How to Make Bias Tape
Y'all know how much I love bias tape. I've been showing you projects with pre-made bias tape, but we all know it's so much cuter when you make your own. It seems a little complicated, but do it once and you'll be hooked. Bias tape is great for two things: stabilizing curves and finishing edges. There are two major steps to making bias tape: Cutting Bias Strips and Ironing it into Bias Tape.
I'll give instructions on How to Make Single Fold Bias Tape and Double Fold Bias Tape (and the secrets for doing each step faster than you thought possible) after the jump...
How to Make Bias Tape
First we will cut, then we will iron. For this bias tape I used 1/2 yard of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane Wash Day Ticking in Dandelion. So I made about 11 yards of 1/2" double fold bias tape for $4.25. Total deal.
Step 1: Cutting Your Bias Strips
Bias tape is cut "on the bias" meaning diagonal to the selvedges of the fabric. You have to do it this way for it to work. The fabric stretches differently when you pull it against the grain. Test it out by pulling your fabric at the selvedges and then on the diagonal (from opposite corners) so you see what I mean.
First let's figure out how wide our strips should be. If you are making single fold bias tape, you want your strips to be twice the width of your final tape minus 1/8" (so for 1/2" single fold bias tape, you need 7/8" wide strips). For double fold bias tape you want your strips four times the width of your final tape minus 1/8". So for the 1/2" double fold bias tape I'm making here, you need strips 1 and 7/8" wide.
Start with 1/2 yard of fabric. Fold one short edge of your fabric into a right triangle, then cut that triangle off:
Lay it right sides facing straight edges aligned on the other side of the fabric:
Sew it in place, so now you have a parallelogram:
We need to draw diagonal lines across it parallel to the cut edges. The lines need to be evenly spaced at the width we want our strips to be. So for my 1/2" double fold bias tape, I need to draw lines on the bias 1 and 7/8" apart across the whole 1/2 yard. I picked up a handy bias tape ruler that makes this part a breeze:
Now the usual next step is to cut all of these pieces and sew them together at right angles one at a time, which takes forever. We are going to do it backwards and save ourselves some time. So, take your fabric and twist it, bringing the right sides of the long edges together. Line up the end of strip One with the start of strip Two, so they are off set, like this:
It is going to feel like you are doing something wrong - that it is just not possible for this all to line up - but you are doing it right. The fabric is going to spiral as you line it up. Now sew the right sides together with 1/4" seam allowance. It will look all funky and twisted like this:
Flatten it out at one side, so it looks like this:
Now cut along your drawn line, it will be in a spiral:
Keep cutting until it's all cut into one long strip:
Wasn't that a million times quicker then sewing a bunch of strips together? Now go ahead and iron all the seams open:
All righty, we have created our bias strips. Halfway there!
Step 2: Ironing your Bias Tape.
So you need to iron each side into the center. Go ahead and try doing that by hand. No, I'm kidding, don't. Just trust me it's a pain.
You can get a simple Bias Tape Maker doo dad to feed your fabric through. You gently push one end of the strip through it, and iron as it comes out the other end. This works decently but requires a steady hand. This is how I used to do it:
But then a magical new product was invented, and I got one. It's the Simplicity Bias Tape Maker and it does the work for you (it's only $68 on amazon right now - pays for itself after just a few projects/quilts). You can get a bunch of different tips for it to make any size bias tape you want. So I feed my strip through here, and it does the nice even ironing for me:
For a video of the machine in action visit this post: Bias Tape Maker Video What What!
Now you have created single fold bias tape!
If you want double fold bias tape, simply fold it in half with the raw edges to the center and iron it again. I ran it through my Bias Tape Maker one more time:
Now wrap it around a piece of cardboard until you need to use it! Hold it in your hand and feel its homemade goodness. Sigh with satisfaction.
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