Today's article is an in depth technique tutorial on how to make Bias Tape. Bias tape is a strip of fabric cut along the bias of the fabric. See Sewing 107 for details on fabric parts. It is used to finish or bind the edges of fabric or a project mostly. It can also be used to make straps, ties and piping. The advantage of bias tape over strips cut on the straight grain is that
A) It does not fray
B) It can curve around corners
C) It is slightly stretchy
All these features make it excellent for curved edges and hems. It can also be used to tighten necklines and armholes. This is not to say that strips cut on the straight grain have no use, No. They are great for straps, ties and belt loops too because they are strong, but not ideal for curved edges.
There are two basic kinds of Bias tape
1) Single Fold
2) Double fold
They are made exactly the same way, the only difference being an extra fold made in the double fold variation. The type of bias tape you choose to make also affects the finished size of the tape when it is sewn. It'll make more sense in the illustrations below.
How to Cut out Bias tape
• Fold the fabric at a 45° angle, i.e. the width touching the selvedge
• Measure out 2 inch strips along the edge and cut. The size of the strip varies according to the finished size you need.
• For a single fold bias tape- Crease the strip down the middle and Fold the edges to the crease and press.
• For a double fold bias tape - Crease the strip down the middle and fold the edges to the crease and press. Then fold the two edges together again and press
How to determine the width of the bias tape
For those that may have come across readymade bias tape, you can see they are labeled as 1/2 inch single fold bias tape, or 1/4 inch double fold bias tape. This tells you how wide the finished tape is and how many times it was folded.
1) For single fold bias tape - Always multiply by 2. For example, if I want to make 1/2 inch width, then I will cut out 1 inch strips because when you fold it, it will become 1/2 inch wide
2) For double fold bias tape - Always multiply by 4. For example, if I want to make 1/4 inch width, then I will cut out 1 inch strips because when you fold it, it will become 1/4 inch wide
How to use Single fold Bias Tape
1) As a facing, edge finish and Hemming- Open up the fold of the tape and place it right sides together on the fabric edge. The crease on the tape and the stitching line on the fabric should match up. Sew along the crease.
Trim down the seam allowance if necessary. Fold the entire bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric. Press and stitch a second line along the edge of the bias tape.
2) As a trim - Do the opposite of the above by starting from the wrong side of the fabric (right side of tape to wrong side of fabric) sew, trim and then fold the tape out to the right side of the fabric to create a visible trim.
How to use Double fold Bias Tape
1) For binding the edge of fabric - This can be done in two ways.
A) Trim off the seam allowance from the fabric to be bound. Sandwich the raw edge of the fabric between the folded edges of the bias tape. Secure with pins or clips. Sew along the edge of the tape
B) Open up the fold of the tape and place the right side of the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric. The crease on the tape and the stitching line on the fabric should match up. Sew along the crease. Trim down the seam allowance.
Fold the open edge of the bias tape into its original position enclosing the edge of the fabric and top stitch along to the edge.
2) For making straps - Simply keep the two folded edges together and sew them together.
How to join strips of bias tape together
Place Strip (1) horizontally and strip (2) vertically, with the sides to be joined overlapping. Then stitch at a 45° degree angle. Trim the edge and press open sem allowance.
How to make continuous bias tape
This a quick way of making very long strips of bias tape.
1. Take a square of fabric and split into 2 triangles (You can also cut triangles out of another Triangle or a Rectangle)
2. Place the 2 triangles side by side so that the 2 blue lines meet (These lines are not on the bias)
3. Flip Piece (b) over piece (a), so that the blue lines are together
4. Stitch along the blue line at a 1/4inch (6mm) Seam allowance
1. After stitching, iron the seam allowance open. On the Wrong side of the fabric, draw lines parallel to the long edges, the width of the bias you need.
2. Flip the fabric over to the right side, and fold the corners (a) and (b) inwards. The wrong side of the fabric will become visible. Align the lines you have drawn, making sure one corner is a step lower (point b). This is where you will start cutting.
3. Pinch and pin the edges together making sure to pin at the seam allowance level i.e. 1/4inch (6mm) inwards. I ensure that the pin goes through the 2 matched lines at the same point
4. Stitch together along the pinned edge.
Starting from the extended corner, cut along the lines. It should form a continuous tape.
Note that the concept of single and double fold is not set in stone as you can convert one to the other, keeping in mind that the finished size will change. Also the folded edges of the tape do not necessarily have to meet at the centre as suggested above.
I could for instance make a 5/8inch single fold bias tape by cutting a 1inch wide strip (rather than a 1.25inch strip) , then fold only 3/16 inch (roughly) for the edges. But when in doubt, stick to the guidelines given above.
That brings us to the end of this tutorial. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me or leave a comment.