fold tape instructions with one important difference.
Cut the strips 4 times the width of the bias tape maker. For a 1/2 inch (12mm) bias maker, cut the strips 2 inches wide.
Once you have single fold bias tape, fold the tape in half so one side is just wider than the other. It should be around 1/16 inch (1.5mm) difference.
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