ETA: Also check out the continuous loop bias tape method for a faster method (it’s just slightly trickier the first time).
As I mentioned recently, I think bias tape is wonderful stuff. It’s a terrific help if you can learn to make it yourself. Yes, it’s a bit time consuming, but the possibilities are pretty endless for prints and patterns, it’s less expensive, and best of all as far as I’m concerned, you can make tape to match your fabric!
If you’re not really familiar with bias tape, it’s basically a long strip of fabric that’s been cut on the bias of fabric. Because it’s cut on the bias, it stretches, which makes it really easy to sew around curves and such. The strips of fabric are folded so that you can sew them to enclose seams neatly.
So here’s one method. Nothing novel, but I thought it might be handy.
ETA: We also have a tutorial for the continuous loop method, which is what we use. It’s nifty and fast.
- a piece of fabric to use for your bias tape
- a Clover Bias Tape Maker. These come in various sizes, I find 1/2″ useful.
Step 1: Cut yourself a rectangle of fabric. How much tape will you get out of it, you ask? First, figure out how many square inches your rectangle is by multiplying the length by the width. Now divide that number by the width of the strips you’ll be cutting. That will give you a rough approximation (I say rough approximation, because you’ll probably discard the corners of your fabric).
Step 2: Now you need to find the bias. To do this, simply fold the fabric so that the edges meet to form a triangle. Mark the fold (I did this by pressing it, so the pressed line is the bias grain).
Step 3: Mark off strips along the bias by measuring equal distances from the line you marked. Your strips should be twice the width of your completed bias tape. So if you’re making 1/2″ tape, your strips should be 1″ wide. (I know, mine are a bit sloppy, but silk charmeuse is slippery. It’s easier on cotton or the like). As you get to the corners, your strips will become very short. It’s probably best to just discard the corners rather than worry about sewing all those tiny strips together.
Step 4: Now cut out your strips. You’ll notice that the strips are stretchy if you give them a tug.
Step 5: Trim the ends of the strips so they’re flat.
Step 6: Place two strips at 90 degree angles with the right sides together, lining up the edges. Sew diagonally across, as in the photo. Continue sewing all the little strips in this way to form one long strip. Make sure they each are sewn the same way, so that all your seams go in the same direction in the end.
Step 7: Trim the pointy little seam allowances on each seam.
Step 8: Press the seams open.
Step 9: Now to use the fun doohickey! Feed your strip evenly through the bias tape maker. There is a little metal bar you can gently pull on to help guide the tape. As it comes out the other end folded, press it down as you go.
And you have bias tape! This is single-fold bias tape. If you want double-fold bias tape, you just have to fold it in half again and press.
And here’s what your seams will look like from the outside. Diagonal and pretty and neat!