How to Make Bias Tape

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Hey, you!

I’ve already gushed HERE about my adoration of bias facings! There’s nothing not to love. They are simple, relatively fuss-free, versatile, and, if that isn’t enough, pretty too!

Bias facings are often the perfect non bulky, clean finish for necklines and sleeveless armholes.

So if you’re ready to make some pretty, custom bias tape, let’s begin with the…

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE

Rules of Bias Facings

Rule #1: When finishing the edges of garments made from woven fabrics, you must cut your bias tape on, what else, but the bias. True bias. This will allow you to easily shape them to match the curved edges they will be finishing!

Rule #2: Bias tape should be made of fabric that is the same weight or lighter than your fashion fabric — this  way you avoid fugly, frustrating, bulky nonsense when finishing a curved edge!

And choose a fabric that has the same care requirements as the fashion fabric!

I try to stick to lightweight cottons, cotton/poly blends, and linen when I can. Because they are easier to cut, press, and apply.

If your fabric is light or medium weight, then consider buying extra ½ yard of your fashion fabric and using that to make custom bias tape for your project. It is the easiest way to go!

Rule #3: When finishing the edges of your knit garments, generally, you cut your strips on the crosswise. That is, in the direction of the greatest stretch — from selvage to selvage on a 2-way stretch knit.  These are called binding strips. However, you can cut knit strips on the bias when you want to make a decorative effect, for example, like with stripes.

Now, let’ learn…

How to Cut Bias Tape

Of course, you can buy bias tape pre-made. I’ve only seen single and double fold bias tapes in solid colours and in a poly/cotton blend at my local, big box craft stores. Not very exciting.

But I’ve got good news…

Bias tape is super easy to make.

Just think of all the fun you can have custom making your bias tape in fabrics with small prints, thin stripes, tiny dots, and bold contrasting colours!

However, I will say that until I made my own I thought very highly of pre-made bias tape. So if you want to take the pre-made route, no judgment here!

Now, there are many ways to measure, cut and make bias tape as there are days in the month. Here is one I like:

  1. Start with ½-yard of fabric that is the same weight or lighter than your fashion fabric.
  2. To begin, pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabric. Yes, you must!
  3. Next, straighten one cut edge of your fabric. It must be perpendicular to the selvage!
  4. Now, lay out your fabric on your cutting mat in a single layer, wrong side (WS) up. Fold the selvage closest to you over until it is parallel to or aligned with the straight cut edge. The resulting fold is true bias.

making-bias-tape-finding-true-bias

  1. At the fold, with grid ruler, measure in about ¼ inch and draw a line. Then, using your dressmaker’s shears or a rotary cutter, cut off the fold and discard. See image below.

bias-tape-trimming-off-fold

  1. Next, using the newly cut edge as your guide, with water-soluble pen or other marking tool, start drawing parallel lines that are from 1 or 1¼ inches apart.

Be careful not stretch your fabric or bias strips as you work!

  1. Once you’ve drawn all of your lines, you can cut along the drawn lines with your dressmaker’s shears. Or, you can forgo marking, and instead use a grid ruler to measure and a rotary cutter to cut in one go.

measuring-strips-on-fabric-and-cutting

If you zoom in on the image above, you can see where I’ve marked an additional parallel line in blue. In this example, I am measuring and cutting 1 inch wide bias strips.

Okay, then. Let’s move on to…

How to Join Bias Tape

I like to cut one long bias strip that is 3 to 4 inches longer than the edge it will finish! But sometimes you can’t.

So you may need to join shorter lengths of bias tape to create longer lengths. And it’s stupid simple:

FIRST, once you’ve cut your strips of bias tape, trim both ends to a perfect 90-degree angle.

squaring-ends-bias-tape-prepping-for-sewing

SECOND, overlap the squared ends, right sides together (RST).

Mark the stitching line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner with a marking tool for precise seaming and pin.

THIRD, go to your sewing machine and stitch on the diagonal, starting from the left corner like this…

strips-positioned-in-sewing-machine-for-joining

FOURTH, trim the seam allowance (SA) to ¼ inch and press the SAs open.

two-bias-strips-sewn-togehter-seam-allowances-trimmed

And behold your pretty custom made bias tape from the wrong and the right side…

two-bias-strips-joined-wrong-and-right-side-views

Now, how easy is that?!

How to Make Single-Fold Bias Tape

There are three types of bias tapes:

  1. Single-fold;
  2. Double-fold; and
  3. French or half fold

Have no fear. They are all super easy to make!

You can make single-fold bias tape with or without a bias tape maker. These are ½-inch bias tape makers in the image below…

bias-tape-makers

But let me share with you how to make your own single-fold bias tape WITHOUT a  bias tape maker…

  1. Cut bias tape that are 1 or 1¼ inches wide; these are maximums. Because strips wider than 1¼ are often impossible to mold around a curve so that you end up with a flat, pretty finish!
  2. Mist the strip with water from a spray bottle or use steam from your iron. And press, stretching the strip slightly along its entire length as you do.
  3. Now, fold one long, lengthwise edge to the WS by ¼ inch, pressing with steam or misting from a spray bottle as you go. Repeat on the other long, lengthwise edge. You can mark the fold lines with your preferred marking tool before beginning if you don’t feel comfortable eyeballing ¼ inch.

Alternatively, in step 3 above, you can fold the strip in half lengthwise, then fold the long edges in towards the center fold, and then press flat to remove the center fold.

making-tape-alternative-method

Voila! You have just made your own single fold bias tape.

single-fold-bias-tape-custom

That’s it. Easy, right?!

Okay, then. Let’s learn how to make double-fold bias tape…

How to Make Double-Fold Bias Tape

If you understand how to make single-fold bias tape, then you will have no problem making double-fold bias tape.

Because double-fold bias tape is just single-fold bias tape folded lengthwise down its center so that one side is ever so slightly wider than the other side. Like this…

double-fold-bias-tape-custom

Can you see that the bottom half is just slightly wider than the top half?!

Yep, that’s all there is to it!

And finally, if you want to go French…

How to Make Half-Fold or French Bias Tape

Going French is even easier than making single-fold or double-fold bias tape!

Here’s how in three simple steps:

  1. Cut a bias strip that is 1¼ or 2 inches wide.
  2. Mist the strip with water from a spray bottle or use steam from your iron. And press, stretching the strip slightly along its entire length as you do.
  3. Now, fold the strip in half so that the long, lengthwise raw edges are aligned exactly over each other. Give that fold a good press with steam or misting with water from your trusty spray bottle. And you’re done!

french-or-half-fold-bias-tape

This is my fave!

Sew easy tip: If you want to turn French bias tape into double-fold bias tape, just fold both long, lengthwise raw edges in to meet that center fold! Give those folds a good press and presto! You’ve got yourself double-fold bias tape.

RELATED: Click HERE to learn all about facings and why I love bias tape!

The End

Okay. You now know how easy it is to make your own bias tape to add a custom finish to any edge.

So now that you know how to make bias tape, it is time to learn how to apply it and finish those edges like a pro!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn the least you need to know about facings!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to apply your pretty custom bias tape to an edge!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to unleash your dressmaking super powers and learn how to sew a simple dress! Warning: This is a MEGA 5-part series!

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