Welcome to part 4 of our series on bias binding tape. This part focuses on making your own tape at home, with a full bias binding tape tutorial – for both strip cut and continuous bias binding tape methods. If you have missed any earlier parts you can click on links at the bottom of this page :-).
Bias tape is made out of strips of fabric cut at 45 degrees (on the bias) and sewn together, then folded to hide all the raw edges. We recommend using a bias tape maker to fold the tape, and make reference to it below, but if you don’t have one don’t despair, we cover other methods for folding your tape, and the cutting and joining instructions are the same for all methods.
To work out your fabric requirements you need to know:
1) The length of tape needed for your project – measure around the edge of your project and add a little extra (8-10cm/3-4″).
2) The width of your fabric strips – If you are using a bias tape maker, your strips need to be twice as wide as your bias tape maker e.g for a 25mm/1″ bias tape maker, you need 50mm/2″ wide strips. If you are not using a tape maker, and are making single fold tape, then double the finished width of your tape, if you are making double fold tape, multiply your finished width by 4.
When completing the tables below, bear in mind that the answers are approximate, they assume you will use the whole piece of fabric, when in practice you will probably not use the shortest strips. Running out of tape is never fun, we recommend making 10-20cm/4-8 inches more than you think you need !
If you use a rectangle of fabric
The length of bias tape required multiplied by the width of your fabric strips. ………. (answer A)
Answer A divided by the width of your chosen fabric. ……… (answer B)
2x the width of your fabric strips, plus answer B. ………. (answer C)
Answer C is the length of fabric needed.
If you are using a square of fabric
Multiply the length of bias tape required by the width of your fabric strips. ……… (answer A)
Find the square root of answer A, round it up to the nearest whole number. ………. (answer B)
2x the width of your fabric strips, plus answer B. ……… (answer C)
Answer C is the length and width of fabric needed.
Working out how much tape you will get from your fabric
If you want to know how much tape you can make out of a piece of fabric in your stash, complete the following table:
The width of your fabric. ……… (answer A)
Length of your fabric minus 2x the width of your fabric strips. ……… (answer B)
Answer A multiplied by answer B. ……… (answer C)
Answer C divided by the width of your fabric strips. ……… (answer D)
Answer D is the length of bias tape you can make.
If you have worked in cms, and want to know how many mtrs you need, divide your answer by 100. If you worked in inches and want the answer in yards, divide by 36.
Cutting Your Fabric
We cover three methods for cutting bias tape in this guide. Method A is the simplest, and if you are new to making bias tape we recommend starting with this one. Method B reduces the amount of cutting you need to do, and method C reduces the amount of sewing required.
Do I Really Need to Cut on the Bias?
If you are going to use your tape around any curves you need the stretch that cutting on the bias gives you to get the tape to lay flat. If you are going to use your tape in straight lines (with or without right angled corners), you don’t need the stretch so can use binding tape (like bias tape but not cut on the bias!). To make binding tape you cut your strips straight across your fabric (from selvage to selvage) rather than on the bias. Instructions for sewing your strips together are included in the next section.
Method A – Flat Strip
Place your fabric in front of you, wrong side facing you. Make a triangle on the left side, by folding the bottom left corner up to the top of the fabric (the left edge will line up with the top edge).
Cut along the diagonal fold (you have just cut along the bias!).
Move your ruler in by the same amount and draw another line, continue measuring and drawing lines across the rest of the fabric.
Cut your strips.
Method B – Folded Strip
This method reduces the amount of cutting involved in making your strips. It only works with squares of fabric.
Lay your fabric down, right side facing you. Make a triangle by folding the bottom left corner of your fabric up to the top right corner (the left edge will line with the top edge). Fold the bottom corner of the triangle up to the top left corner.
Measure in from the left edge of your triangle, HALF the width of one of your fabric strips, draw a line, parallel to the left edge.
Measure in from the line you have just drawn, the FULL width of one of your fabric strips, and draw another line, continue moving across your fabric, drawing lines the FULL width of your fabric strips apart. Cut along the lines (through all the layers of fabric at once).
Method C – Continuous Bias Tape
This method eliminates the need to sew your strips together. It can seem confusing, but follow it one step at a time and it will work!
You will need a square of fabric to start, place it in front of you, right side up. Fold the bottom left corner up to the top right corner. Cut along the fold.
You now have 2 triangles, place them on top of each other, right sides facing each other, so that the diagonal sides are crossing in the middle, and the bottom edges are lined up.
Lay your fabric in front of you, wrong side facing, with the seam line running from the top to the bottom of the fabric.
Place the fabric back in front of you, right side facing, so that the long edges are at the top and bottom and the seam is running across diagonally. Fold the short edges into the middle, matching the right top corner up with the top left corner, and the bottom left corner up with the bottom right corner, making a square. The folded over short edges will butt up against each other and the drawn on lines should line up.
Move the piece of fabric on the right side up (top layer of fabric only), so that 1st drawn on line on the right side is in line with the top of the left piece of fabric.
Pin the top layers together along the diagonal fold, making sure that the drawn on lines, each side of the fold, line up.
Sew along the fold line (making a tube of fabric). Check that the drawn on lines still line up and then iron the seam flat. Start cutting your tape along the first drawn on line (you should only be cutting through one layer of fabric), continue cutting, round and round the fabric tube, until you reach the bottom. You will have one continuous piece of tape.
Joining Your Strips
We recommend sewing your strips together on the bias, as this spreads the seams out on your finished project, avoiding unsightly bumps.
If You Have Cut Your Strips on the Bias
If you have used cutting method A or B, the ends of each strip of fabric will be sloping (at 45 degrees). Place two pieces of tape on top of each other, right sides facing, so that the sloping edges form one long diagonal line (see images). Pin the strips together. Turn the strips round so that the sloping sides run vertically down the right side (see images ).
Sew together at the point where the two pieces completely cover each other (the sew line will be parallel with the outside edge).
Open your tape up, check the top and bottom edges are lined up. If you are happy with the results, trim the seam allowance back (the smaller the allowance left behind the better, as it makes folding your tape easier).
Keep adding more strips to your chain until you have your desired length of tape.
If You Have Cut Your Fabric Straight Across
If you have cut your fabric strips straight across your fabric for binding tape (from selvage to selvage), then the corners of each strip will be square.
To sew them together place two pieces on top of each other, right sides facing, so that approx 6mm/1/4″ sticks out on each of the short sides. Pin together.
Sew across the corner, imagine you are cutting off the outside corner with your seam line (see image). Open out your tape to check that the top and bottom edges run smoothly across the join, and when you are happy with the finish, trim the excess fabric back, close to the join line (the closer the cut to the seam the easier you will find folding the tape).
Folding Your Tape
Using A Bias Tape Maker – Step 1
Cut the start of your tape into a point. Feed it into the back of the bias tape maker and pull it out of the, narrower, front, if you are struggling to get the fabric out of the front of the tape maker, insert an awl, small knitting needle or similar, into the space on top of the bias tape maker (in the coloured plastic section) and guide the fabric through.
As the tape comes out of the tape maker it will be folded into bias tape, iron the creases in as you continue to pull the fabric through. You have made single fold bias tape! If want to turn this into double fold tape go to Step 2.
Folding Tape Without a Tape Maker – Step 1
There are a number of different methods for folding your tape. If you Google ‘printable bias tape maker’ you will find lots of free downloadable templates that you can feed your fabric through to create perfectly folded tape. But for the ultimate in simplicity try the following method.
Step 1 – Fold your tape in half, horizontally (top to bottom), and iron the crease in.
Step 2 – Open the tape up and fold the top and bottom raw edges into the middle, just short of the crease line (by a few millimetres/1/8th inch on each side), iron the new creases into place.
You now have single fold bias tape. If you want to turn it into double fold tape follow step 2 below.
All methods – Step 2
If you want to make double fold tape you will need to follow this final step,
Place your tape in front of you, right side down, so that you are looking at the back of the tape. Fold in half (top to bottom), hiding all the raw edges inside the fold. Now move the crease line back to expose approx. 3mm/1/8th” of the bottom layer. Iron the crease into place.
Sewing With Bias Tape
Did You Know?
- Bias tape makers, from 6mm (1/4″) wide to 25mm (1″) wide.
- Ready made bias tape, in a wide range of colours.
- Piping cord in a wide range of widths.
- You can buy almost all our fabrics pre-cut into strips for making binding tape, find the fabric you want to use and select the strip width you need from the options on the right.