Monthly Archives: April 2015

Everything you Need to Know About Bias Tape – Part 3

everything you need to know about bias tape part 3b
We are going to cover sewing with double fold bias tape in this part of our guide.  Double fold tape is used where you want the binding to been seen on the front and back of the project. 

If you want the binding to be hidden on the back of your project, you need to follow the single fold instructions in part 2 of this series, if you are not sure which tape you need, take a look at part 1, if you want to learn to make your own tape, view part 4.

Measuring your Bias Tape

Measure the space you are going to cover, and…

If the short ends of the tape will be seen in the finished project add 5cm/2 inches

If you are sewing over the short ends later add 2.5cm/1 inch

If the two ends of the tape will be joined together add 10cm/4 inches

Choosing Your Method

We recommend 3 methods for sewing double fold bias tape:

Machine Sewing – sew lines are visible on both sides.

Mixed Sewing – machine sew the first seam and hand sew the second for an almost invisible finish.

The Eazy Peazy Binding Method – this method uses strips of fabric ironed in half, rather than bias tape – guide coming soon!

Getting Started…

NOTE: If you need to go around corners with your tape, you will also need to read the instructions on the back of this leaflet.

Take your bias tape, looking at the back, unfold the tape once, and then open the shorter of the two visible folds (if you tape’s sides are the same size you can open either of the them).

If the short ends of the tape will be seen in the finished project

Fold the left edge of the tape over by 12mm/1/2″ and iron the crease into place, then unfold.

Looking at the back of your project position the tape so that the fold on the left edge is in line with the left edge of your fabric and the top (unfolded edge) of the tape is in line with the top of your fabric, wrap the folded section on the left over to the front of your fabric and pin into place.

double fold guide image-fold-seen

Pin the rest of the tape along the back of your project, gently pulling on the tape to ease it around any curves. When you reach the right edge, cut the excess tape back to 6mm/1/2″ past the edge of the fabric, fold it round to the front of the project as before, and pin into place.

Sew all the way along the top fold line of the bias tape.

double-fold-bias-tape-pinned-sewn-seen

If you are sewing over the short ends later

Looking at the back of your project and the tape, overlap the left edge of your fabric with the short edge of the tape (just a few mm/1/4”). Line the top unfolded edge of the bias tape up with the top of your fabric, start pinning into place, gently pulling on the tape to ease it around any curves. Sew along the top fold line. Trim the tape on the right edge, back to 6mm/1/4″ past the fabric’s edge.

double-fold-bias-tape-short ends later

If the two ends of the tape will be joined together

Pin your tape into place on the back of your project (starting approx 1/3 of the way down one side), with the unfolded edge of the bias tape lined up with the edge of your fabric. Finish pinning when you get approx 7.5cm/3″ from the start of the tape.

Starting 7.5cm/3″ along from the first pin, sew in the crease line, round to the final pin.

double-fold-tape-bias-joining-first sew

Fully unfold both ends of the bias tape, measure the width of one end and note down the size. Place the start of your tape back down on top of your fabric (still unfolded) and put the end of the tape on top of that. Measure along, from the point where the tapes start to overlap, by the same distance as the width of the unfolded tape, cut the top piece of tape at this point, straight down.

double-fold-bias-tape-measuring-join-overlapping

Fold the bottom corner at the end of the bias tape up to form a triangle, then fold the top corner at the start of the tape down to form another triangle. The crease lines on each side should meet in the middle (see image below).

Unfold the corners and pin the pieces together, right sides facing, pulled away from the main fabric, with the two creases lined up (the tapes will form a right angle – see image below).
Sew a diagonal line from the top left corner of the top tape, following the crease line.

double-fold-bias-tape-folded-triangle-corners

Check that the tape sits flat on your project, and when you are happy with the result, trim the excess fabric away (back to a 6mm/1/4″ seam allowance). Pin the now continuous tape back on to your project and sew along the top fold line as before.

Next steps… (all methods)

Fold the bias tape over the top of your raw edges, making mitres on any corners (folding the fabric in diagonally). Ensure that the tape is covering the sew line from the other side (this is where having one side of the tape longer than the other comes in handy!). Pin the tape into place.

double-fold-bias-tape-pulling-tape-over

Machine Sewing Method

Top stitch 3mm/1/8th” in from the unsewn edge of the bias tape, using a stitch of your choice. Stop every so often to check the sew line on the back is on top of the binding and hasn’t slipped onto the main fabric.

double-fold-bias-tape-top-stitches

Mixed Sewing Method

Many people are put off hand sewing the final seam, but I can tell you from experience that a) its quicker than you think. b) You can end up spending much longer unpicking wonky stitching from machine sewing! c) You will get an almost invisible finish.

You will need a hand sewing needle threaded with a cotton matching your bias tape. Put a knot in your cotton and pass it through from the back of the bias tape to the front, at the crease/fold line (hiding the knot).

Push the needle back down into the main fabric, as close to the point where you just came through as possible (making an almost invisible stitch) come back up in to the bias tape, stopping inside the crease. Push the needle along the INSIDE of the crease, before coming back up, out of the top of the binding (see image below), go back to the start of this paragraph and continue round repeating these steps.

double-fold-tape-hand-sewing-seam-bias

Dealing with Corners

If you have corners to navigate we recommend sewing and pinning your tape one side at a time.

Measure the size of the bias tape from the unfolded top edge to the first fold and note this measurement down. Pin your tape along one side. Sew in the crease line, stopping when you are as far away from the corner as the measurement you noted down.

double-fold-tape-instructions-measuring-fold

Take your project back to the table and fold the corner of the bias tape over into a triangle, so that the tape is running away from your project, and is in line with the top of the next side (see images below). Now fold the tape back over the triangle, so that it is running along the next side to be sewn, and pin into place.

double-fod-making-corner-3

Start sewing again from the left edge, until you reach the next corner and repeat the process.

Other parts in this series…

1. Introduction to Bias Tape

2. Sewing with Single Fold Bias Tape

4. Making your own Bias Tape

Download a copy of this guide here.

Everything You Need to Know About Bias Tape – Part 2

everything you need to know about bias tape part 2
We are going to cover sewing with single fold bias tape in this part of our guide.  Using bias tape to hide raw edges on the back of projects as well as using the tape as a ribbon trim, and turning single tape into double tape.

If your bias tape is going to be visible on the front and back of your project, you need to follow the double fold instructions in part 3 of this series, if you are not sure which tape you need, take a look at part 1 and if you want to learn how to make your own tape, view part 4.

Measuring your Bias Tape

If the short ends of the tape will be seen in the finished project

Measure the space you are going to cover, and add at least 5cm/2″, for wiggle room and to neaten the ends.

If you are sewing over the short ends later

Measure the space you are going to cover, and add at least 2.5cm/1″ inch for overlapping the ends of the tape with the edges of your project, and for wiggle room.

If the two ends of the tape will be joined together

Measure the space you are going to cover and add a minimum of 8cm (3”).

Getting Started…

Turn the tape over, unfold the top edge of the tape and measure the width of the fabric you have just unfolded (from the top edge to the crease line). The crease will be your sewing line and so needs to be placed on your project where you pattern’s seam allowance dictates.

single fold guide images1c
On our tape the fold is 6mm/1/4” from the edge so if we lined up the tape with the edge of our fabric, the sew line would be at 6mm/1/4″. Our pattern calls for all seams to be at 12mm/1/2″ , so we just moved the tape down the fabric 6mm/1/4″, placing the crease line at 12mm/½”.
Place you project in front of you, right side of the fabric facing up and unfold the top edge of your bias tape then…

If the short ends of the tape will be seen in the finished project

Fold the left edge of the tape in 12mm/1/2″ and iron the crease in.

Position the tape so that the folded left edge is in line with the left edge of your fabric, and the top crease in the bias tape is lined up with the seam allowance in your pattern. Start pinning, gently pulling on the tape to ease it around any curves. When you reach the right side, fold the end of tape onto your project trim to give you a folded section measuring 6mm/1/2″ and pin into place.

Sew along the fold line, going over the folded ends.

single fold guide images2

If you are sewing over the short ends later

Overlap the left edge of your fabric with the short edge of your tape (just a few mm/1/4”), and line the top crease in the bias tape up with the seam allowance in your pattern. Start pinning your tape to your project, gently pulling on the tape to ease it around any curves. Sew along the crease line. Trim any excess tape on the right edge, back to 6mm/1/4″ past the fabric’s edge.

single fold guide images3

If the two ends of the tape will be joined together

Take your bias tape, and looking at the back, unfold the top edge.

Now decide where on your project you want to start the tape, there will a join at this point and although the tape will be hidden on the back of your project, as the fabric moves, you may sometimes catch glimpses of it, for example along a neckline or round an armhole. If there isn’t an obvious place to hide the join we recommend starting 1/3rd of the way down one side.

Start pinning your tape into place from the joining point, with the crease in the top fold of the tape running along your seam allowance/sew line. Finish pinning when you get approx 5cm/2″ from the start of the tape.

Starting 5cm/2″ along from the first pin, sew in the crease line round to the final pin.

joining bias tape ends - step 1

Fully unfold both ends of the bias tape, measure the width of one end and note down the size. Place the start of your tape back down on top of your fabric (still unfolded) and the end of the tape on top of that. Measure along, from the point where the tapes start to overlap, by the same distance as the width of the unfolded tape (measured in the last step) trim the top piece of tape at this point (straight down).

joining bias tape ends2
Fold the bottom corner of the end of the bias tape up to form a triangle, then fold the top corner of the start of the tape down to form another triangle. The crease lines on each side should meet in the middle (see image below).

Unfold the corners and pin the pieces together, right sides facing, pulled away from the main fabric, with the two creases lined up (the tapes will form a right angle – see image below).

Sew a diagonal line from the top left corner of the tape, along the crease line.

joining ends - single fold-making mitre

Check that the tape sits flat on your project and when you are happy with the result, trim the excess fabric away (back to a 6mm/1/4″ seam allowance). Pin the now continuous tape back on to your project and sew along the top fold line as before.

joining bias tape ends last part

Next steps… (all methods)

If you have fabric sticking out above the bias tape (as in our example) trim it away, so that the edge of the fabric is in line with the tape. Turn your project over and iron the seam flat – with the seam allowances folded onto the back of the bias tape (away from the fabric). Turn over and iron once more.

Now fold the tape over on to the back of the fabric, so that you can just see the start of the main fabric on the back (see below).

single fold guide images-iron-trim

Iron the seam flat. Pin the tape into place and top stitch 1/8″/3mm in from the unsewn edge of the bias tape (see the next set of images) ensuring you have the right colour thread on your bottom bobbin for the front fabric.

single fold guide images end

Its as simple as that!

Using Bias Tape as a Trim

Single fold tape can be used as a decorative trim, sew into place using a stitch of your choice. We like to use a small zigzag stitch, running the stitch along the edges of the tape, over-lapping stitches with the main fabric for a pretty and super secure finish.

bias single fold as a ribbon

Making Double Fold Tape out of Single Fold

You can turn single fold tape into double fold tape by folding the tape in half and ironing the resulting crease in. It’s a good idea to fold the crease just off centre, 3mm/1/8th inch, as having one side slightly longer than the other is a benefit when sewing (this is how ready made double sided bias tape appears).

Now open the tape backup and move the raw edges into to meet the new centre crease, iron the creases into place. Close up your tape and iron once more to set the creases.

single into double bias tape

 Other parts in this series…

1. Introduction to Bias Tape

3. Sewing with Double Fold Bias Tape

4. Making your own Bias Tape

Download a copy of this guide here.

Everything You Need to Know About Bias Tape – Part 1

everything need to know about bias tape - part 1

Welcome to our 4 part series on bias tape, covering everything you need to know to make best use of this sewing staple. Helping you produce high quality garments, bags and home decor projects with ease.

Part 1 – What is bias tape? Which type should you use in which situation. Homemade versus shop bought.
Part 2 – Sewing with single fold tape and how to turn single fold tape into double fold.
Part 3 – Sewing with double fold tape.
Part 4- Making your own bias tape – both strip and continuous methods.

What is Bias Tape?

Bias tape is used to cover raw edges in sewing (both visible edges and hidden ones) adding strength to curved shapes, such as those found on necklines and around armholes. It is also used as a ribbon style trim to decorate projects, to make straps on dresses and tops, and to cover piping cord.

Look around you and you will find bias tape everywhere!

examples of bias tape
It is made out of strips of fabric, cut on the bias to make them stretchy, this stretch helps you ease the tape smoothly around curves when sewing.

Once cut, the strips are sewn together (at 45 degree angles) and then the raw edges, on the long sides of the tape, are folded/ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric, giving you a neat finish.

The tape can be as wide or thin as you like, the thinner the tape the more fiddly it is to sew with, the wider the tape the more impact it will have on your finished project.

What is ‘the Bias’?

If you place a square of cotton fabric in front of you and try to stretch it, left to right/ top to bottom, it will move a little, but if you pull it diagonally it will stretch a lot!

That’s because you are pulling it on the bias. (at a 45 degree angle). When you cut fabric at 45 degrees you lock this stretchiness in.

bias path

Exception to the rule…

If you are sewing bias tape onto your project in straight lines, or just turning at 90 degree angles, such as in the case of quilts, or in the construction of ties and straps, you don’t need to cut the fabric for your tape on the bias, as you don’t need the stretch.

Types of Bias Tape and Their Uses

Single Fold (both open fold and closed fold)

Is designed to be used where you want to hide raw edges, and often, the tape itself, typically, but not always, inside a garment, where you want to sculpt or reinforce shapes e.g. around necklines and armholes. It is also used to decorate projects in the same way as ribbon, and you can make double fold tape out of single fold tape to (see part 2).

Looking at the back of the tape you will see that the raw edges have been folded in towards the centre, once on each side, either:

  • by a small amount, typically 6mm (1/4”), this is called open fold tape and has been folded in just enough to enable you to securely sew your tape to your project, with the minimum amount of bulk.
  • or almost, or right to the centre, this is called closed fold tape, this more generous fold gives you a little more wriggle room when sewing, but does add a little more bulk, and as it is made from a wider piece of fabric, it costs more.

The size on the packet refers to the width of the tape when measured across the front of the tape (not the unfolded tape).

single fold tape types2

Double Fold

Is used where the bias tape is going to be visible, covering raw edges for example around the sides of a quilt, along the tops of bags, trimming visible raw edges of clothes or in the construction of straps.

If you open up the first fold of the tape, and look at the back, you will see that the raw edges have been folded in, either just short of the centre line, or to the centre.

If you close the tape back up you will see that the folded edges of the tape are either aligned, or that one side is slightly longer than the other, this is not a mistake, it makes sewing the tape easier – we will get on to how in part 2.

The size on the packet refers the width of the tape when measured across the front of the folded tape (not the unfolded tape).

double bias tape
A Note About Bunting…

Bias tape is regularly used for bunting, but we don’t recommend it, the flex in the tape reduces its strength and once you hang the bunting you will notice that the tape will start twisting and warping. We recommend using our specialist bunting tape. It is strong, easy to sew with, the fold line is already set into it, and it won’t warp or discolour in the sun.

Is shop bought or homemade best?

Shop bought bias tape saves you time and comes in a wide range of widths, colours and patterns. Making your own bias tape can be rewarding, once you have got the hang of it! It’s a great way to use up scraps of fabric and, because you can use almost any fabric to make the tape, you can make it in the perfect colour or pattern for your project.

We sell ready made single fold tape at Prints to Polka Dots, (which you can easily turn into double tape, see part 2) as well as bias tape makers, if you would like to have a go at making your own bias tape read part 4 of our guide.

Other parts in this series…

2. Sewing with Single Fold Bias Tape

3. Sewing with Double Fold Bias Tape

4. Making your own Bias Tape 

Click here to download this guide!