Tutorial: Make your own Bias Tape

One of the great things about modern sewing is that there are so many ways to customize each project. We are no longer bound by the limits of the local fabric and craft store. If they don’t have what we want, we make it ourselves!

And often, those little customized details are what make the sewing projects out there simply amazing. One of the best skills I gained when learning to sew was how to make and use my own bias tape. So today I’m going to show you how to make your own! In case you’re wondering what bias tape is, here are a few of the projects I’ve used it for recently:

Little flags were sewn to bias tape to make a banner
Bias tape became straps for this fun little dress
Bias tape used as binding for a baby quilt
Bias tape is created by cutting strips, as you may have guessed, along the BIAS of the fabric rather than the grain. WHY do we need bias tape? Woven cottons, such as quilting fabrics, don’t have any stretch to them. But a strip of woven cotton cut on the bias has a bit of give, which is really helpful when you need to bind around any round or curved area. Bias tape won’t pucker on you the way fabric cut along the grain would.
Does that make sense? If not, don’t worry. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. In the meantime, just trust me. The stuff is awesome. πŸ™‚
So are you ready for another tutorial? Here goes!
THE SUPER-SIMPLE WAY TO MAKE YOUR OWN BIAS TAPE

MATERIALS
To make 1/2″ or 1″ double-fold bias tape you will need:

  • 1/2 yard of fabric (or any piece you decide is big enough after reading this tutorial)
  • Iron
  • Cutting tool and ruler
  • Sewing machine

STEP ONEΒ 

Lay your fabric out on your cutting mat like this:

Do you see a 45 degree angle line on your mat? Line the selvage edge of your fabric up with this line.

Begin cutting strips. For 1/2 inch double binding cut 2 inch strips.

I don’t usually use these short little strips for my binding since longer ones will come along. But I hold on to them just in case I need more length.

Watch your pile grow as you keep cutting…

STEP TWO

Now take two of your strips and place them like you see in the picture below with RIGHT SIDES FACING. The fabric I’m using in these pictures doesn’t have a right or wrong side, but if you’re using a printed fabric this is a very important step.

Use your ruler to draw a line before taking your strips to the machine. Or you can just eyeball it, which is what I do. πŸ˜‰

Now stitch the pieces together like this:

Here is what your stitch line will look like:

At this point I like to go through and sew all my strips together.Β Once I have one really looong bias strip, I take it to the cutting board to remove the excess.

Now cut off the extra fabric, but leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance. You’ll iron the seams open in the next step.

Cut off the little corners:

STEP THREE

Now take your bias strip to the ironing board and iron all the seams open. I find this part so satisfying. πŸ™‚

The right side of your bias strip will look like this:

Heres a picture of all the beautiful bias tape I’ve been working on. I love the colors together. πŸ™‚

STEP FOUR

Now fold your bias strip in half (WRONG sides together if there is a right and wrong side) and iron down the entire length.

Next, fold both raw edges in to the center of your bias strip (you will have an obvious center line from ironing the strip in half).

Finally, fold the whole piece in half again and iron as shown in the picture below. Keep one side of the bias tape just a tiny bit shorter than the other. (This is so that when you sew the bias tape on to a project, the back side of your bias won’t miss the stitches as you sew). UPDATED: See this post for more information on how to do this step.

This step can take awhile so turn on some music or a t.v. show and try not to burn your fingers. πŸ™‚ You can find tools for making bias tape at your local craft store (or Jo-anne’s), but I don’t mind doing it the old-fashioned way. I own the Simplicity bias-tape making machine but I’ve found there is nothing simple about it. I usually spend as much time trying to fix the bias tape that’s come out of the machine as I would have just doing it myself.

After you’ve finished ironing take a step back and admire your handiwork. You just made your own bias tape!

Β Now pair it up with some cute fabric and go sew something!

(If you happen to be wondering why I chose to make plain ole’ yellow bias tape in this tutorial instead of something more exciting, it’s because I was trying to match a correct yellow to the fabric bellow. Jo-anne’s only had a neon yellow bias tape (which I did use on another project) but I needed something much more buttery.

Now, go make piles and piles of beautiful bias tape. πŸ™‚

Next time I’ll show you how to sew bias tape on to your fabric, the proper way, the semi-proper way and the cheater way. They each have their own value. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading, friends! If you have a question please leave it in the comments section and I’ll get right back to you. Have a wonderful weekend!

Comments

  1. says

    Great tutorial! The bias looks just like it should, and I had never considered making my own until I heard you say one day that you would rather make it than buy it. Can you illuminate how we make one side just a tiny bit shorter than the other? I hesitate to ask, because it may be obvious to everyone else but poor me! πŸ™‚

  2. says

    Caila, you are amazing. Not only the bias tape tutorial, but the cool ways you labeled the pictures. How do you do that?

    • says

      Thanks Aunt Robin! I use Picnik.com to edit my photos and add the labels. But they are closing down in April. Guess I’ll have to find another site, boohoo. πŸ™‚

  3. says

    I just wanted to say: TYSM for saving my time, it’s also a great way to save money too! =) And less frustration, though I still keep getting mixed up making my own bias tape cause I’m new to sewing. =P

  4. says

    I tried to make bias tape the hard way. Now I’ll try it the easy looking way.
    I have the simplicity maker to but it is harder because I have to re iron where it is sewn together. I’ll take the long way. Thanks for the tutorial

    • says

      Since the seams go at an angle, no they are not very visible with this method. They don’t draw the eye like a straight seam would. Hope this helps!

  5. Carmen says

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial! You made making the bias tape look so easy and fun that I simply had to get the right equipment for it asap. Yesterday I read it, today I went and got it all. πŸ™‚
    Now I’ll always have the matching bias tape for every project. This is so neat!

  6. Janaki says

    Dear Caila, What a wonderfully clear and concise tutorial! Not to mention a great way to use up scrap fabric, use spare time and save money :-). I live in New Delhi India and though its cold enough to knit in winter just looking at woll makes you break out in sweat in summer, so I plan to take up sewing as a summer hobby. I am self-taught, so no expert and intend to bookmark your page for the future! Thanks for this!