How to Make and Sew Bias Tape

Hi, and happy Wednesday! Today I’m gonna share some tips on working with bias tape and simple steps for making your own bias tape.

First, what is bias tape? It’s a strip of fabric that’s cut on the bias (diagonal of the fabric). The long edges of the strip are then folded into the center and pressed. You can buy bias tape in almost any color or shade you need. However, if you want your bias tape to match your fabric exactly (and your fabric is textured or has patterns on it), you can also make your bias tape at home.

bias strips

So, what do you use it for? Bias tape can be used to finish seam allowances (ex. on the inside of a jacket) or finish necklines and arm holes (while also making them more sturdy). The reason the fabric is cut on the bias, is because it allows the tape to bend along curves with more ease.

bias strip and neckline

Tips For Sewing Bias Tape- 2 Methods

Method One: You can fold the tape over the raw edges or seams and pin them in place (the bias tape would be completely covering the raw seams). Then sew both sides onto the garment at once. If you are using this method, I highly recommend these three tips: 1) sew very slowly 2) use a washable glue stick to hold the tape in place 3) use a lot of pins!

Method Two: (my preferred method): Open the bias tape (so that it isn’t folded in half but the edges are still folded into the center) and pin one side of it onto the back/inside of the unfinished edge (see image below). Sew in place. Then fold the bias strip over so it’s completely covering the raw edge, sew in place. Then fold the bias tape over the front of the garment and sew in place. I like this method because it eliminates the possibility of the garment slipping out of the tape during sewing (which creates holes). Using this method has saved me a lot of time and frustration!

sewing on a bias strip. How to sew a bias strip

How to Make Bias Tape

To make your own bias tape, lay the fabric out with the selvage going along the bottom edge of the fabric. (In this example, I used a shirt piece that I cut incorrectly which means you can’t easily see the selvage in the picture- so, if you need more info on how to tell which way the selvage is click____

  1. First, decide how thick you want your bias strip to be- the thicker it is, the easier it is to work with. I cut a 2 inch fabric strip and ended up with a .8 Inch (2 cm) bias strip. So, remember that the strip will be folded into the center and then in half, which means, you need to cut the original strip thicker than you want it to be in the end.
  2. Cut your fabric along the bias so that you have an edge that is easier to cut your bias strip from.
  3. Using a ruler or tape measure and a washable marker/pencil, mark where you want the strip to start and end and how thick you want it to be. I made a mark 2 inches from the bias edge.
measuring bias strip

3. Make little marks all along the length of the bias to make a cut line/guide. Use a meter stick and line it up against the marks you made.

making a cut line
getting ready to cut the bias strip

4. Using a rotary cutter cut along the meter stick. If you don’t have a meter stick, you can draw a solid cut line all along the length of the fabric and you can just cut along the line.

cut the bias strip

5. Next, using an iron, fold one side of the fabric, along the long edge, in to the center and press. Fold the other side into the center and press (each raw edge will meet in the center as show below).

bias strip

6. Fold the bias strip in half and press (there will be no raw edges exposed at this point- the center where the two raw edges meet will be the fold line).

bias strip
This is a store-bought piece of bias strip but I thought the lighter color shows up better.

You can also use a bias strip maker. I love my bias strip maker but it didn’t work particularly well with this type of fabric so I did it by hand this time. If you’re using a bias strip maker, you simply slide the fabric into the big opening and make sure that the fabric is folding into the center evenly on both sides. If the you’re having a hard time getting the fabric through to the other side, you can use something small and thin the push into the slit (which you can see in the red part of the maker) and use it to push the fabric along- I use a bobby pin. Once the fabric is coming through the other side, use the handle and slowly continue pulling the fabric through while pressing.

Bias strip maker

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

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