Tips for Easy Sewing Patterns: Make Your Own Bias Tape

Oct 29, 2012

What makes an easy sewing pattern? A few weeks ago I wrote about using patterns multiple times-the second time is always easier than the first, and the third time puts me on Pattern Easy Street.

After pressing the strip in half, unfold
and press the top edge down.
Then press the bottom edge up. (The
pin is not there for decoration. It frees
your fingers for folding and pressing.)

Fold in half again and give it
a final press.
Here's another technique that I frequently find myself using to simplify things--finishing edges with bias tape instead of facings or flip linings. Bias tape edges look particularly cute on children's clothing. They have the added advantage of making these little garments easier to get on and off by eliminating the need to tuck in errant facings. By using a contrasting color or pattern for the binding, you can also add a little design touch at necklines and sleeve openings.

Quilters, of course, are usually experts at binding edges. These days beautifully bound edges are also showing up on small totes, clutches, and kitchen accessories.

Prepared bias tape is found in nearly every fabric shop-and goodness knows that I own my share. But I'm here to tell you that making your own is surprisingly easy. The bonus is that your options for color and design are only limited by your imagination.

Here's how to make standard double-fold tape:

1. Cut fabric on the bias four times the finished width. For example, for a final size of ½", cut 2" strips. Note: I find it easier to first stitch all the strips together to make one long strip.

2. Pin the right end of the strip to the ironing board. (Doing this eliminates the need to grow a third arm.)

3. Press the whole strip in half.

4. Unfold. Press the top edge down to almost meet that center fold line.

5. Press the bottom edge up to almost meet the center fold line.

6. Fold in half again and press the center fold in place again.

That's it. You'll soon get a rhythm going and the process moves along quickly.

If you're looking for some easy projects--both with and without bias binding--check out the latest patterns from Stitch magazine 

And here's my question. When you need bias tape, do you usually:

a) buy it ready-made,

b) make your own as described above,

c) use a bias tape tool?

Let us know!

Happy stitching,


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Comments

on Oct 29, 2012 4:11 AM

I use a bias tape maker. your steps look interesting, but I have never had bias that wanted to behave like yours seems to !

Also, you can make it from fancy fabrics when you use a bias tape maker.

I have also heard of a method where you place a pin on your ironing board. Pin it in a similar manner to when you pin a flower to your lapel...woven in and out. The exposed area in the centre should be the exact width you want the folded bias to be.

fold the edges of the bias over on both sides at the end like you have done in your photo, slip them under the pin, and then proceed with pulling and pressing like you do with a bias tool. This means you can make sizes which bias tools don't come in, you have less fiddling and burnt fingers. I find it works best if you do it the opposite direction from how you use the bias tool.

Sandy in the UK

myramahm wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 4:36 AM

I make my own since I was taught at school in 1955, as I can then get the same colour and pattern as the item that I am making.

I have used bought bias usually for Christmas things.

I do not possess a bias tool.  I have thought about it, but each time I look at them they have gone up in price so decide that I can do without.

on Oct 29, 2012 4:51 AM

I create my own, as it gives me the freedom to make it different.

I have never use the tool, it looks quite complicated.

Buy it if it is a piece than doesn't need extra touch, or if I'm late in finishing it.

Good article, like the extra help with the pin :)

on Oct 29, 2012 4:51 AM

I create my own, as it gives me the freedom to make it different.

I have never use the tool, it looks quite complicated.

Buy it if it is a piece than doesn't need extra touch, or if I'm late in finishing it.

Good article, like the extra help with the pin :)

surfiemom wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 5:29 AM

I have been making my own for years.  It is almost impossible to get just the right  bias  for an item unless you are prepared to put an alternate colour or print as a finish.  Making your own bias is more economical and you get more satisfying results.

surfiemom wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 5:29 AM

I have been making my own for years.  It is almost impossible to get just the right  bias  for an item unless you are prepared to put an alternate colour or print as a finish.  Making your own bias is more economical and you get more satisfying results.

Athens wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 5:59 AM

I do all three depending on what I am doing.  If it is going to be visible, I like to make my own.  If it's going to be hidden and the fabric I am using is 'sturdy' I will tend to go for the ready made.  Most of the time, however, I make my own to get the fabric match/contrast I want.   If I want a very narrow bias I use the bias tool to save my fingers from the burns.   I also make continuous bias prior to cutting rather than stitch all those strips together one at a time.  (This is a skill I learned when I began to quilt after decades of garment stitching).  If any one is interested in the continuos bias, just google "how to make continuous bias" and you will not only get written directions but helpful illustrations.

Sew4Now wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 6:31 AM

I prefer to make my own bias tape using the 'continuous loop' method for cutting the strip. The options for decorative accents when I use my 'home-made' binding is what drives me to make this little bit of extra effort.

on Oct 29, 2012 7:09 AM

I make my own bias tape to custom fit, usually with my bias tape tool.

littlestmama wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 7:19 AM

c) use a bias tape tool

AmyLouShep wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 7:42 AM

I have made my own bias tape, however, most of the time I buy it.  I do not have a binding machine.  Thank you for the simple instruction on how to make bias tape.  I will use your method from now on.  AmyLou  

janetleora wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 7:46 AM

Like most of us, I usually make my own because it's so quick and easy to grab from my stash whether I want to match or just coordinate.  I use a tool and the trick I learned to make it easier is just to keep the iron close to the tool as the fabric feeds out.  I do have lots of ready made (store-bought) on hand that I picked up on sale or someone gave me.  I would use it on doll clothes or maybe where it wouldn't be seen too much.

squid60 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 8:02 AM

Bias tape is a wonderful thing. I often make my own as the sky's the limit with printed fabrics and such, but if I find basic colors (white, black, tan, etc.) of ready-made bias tape in bulk at a reasonable price, I often buy a boatload to have on hand. I often use it to finish seams.

Bonneesews wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 8:04 AM

I usually use the 'French fold' method.  After the bias is cut, fold in half and sew to wrong side of project, bring folded edge over to right side and attach.  

JDNow wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 8:31 AM

I love the surprise of a contrasting bias edge inside a garment. Plus, I live in Southern Calif so it's not necessary to line jackets and bound edges are a great option.

Also, purchased bias tape is not folded evenly; one folded edge is slightly shorter. Knowing this can make all the difference when sewing the bias tape.

check out my sewing blog WeSew@blogspot.com

on Oct 29, 2012 8:55 AM

I always make my own, it is less expensive and I can use any fabric I want...

I have never used a tool...they always appear too complicated and way too expensive.

The ready-made bias tape is narrow on one side for a reason...that is the edge that is sewn on first and then when the tape is flipped over the raw edge, the wider edge will overlap the narrow edge (on the opposite side) as it is sewn into place

lsyrek wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 9:43 AM

I make my own using the tube method.  It is so easy and quick and you get 10 yards of bias tape from a half yard of fabric. (using 2" wide strips)

Dolly in the USA

Mizrae13 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 10:25 AM

I've always made my own bias tape out of fabric that compliments the piece I'm working on.  The selection of ready made bias tape is so limited, and hasn't changed much since I was a kid.  Making it allows for more creativity in my work.

maggiemuffin wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 10:41 AM

Please, please cancel the daily messages. I DO NOT READ THEM!!

Scop wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 10:42 AM

I avoid using bias tape.  It's only necessary when binding curved edges, so I also avoid curves.

on Oct 29, 2012 10:46 AM

I hardly ever use purchased bias binding anymore. I've used the "pin in the ironing board method" and once I figured out how to use the binding tools (they come in various widths) that is my method of choice for double fold bias. I've made bias from wool for a wool suit, and just about everything else except silky fabrics. When you're picky, you're picky!

EllenS@2 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 11:57 AM

I usually use a bias tape tool, much easier than free hand.

JudeMB wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 12:30 PM

I tend to make my own bias tape pretty much as you've described as I never seem to find just what I'm looking for in the store.

Judi

Susan Fatemi wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 1:06 PM

Now you've made the bias tape, what do you do with it? When I used to use "store-bought" bias, I'd press it open, sew one side to the fabric by machine, press it to the inside w/ the fold and slip-stitch it to the inside.

Then I saw Louise Cutting demonstrate "French" bias which is the same thing, but the fabric is folded double.

The couple of times I've made quilts, hot pads, etc. I did cut my own bias strips and machine stitched on both sides, but you wouldn't want to do that on fine garments. Commercial bias tape is such rubbish now, but I do like the fold lines to use as stitching guides.

on Oct 29, 2012 1:28 PM

I use what others have called the French method. I like having two layers of fabric on the bias especially if it is the edge of a quilt or another place that gets lots of wear and tear.  I like being able to pick my fabric and the amount of bias I get in my strips.

on Oct 29, 2012 1:28 PM

I use what others have called the French method. I like having two layers of fabric on the bias especially if it is the edge of a quilt or another place that gets lots of wear and tear.  I like being able to pick my fabric and the amount of bias I get in my strips.

ReanaZ wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 2:01 PM

b its easier and faster than trying to buy it

ElenaD@2 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 5:07 PM

I make my own, pretty much the way it's described above pinned into the ironing board. I've never tried the tool as it seem a little too fiddly.  I've used store bought tape n the past and not liked the texture; it's easier to make it and then you can also customize it in terms of fabric and size.

on Oct 29, 2012 8:27 PM

Hi!  I do own a bias tape maker and love it. I have several tip sizes so that makes several sizes easier. Bias tape is a bit more forgiving than just using straight grain for edges. I'm by no means an expert at it, but always eager to learn more. Oh, by the way, I am not above buying in it a pinch.

LIT

NancyS@120 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 8:48 PM

Great. I make my own; mostly with the tool. I usually want the tape to match, thus I make.  Thanks for the tutorial.

Nancy

emmer97006 wrote
on Oct 29, 2012 9:55 PM

i generally make my own, as i can then have custom colors and higer quality fabric. but i use the spiral technique to make it, because it is fast and there is no chance of sewing those ends together backwards and having an L-shaped bias tape. :-) also, the spiral technique seems almost magical for my young students--they are always surrprised how well it turns out and the seemingly endless amount of bias they end up with.

also, i generally just press mine in half. i can adjust  the needle placement or the foot i use to allow sewing at what would be the quarer width press mark, which is quicker and easier than than extra folding and pressing.

on Oct 29, 2012 10:12 PM

I usually make my own.  I have used the bias tape tools in different sizes, but I used the old standby of starting with the pressed bias, take a long pin and pin it into your ironing board leaving a space about the same size as your finished tape.  Scoot your bias that you started under the pin, (you can add a 2nd one about 6 inches away, and put the starter bias under that too.  Pulling through the pins will make the strip turn into the correct shape.  Iron as the tape goes through the pins.  Adjust along the way if it gets wonky.  This a quick way to get the bias into the 3rds that we want.

homecraftnut wrote
on Oct 30, 2012 9:41 AM

make my own

Voyajr243 wrote
on Nov 2, 2012 3:21 PM

Sorry this comment is so late.  

I'm new to sewing and quilting, and decided that making continuous bias tape (aka continuous bias "tube" or "loop") was a skill I should acquire.  After puzzling over the directions in three different books, I finally found two videos on YouTube that explained it all.  I tried it and, Ta-Daaa!  mounds and mounds of continuous bias tape.  The skies opened, beams of light poured from the heavens, celestial choirs were heard.  It was so great, I'm gonna do it again.  Then all I have to do is either buy one of those little bias tape folder thingies, or do the "pin in the ironing board" method that Sandy Snowden describes below (there's a YouTube video for that, too).