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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… 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)… 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… 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… 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 Johnston

Administrator 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 the 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!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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