It’s Day Four of National Sewing Month! Too see the daily blog posts, projects of the day, and more National Sewing Month details, click here.
Hi – I’m Melissa, and I blog at Melly Sews, as well as design sewing patterns at www.BlankSlatePatterns.com. I’m so happy to be here for National Sewing Month! Today I want to talk to you about bias tape.
So, what is bias tape? Bias tape is fabric that is cut on the diagonal, then has the raw edges folded to the wrong side. Single-fold bias tape has the edges folded once, double-fold has the edges folded twice. It can be used to finish seams or add a decorative touch to a garment, or both.
For years I had a hate/hate relationship with bias tape. I hated it because the polyester pre-made stuff was rough and often only in ugly colors. And I hated it because I always tried to save time by sandwiching it where I needed it to be and sewed it only once. Then it wouldn’t stay in place or would end up all wonky and I’d blame the bias tape instead of myself for sewing it incorrectly.
But now? I love bias tape. So, today I’m going to share how to properly attach bias tape, and how to make your own out of cute fabric so you don’t have to rely on the ugly and/or rough pre-made stuff from the store.
Here’s the RIGHT way (not the Melissa in a hurry way that will not save time!) to attach bias tape:
I’m going to show you how to use double-fold bias tape, as this is the more commonly used kind to finish edges – think place mats or necklines.
Start by unfolding the tape and pinning it to the wrong side of the fabric with the raw edges even.
Sew right in the fold of the bias tape.
Wrap the tape to the right side of the fabric and pin, just covering the stitching line with the folded edge.
Stitch very closely to the edge of the tape.
And on the back side it looks like this:
Because bias tape is cut on the diagonal, or bias, you can stretch it around curves. At corners, you’ll want to miter the corner – this is a good tutorial to show you how to do that.
How to Make Your Own Bias
Now let’s have some fun making your own bias tape and using it to add a professional looking finish and a pop of color and pattern to your sewing.
Here’s how to make your own bias tape – and you only have to sew 2 seams!
This is much easier than it appears. I usually use a fat quarter of fabric, and from that I can get 4 yards of 1/2″ double-fold tape or 8 yards of 1/2″ single-fold.
Start by folding your fabric on the bias – this is the same method I was taught to make a square out of a rectangular piece of paper. I always iron my fabric on the fold to mark it. Then, cut off the excess fabric to make this a square, and then cut along the bias fold.
Match two straight grain edges right sides together like this and sew. I use a 1/4″ seam when I do this.
Press the seam open. Your piece will look like this now, with the seam in the middle and the arrow marking the bias grain.
Using a ruler, mark lines on the bias grain of the fabric on the wrong side. If you are doing double-fold tape, your lines should be 4x the final width apart (i.e. if you want 1/2″ tape at the end, your lines need to be 1/2″ x 4 = 2″ apart). If you want single-fold tape, your lines should be double the width of the final tape width apart (i.e. if you want 1/2″ single-fold tape you do 1/2″ x 2 = 1″ apart).
Fold your fabric, imagining that the spaces are numbered like this on one side. On the other side, imagine the numbers start with 1 instead of 0. You’ll match the edges, so you’re pinning the #1 space on one edge to the #1 space on the other side. The arrow shows where the #4’s would line up. Stitch this seam with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and press open.
Your sewn tube will look like this – one on each side is offset a little.
Now start cutting on your lines. I use scissors and go slowly. You could try a rotary cutter, just be careful not to cut through the bottom layer.
Continue cutting until you have a pile of unfolded bias tape.
Now, you could use a cardboard bias tape rig (tutorial on MellySews.com), but I prefer to use these Clover Bias Tape Maker tips. You feed the bias tape through and then iron as you pull the tip away from the iron.
When you’re done ironing (which goes by pretty fast) you get tape that looks like this (outside on top, wrong side on bottom).
If you then want to turn this into double-fold bias tape, you’ll fold it in half by hand and iron again.
I save the little pieces of cardboard from my store bought bias tape (I do still use it on occasion) and wrap the handmade tape on them.
Happy National Sewing Month, and I hope you come by to visit me at Melly Sews!
To find more projects from Melissa, check out her designer profile and get all of her social media links.