Bias tape is a wonderful way to finish an edge, particularly weirdly shaped edges that you can’t or don’t want to line. It gives a nice clean finish even along curves that are otherwise difficult to deal with. You can make bias tape from the fabric you’re using for something subtle or use a contrasting fabric to add a bit of interest. You can buy bias tape in solid colored cotton, but it’s easy to make yourself and if you do you can have so many lovely colors, patterns, and materials.
Bias tape is a strip of fabric cut on the diagonal (or bias) and folded along the edges. It comes in two forms: single fold (which actually has two folds) where the sides are just folded in, and double fold (which has three folds) which is single fold folded in half again. All of the pictures in this post show double fold tape made from 1″ strips. Single fold can also be useful for finishing necklines and other difficult edges: use it like facing for a clean simple edge. Larger double fold made from 2″ or even 4″ strips makes nice quilt and blanket binding.
To make your own, start with a yard of fabric (you can actually use any length of fabric: the smaller it is the more seams you’ll need).
- Fold the bottom up to the side to form a triangle. Measure half an inch in from this fold and cut.
- Moving over from this first cut, cut 1″ strips at the same angle.
- Line up the short edges so the strips run off in opposite directions (they should both face down, but at different angles) and sew the strips together to form a long tape. Iron these seams flat and clip the corners where they overhang the edge.
- Fold the tape in half and iron down.
- Open up, and fold one side into the fold line. Iron flat.
- Fold the other side almost to the fold line and iron flat. When you bind an edge with your new tape, let the slightly shorter side face out and sew so that you can see the right side while you go. The asymmetry means you don’t have to worry whether you catch the tape on the back – it’s longer on that side so you always will.
You can simplify steps 4-6 by using a bias tape maker. Feed your tape into the large side of the bias tape maker and pull through several inches. Carefully place the iron over this tail, making sure the folds run under the iron. Pull the tape through the tape maker and under the iron. This makes single fold tape. To turn it into double fold, fold it in half favoring one side slightly and iron it down.