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By Betsy Greer on December 5, 2023
Tired of buying the same old solid-colored bias tape from the craft store? What if you could save money, find something to do with your fabric scraps AND produce custom bias tape without leaving home? Follow along as I teach you how to sew together some basic bias tape with Spoonflower’s Petal Signature Cotton® using two simple methods — trust me, you’ll never be able to go back to store-bought again!
Bias tape, also called bias binding, is a long and narrow strip of fabric specifically cut from the bias, and is used on edges and hems in a variety of sewing projects.
Let’s talk about fabric anatomy! Every fabric has two ways its fibers travel: crosswise (left to right) and lengthwise (top to bottom). The bias line (diagonally at a 45-degree angle) shares a little bit of both the crosswise and lengthwise fiber space. Pieces of non-stretch woven fabric like Petal Signature Cotton or Cotton Poplin can include the slightest bit of stretch and ease when cut along this line. This is perfect for creating fabric tape to finish any edge, whether straight or curved, of a sewing project.
If you’re looking for bias tape at your local craft store, you’ll probably find either single fold or double fold styles.
Single fold is sewn along one of the edges of a garment or other sewing project, then folded under and stitched in place again to finish a raw edge. This way it’s only visible from the underside. You might find single fold tape on necklines, sleeve hems and anywhere that needs a lightweight, hidden finish.
Double fold is sturdier and used to bind raw edges. It folds up and over an edge so the tape can be seen from both sides. Quilters should be very familiar with this type!
You can cut strips of scrap fabric to form your bias tape instead of cutting from something new. Just make sure you’re still cutting on the bias line to ensure there’s enough stretch.
Lay your fabric flat, grab one corner and fold diagonally at a 45-degree angle to find the bias of your fabric. Take your scissors and cut through the fold until you have two pieces sitting on top of each other.
Decide how wide you want your bias tape to be — I’m making 1/2″ (1.3 cm), double folded bias tape for this tutorial, so each of my strips will be 2″ (5 cm) wide.
Measure 2″ (5 cm), or however wide you’ve chosen, out from the cut you just made and mark with tailor’s chalk. Then use scissors or a rotary cutter to produce strips of bias fabric. Repeat this step until you’ve cut as many strips as you need or until you run out of fabric. Your strips should have a pointy, 45-degree edge on either end. Cut these off until you have straight edges.
Place one strip on top of another, right sides together and perpendicular to each other. Pin these pieces in place forming a diagonal line to reference when sewing, then repeat with all the strips until you have one long, continuous piece of fabric. Take this to the sewing machine and sew all the seams together.
After sewing, trim the triangular edges leaving 1/4″ (.6 cm) and press the seams open with an iron for a cleaner finish later on. This is also a good opportunity to double check that your strip is as straight as it can be before we fold everything together.
Take your strip and fold one side longways (wrong sides together) until it meets the middle, and press in place. Continue down the entirety of the strip, folding and pressing, then repeat on the other side until you have two folded sides that meet. If you need single fold bias tape — congrats, you’re done! If you want double fold there’s just one more step.
The other method to fold your single fold tape, but at lightning speed, requires a bias tape maker. I’m using a plastic one from my local craft store but I highly recommend checking out Clover’s metal bias tape makers if you plan to incorporate DIY bias tape into your everyday sewing life. Start by pressing the strip as if you were manually folding it, but only towards the very top about 2-3″ (5-7.5 cm) down. Stick the pressed end into the opening of the bias tape maker (making sure the width of your bias tape matches the maker width). Pull it through and iron in place as you go… it’s quite magical!
Fold your bias tape in half with the raw edges on the inside and press in place. When folding, make sure to leave one side just a little bit wider than the other, around 1/16” (.15 cm). This allows some extra room when you’re sandwiching around your fabric so that both edges wrap evenly. Plus, you’re supposed to place the wider edge along the back side of the fabric, so while you’re sewing on the front side you’ll be sure to catch everything with your needle.
And you’re done! Now you can create custom bias tape of any size, with any design, for any project. Use a piece of cardboard or cardstock to wrap your finished tape around so it stays safe. I’m using the cardboard wrap that came with my Spoonflower fabric order!