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BIAS TAPE: what is it, how to make it, and why you NEED it! (VIDEO included)

Bias Tape is a wonderful thing.  In fact, it’s something that I have used from the very beginning of my sewing adventure…and is not something to be feared.  In fact, once you understand the stuff, you will LOVE it!

However, my old tutorial showing you about bias tape and cutting on the bias, is well, really old.  And it lacked some pictures.  So every time I link to it, I end up having to add a bit more information….and it always aggravated me.

So this post has been on my mind to finish for a very LONG time.  Blah.  But it deserved a new post…..because Bias Tape is a wonderful thing to use while sewing!!!

And I even included A VIDEO down below.  (And yes, I chatted and chatted and chatted.  Forgive me.)

I really do use this stuff all the time.  Around hems, arm holes, neck lines, to make elastic casings, to finish off openings of any kind, etc.  And it can either be used to add a great POP of detail to your projects or can be attached secretly.  It’s such great stuff!

And a recent discovery — Bias Tape Makers.  I’m not sure why it took me this long to try these, but I will never make bias tape without them again.  (I included a video down below to show you exactly why!)

Okay, first of all, WHAT IS BIAS TAPE??

To understand Bias Tape, you need to understand what the word “bias” means.  I have mentioned this several other times, but lets throw it in here too…..as a refresher. :)

If you look at a piece of fabric that you’ve purchased from the store, it has two edges that are machine finished, which is called the selvage.  (More on selvage here.)  The two selvage edges are always parallel to each other and are a way to find a straight edge to your fabric.  If you place your fabric down in front of you, using your selvage edge as your starting edge, cut the fabric off at a 90 degree angle.  If you look really closely at your fabric, you will see tiny lines of fabric interlocking each other (if it’s a woven fabric).  And those grain lines will run exactly parallel and perpendicular to your selvage edge.

Now, if you fold your cut edge (the one on the left) over at a diagonal until it lines up with selvage edge (along the bottom)…..you are creating a diagonal fold.  And this fold is called the BIAS LINE.  And the BIAS LINE is always a 45 degree angle from the selvage.

And if you cut along that fold…….you are cutting along the bias.  Make sense??

Okay……we’ll get more into making the bias tape in a second……but I just wanted to be sure you understood what the word BIAS actually meant.

So, next let’s talk about what BIAS TAPE is.

If you’ve ever been to the store and looked around the sewing supplies, you’ve likely seen displays of thread, zippers, buttons, and more.

There are also usually several rows of Bias Tape.

Bias Tape comes in SINGLE FOLD and DOUBLE FOLD……..and in a variety of widths.  (But they are limited in colors and you can make this stuff for so much cheaper than the price you pay at the store…..hence the reason for today’s post!)

Now, what in the world do you use this stuff for?!?!

Ha…..good question!

Well, if you pull your fabric across the BIAS, if actually has some stretch to it.  See that??

But if you just pull the fabric across the regular grain, it won’t really stretch at all.

And because Bias Tape has some stretch, it curves really nicely around curved edges of fabric…….whereas strips cut along the grain will pucker and bulge.

So, SINGLE FOLD and DOUBLE FOLD…….why are there 2 choices?

Well, they’re used for different purposes.  Single Fold is nice because it’s essentially a long strip of fabric with both ends already folded under, ready for use.  But since it’s cut on the bias, it can curve around edges really well……and lays so beautifully.  It can be used to hem curved edges (like a circle skirt), around neck lines, etc.  But it can also be used as ready made strips of trim that you can add to your projects.

Like this Rainbow Bias Tape Skirt.  Cute, right??

Double Fold is actually what I use most often.  It sandwiches around a fabric edge and finishes it off really nicely, with a perfectly crisp edge of Bias Tape.  Double Fold can be used for hems and necklines like the Single Fold…….it just depends on if you want to see the bias tape from the front of your project or not.

But using a contrasting color of Bias Tape can really make a project POP!

Like the Bias Tape I used to finish off the edge of these Gauze Swaddle Blankets.

It really is great stuff!

So, now…..how do you make BIAS TAPE??

Well, remember how to find the bias?  Well, fold along the bias line and cut a straight line with your scissors.

Now, you have a bias edge to start from.

Measure from that bias edge and cut the fabric into a strip the width you need it.  Since I use 1/2 inch Double Fold Bias Tape the most often, I measured over 2 inches from the bias cut edge and cut as much as I need.

  • If you want to make SINGLE FOLD Bias Tape…..multiply your desired width by 2. (For example, if you need 1/2 inch wide single fold tape, multiplying 1/2 x 2 is 1.  So, cut a 1 inch wide strip in the length that you need.)
  • If you want to make DOUBLE FOLD Bias Tape…..multiply your desired width by 4.  (For example, if you need 1/2 inch wide double fold tape, multiplying 1/2 x 4 is 2.  So, cut a 2 inch wide strip in the length that you need.)

If you look really closely at your bias tape, you’ll be able to see that instead of the grain running parallel and perpendicular to the long straight edge, they’re actually at a diagonal.

Now, more than likely, you’ll have to piece your strips together to create one long piece of bias cut fabric.  But, if you want to try the coolest trick….check out this tutorial on Cutting a CONTINUOUS Strip of Bias Tape from One Square of Fabric (and only one seam).

Okay…….now, let’s get folding and ironing.

But there’s the regular old standard way of folding and ironing……OR, if I offer you one piece of advice today, it’s to purchase these Bias Tape Maker Tools.  I bought this set for $10 and let me tell you…….it has saved me a ton of time!

And just for fun, I created a little video to show you how these things work, instead of trying to take pictures of the process.  And I’ll stop writing anything more about them…..because there’s plenty of talking in the video. (haha….sorry!)

Pretty cool little tools, right???  (And thanks for sitting through that video.  I sure had fun with it….but maybe I need to not talk so much??!)

But in case you’d rather not purchase the tools, here’s how to fold and iron Bias Tape.

Fold your strip of bias cut fabric in half lengthwise (wrong sides together).  Iron flat.

Then, open it up and fold both edges in toward that iron line you just created.  Now iron flat again.  This is what we call SINGLE FOLD BIAS TAPE.

Now, to create DOUBLE FOLD BIAS TAPE, re-fold it along that very first ironed fold you created….and that’s it!

Nicely folded edges, all tucked away…….ready for sewing!

Now, something that I couldn’t explain in the video, is that standard Bias Tape that you purchase has one edge that is a little wider than the other.  There’s a reason for it (but I don’t always need it, so I don’t always include it).  But if you prefer a wider edge, it will actually help save some aggravation.  The reason for it, is that it gives some extra room when you’re sandwiching around your fabric, so that both edge wrap around evenly.  Also, you usually place it along the back side of the fabric, so that while you’re sewing, you’ll be sure to catch it with your needle.

So, while you’re folding your bias tape back in half lengthwise, just fold it so that the back edge is a little wider than the top edge.  Got it??

Okay, now how do you attach Bias Tape???

Well, there are 2 methods that I use.  The CHEATER METHOD….and then the PROPER method! Haha! :)

If I’m not that concerned about catching both layers of bias tape with my needle, I use the CHEATER METHOD.  And that just means that I open up the double fold just once and then sandwich it around the edge of whatever project I’m making.  Then I pin the tape in place (but actually I don’t….I rarely pin).

Then I sew it in place.

And if you put the wider edge of the tape along the back, you’ll see that it has plenty of room to be caught with your needle.

Now, onto the PROPER METHOD.

Grab your Double Fold tape and find the wider side (like we talked about above).  Open it up to the very raw edge and line up the edge of the tape with the edge of your fabric.  Make sure that you are placing the RIGHT side of the tape along the WRONG side of your fabric.  Pin in place.

Once you are more comfortable with this…..you may actually skip the pinning part.  I don’t like pinning because I feel like it gives me less control around the curves.  But as you’re practicing, use pins until you’re more comfortable.

Then, keeping that raw edge of the bias tape lined up with the raw edge of the fabric, begin sewing along the first FOLD of the Bias Tape.

You can ignore all the marks on your sewing machine and just make sure you are sewing right along that fold.  (Keep those 2 edges even too.)

Once you finish, it should look like this.

Now, fold the bias tape up and around the edge of your fabric and pin the bias tape closed.  See how nicely this stuff curves?  Beautiful. :)

Sew along the inner fold of the bias tape, securing it to the fabric.

Now, because you already attached the back side of the bias tape, you don’t have to worry about catching it on the back side.  In fact, your seam may have missed some of the bias tape along the back….but it doesn’t matter at all.  (And generally you will be sewing with a matching thread so that you don’t even see the seam.)

And that’s it……..pretty cool stuff, right?!?!

If I forgot anything, let me know!  But hopefully that helps clarify any confusion about Bias Tape.

So, grab some fabric and start cutting some strips of……because you have some Bias Tape to make!!!!

Good luck!

Ashley

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Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Bias tape: what is it, how to make it, and why you need it! (video included)
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Comments

  1. Maria Orosco says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! You are so thorough! I came here knowing nothing about bias tape. I'm making my first apparel. I feel I know EVERYTHING now and can do it! And, no, you don't talk too much. Your energy is contagious! Thank you!

  2. Ann says:

    How do you join the ends of double fold bias tape when you are sewing one piece of tape all the way around a piece of fabric using the "cheater" method?

  3. Gail Phelan says:

    I have the little gizmos, but no idea what size to cut the strips…

    1. Tee says:

      I think you just double the "outcome" edge. The packet of mine gives them in mm, so 6 = cut 12mm (roughly half an inch); 12 = cut 24mm (roughly 1"); 18 = cut 36mm (roughly 1.5"); 25 = 50mm (roughly 2")

  4. Anonymous says:

    This truly helipad omg!!

  5. Vicky says:

    I really liked the instructions and video I can make quilts and make attempts at panels I struggle with making the binding for the quilts I always bought the bias tape and put it on my quilts but I really want to learn how to do the binding myself I have watched videos one tube and asked friends and others with this part of sewing and I have to admit I’m lost

  6. Melissa says:

    This is a FABULOUS tutorial! I’ve been sewing for a long, long time, but have never been brace enough to try bias tape. I’m hooked now! One question I have – if you’re using single fold, do you sew it on in the same way you do double fold, or do you just sandwich it?

  7. Rachel says:

    You are my new hero! Thank you for explaining this in such great detail and answering all questions that kept popping up on my head !

  8. Shanel says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. Quick Question, I am interested in making a tube top out of 100% cotton, do I need bias tape so that it won’t create that wavy edge in the material?

  9. Gaelle says:

    Your instructions are excellent – best I’ve seen. Only one suggestion/addition/tip. Before I sew the 2nd seam (the finished edge) I often find it helpful to trim the previously sewed seam slightly to reduce the bulk. It make the fold over easier and results in a flatter seam.

  10. Kimberly says:

    Any tips for making and using knit bias tape for necklines that need to stretch over kiddos head. I’d love to make a whole roll of it so I don’t have to cut 2inch by whatever each time. Will it work in those bias makers? Any insight with cotton lycra bias?

  11. Phyllis Morris says:

    Thank you for the video. It could not have been any clearer. I am going to get one of those bias makers. You don’t know how many people you have helped with this video. God bless you.

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  13. Isabel says:

    Thank you so much, this was of great help, didnt even know what bias tape was ?

  14. Lannes says:

    Best explanation for Bias and bias tape ever! I’m a sewing noobie and I was trying to figure it out but could not!

    Thank you!!

  15. shopping stores near me says:

    always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I enjoy but dont get a whole lot of link appreciate from

  16. Tory says:

    Thank you!!

  17. Shelia Minor says:

    I am new at making bias tape haven’t made any yet but I am making aprons and just experimenting right now because so I can get good when I get ready to make an apron for my grand daughter -n-law and my new great granddaughter my 1st little girl out of 10 boys and I want them perfect when I give them to them!!!!!!!! So Thank You For Showing Me How To Do This:) :)

  18. Sewing Made Simple says:

    Found you on Pinterest! You are so cute. Loved the video;) Thank you for this tutorial. I added it to my board and off to share on my page.

    *xoxo*
    Amber

  19. Natou says:

    I really love You, U have a such way even though U r not close to me I feel like I can do everything U explain. U r amaizing…….

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  21. Nina says:

    I can not wait to try them!

  22. Nicole H says:

    I loved your video and you totally didn’t chat too much! You make it look so easy that I want to try making my own bias tape before I make your potholders.

  23. Diane W says:

    Ha…ive had those bias tape folder things for many years and never used em. Just keep buying the boring stuff from the store. After watching your video, im going to make it now! And i use bias tape alot…for potholders and aprons and……all kinds of things. Thank you for the video.

  24. Lynn says:

    Great instructions on using bias tape, I always love reading your tutorials and seeing what you have made. I probably don’t use bias tape as often as I could and the method of cutting it from a square of fabric was shown to me many years ago however I made some recently and can definitely recommend this method. When using it around the edge of fabric my method is different to the ones shown above.

    1. First sew the narrower side of your double fold bias tape to the right side of the fabric (right sides together),
    2. Next fold the bias tape in half to cover the raw edges.
    3. Then stitch ‘in the ditch’ from the right side, this hides the stitching line but catches the the other side due to it being slightly wider.

    Keep up the good work!

    Lynn x

    1. Kristina says:

      I don’t understand this suggestion. I am pretty new at sewing though. Is there somewhere that maybe shows a couple pictures that explain this?

  25. Hannah B says:

    You totally did not chat too much! Your video is fantastic!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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