Learn all about what is bias tape and how to use it. Bias tape is a wonderful sewing notion. It has a past, present, and future in your sewing lineup. Never feel biased towards this wonderful helper in so many of your sewing activities. Bias tape can be store-bought on a card or homemade. The future in sewing lies with making extra bias tape and keeping it in a stash of trims and tapes for all kinds of purposes and new projects.
What is Bias Tape?
Bias tape is simply long strips of fabric, joined together and pressed so that the raw edges meet in the middle. The value of bias tape is the fact that it is stretchy and flexible. The strips of fabric used for this tape are cut on the bias or diagonal of the fabric, thus producing the stretch.
What is Bias Tape - Types
The strips of fabric used to make bias tape vary in width and length depending on the project you are cutting them for. Bias tape comes in two main varieties - single fold and double-fold. Read more about types of bias tape.
Here you can see single fold vs double fold bias tape.
Single Fold Bias Tape
Single fold tape is cut on the bias and folded in half once to give a single fold. The raw edges face one another and meet in the middle as the bias strip is folded and pressed. Single fold bias tape is commonly used for facings, armholes and necklines in clothing.
FURTHER READING: How to Sew Single Fold Bias Tape
Double Fold Bias Tape
Double fold bias tape is folded twice and the raw edges are encased in the tape when both folds are complete. The first fold presses the edges towards the center and the second fold folds the tape in half.
FURTHER READING: How to Sew Double Fold Bias Tape
What is Bias Tape - Video
Watch my YouTube video showing you what is bias tape and how to use a bias tape maker. In addition, I post weekly sewing and craft videos, so please subscribe.
What is Bias Tape & How to Make it
There are 3 main steps to making bias tape
- Cut bias strips on the diagonal
- Join the strips
- Press the bias strips into single or double fold bias.
Step 1 - Cutting Bias Strips
The best fabrics to use have a tight weave and are lightweight. Cotton is typically used for bias tape as it presses easily. Look for pre-cuts called fat quarters to make your bias tape. These smaller pieces of fabric are generally the perfect size to make bias tape.
The bias is found by folding and cutting the fabric at a forty-five-degree angle. This cuts across the fibers of the fabric and the grain of the fabric. Instead of being a straight grain, the fabric is now cut across at an angle. The angle of the grain makes the fabric stretch.
Start with a square of fabric and mark the center diagonally. Then with your quilting ruler, mark out and cut lines at your desired width. It is best to cut with a rotary cutter for perfectly straight and clean edges. If you haven't used one before, read my article on how to use a rotary cutter.
Width of Bias Strips
The width of your strips will depend on whether you are making single or double fold bias tape.
- Single Fold - Cut strips double the finished width of the tape. For finished single fold bias tape of ½ inch, you will cut 1-inch strips.
- Double Fold - Cut strips x4 the finished width of the tape. For finished double fold bias tape of ½ inch, you will cut 2-inch strips.
Step 2 - Joining bias strips
Joining bias strips is a very important skill needed to lengthen the bias tape. The essential part of joining bias strips is the join must retain its elasticity. The bias strip was cut to make use of the stretch found when cutting across at a forty-five-degree angle. Sewing the strip straight across at the bottom will not continue this stretchy element of the fabric. The joins need to have the same elasticity as well. The elasticity is maintained by joining the pieces at an angle.
- You need two bias-cut strips that end with the same angle when they have their right sides next to each other.
- Place the two right sides together, and the one-piece will form a ninety-degree angle when matched right sides together. The short edges will not match up exactly but will have a small triangle at each side of the seam.
- Sew from the top tip of one triangle to the top tip of the other triangle.
Press the seam open and trim off any fabric that sticks out. Now you have a lovely, long piece of bias cut fabric strip to thread through the bias tape maker.
Step 3 - Press Bias Tape
The last step in making bias tape is to press it. You can read how to make bias tape to see several methods. The easiest way to press the bias tape is using a bias tape maker. These small devices come in several widths and are readily available from your local fabric store.
- Cut the end of the bias at an angle
- Thread it through the bias maker so the fabric comes out at the narrower end. It should be inserted the wrong side up.
- The bias maker will turn the edges in. Gently pull the end and press in an up and down motion. The edges will meet in the middle.
- You now have single fold bias tape. If you want double fold bias, then press the edges in half again. One side should be just slightly wider than the other.
What is Bias Tape UseD For
Bias tape, the handy tape of the future, has many uses. Practical, decorative and providing comfortable finishes are all possible with bias tape.
Here are some suggestions for using bias tape, especially the self-made variety, because it is unique and can be tailor-made to suit your needs.
- Binding Edges - Bias tape is perfect for neatening the edges of all sorts of projects. It makes a neat and strong finish. The long and hard work of making a quilt is perfectly finished with a self-made bias tape. Decorative blinds, cushion covers, and other home décor items benefit from some self-made or store-bought bias tape to finish off edges.
- Seam Finishes - Bulky seams or the seams that are visible inside jackets always look neater with a bound seam. The Hong Kong seam finish uses bias tape to finish off each side of the seam neatly.
- Draw Strings and Ties - Bias tape either store-bought or self-made makes good strings for something needing to be pulled together and tied. A stitched drawstring of self-made bias tape glides beautifully through a casing and ties at the front of a pair of drawstring trousers for example.
- Button Hole Loops - Bias cut loops stitched together to make the loops for buttons to be fastened on a beautiful gown make an elegant finishing touch. Bridal gowns with this kind of feature look really stylish.
- Decor and Trims - Use the bias cut tape to decorate cushions with diagonal stripes or a colorful trim. Mix and match different colors in the upholstery palette and turn cushions into a really interesting array of colors while neatening them at the same time.
- Piping - Using self-made bias as a casing for piping cord or just as a way to trim the edges of a cushion is another way of incorporating bias tape into your sewing. Bias tape brings out the different textures and colors in the fabric.
What is Bias Tape - Sewing Techniques
The technique used for sewing bias tape depends on whether your tape is single or double fold and your purpose.
Here are some bias tape sewing tutorials:
- How to Sew Bias Tape
- How to Sew Double Fold Bias Tape
- Sewing Bias Tape
- How to Sew Bias Tape Corners
- Bias Bound Seam
- Hong Kong Finish
- How to Sew a V Neck with Bias Tape
- Sewing Piping
- How to Bind a Quilt
What is Bias Tape - In Conclusion
Bias tape is definitely a very versatile accessory to your sewing kit. There are many opportunities to use this tape as you bind the edges of placemats, baby’s bibs or make straps and ties for bags or clothing. Of course, hoarding bias tape will never be amiss! A container full of different widths and colors of this useful tape means you can trim almost anything you choose to make. Bias tape really is a tape to be in contact with, and when you have it, you can confidently say – Yes, you have got it taped!