How to make your own bias tapes?

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In my previous blog post, I have described what bias binding tapes there are and how to sew them onto the fabric edge. Usually, you buy them in stores. However, If you do not find a bias tape meeting your needs, you can make your own at home.

In this blog post, you will learn:

Tools you need to make bias tapes

To create bias binding tapes from almost any fabric, you need the following:

  • Bias tape maker
  • Fabric for the bias tape
  • Long ruler
  • Quilting ruler (optional)
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Textile marker
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

How to choose and prepare fabric for bias tapes?

Pick the fabric you’d like to use for the bias tape. The best ones for this purpose are light to medium weight. Using heavy or thick fabrics would give a result that is too bulky (do not use velvet, velour, corduroy, fleece, duchess satin, denim, etc.). Make sure you have enough fabric, as cutting a fabric on a bias is really fabric consuming.

Pretreat the fabric in the way you are about to treat the final garment or product (wash, dry and iron as outlined in the care instructions for this kind of fabric). You certainly do not envisage the fabric to shrink after it is already sewn to a garment!

How to a make bias tape step by step?

1. Pick a bias tape maker

On the bias tape makers I have , and are amongst the most popular, there is a number on their back. It is the width of the bias tape (in millimetres) when it comes out from the bias tape maker. The final width of the bias tape (when sewn on a garment) is its half.

Set of bias tape makers.
Set of different bias tape makers.

In the image below, you can see all four bias tape makers and bias cut fabric stripes as they go into and out of the bias tape makers.

Bias binding tapes of different widths.
Bias binding tapes of different widths.

If you have a different bias tape maker, measure the opening where the fabric comes out and write down the result. Calculate the stripe width you need to cut according to the following formula (see the images and formulas below).

fabric width = 2 ⨯ opening size – 2 mm

Measuring the opening of a bias binding tape maker.

fabric width = 2 ⨯ opening size – 1/16”

Measuring the opening of a bias binding tape maker.

I recommend testing a short stripe (about 25 cm – 10 inch) with the bias tape maker. You might adjust the width on the input a little bit. Especially really thin (less than 1 cm – 3/8 inch when folded in half) are tricky to work with.

2. Decide the length of the bias tape you will need

Measure the length of the edge where you want to apply the bias tape and add a few cm (inch) to have some extra tape at hand. If you plan to make a long bias tape, consider whether you need it from one piece of fabric. You may want to sew several fabric stripes together in order to make one long bias tape and use the fabric efficiently. In this case do not forget you will need to add seam allowances to each stripe.

Do not forget to add seam allowances when making one bias tape from multiple stripes of fabric.

3. Cut fabric stripes on the bias for the bias tape maker

Find the lengthwise and crosswise grains and mark the bias (at 45 degree angle). A quilting ruler is an ideal tool to do so (see the images below).

Drawing markings on the fabric bias.
Drawn markings on fabric bias.

If you do not have a quilting ruler, mark the same distance from the corner on the lengthwise and crosswise grains (see the images below). If you mark 25 cm (10 inch) from the corner, you will get a bias tape that is about 35 cm (13 1/2 inch) long.

Measuring distance on the crosswise grain.
Measuring distance on the lengthwise grain.

The markings will be on the bias (see the image below).

Pair of markings on fabric bias.

If you know the length of the stripe you would like to cut, you can calculate the distance from the corner using the following formula.

Formula how to calculate fabric length on the bias.

Using a ruler, draw a long line along your markings you have drawn on the fabric (see the image below).

Line marked along fabric bias.

Draw as many parallel lines as you need. The distance between them is the feeding side width (wider opening) of the bias tape maker you are working with.

Lines to cut fabric on the bias in order to make bias binding tapes.

Cut the stripes along the markings. I prefer using a rotary cutter. Nonetheless, scissors will do the job too (see the image below).

Cutting the fabric on the bias along pre-drawn lines.
Cutting the fabric on the bias along pre-dawn lines with a rotary cutter.

3. Sew the fabric stripes together

If you do not need to sew multiple fabric stripes together, skip this section and go right to the next step.

Sewing two stripes together is a little tricky, still possible. In the image below, there is an example how NOT TO sew two stripes together. The result would be too bulky when applied to the fabric edge. Too many layers of fabric would be stacked on each other.

Example of an incorrect way of attaching two bias tapes together.

Read the following text to learn how to correctly sew multiple stripes of fabric together to make one bias tape.

1. Take two stripes that need to be sewn together. Place the two ends that need to be connected opposite each other exactly as in the image below. Also make sure that one of the stripes is turned right side up and the other one the wrong side up (see the image below).

2. Mark 1 cm (3/8 inch) from each stripe end (see the image below).

Stripes of bias cut fabric that are going to be sewn together.

3. Place the two stripes on top of each other aligning the two markings as exactly as possible and pin them together (see the image below).

Bias cut stripes of fabric aligned and pinned together.

4. Sew the two stripes together (see the image below). Use a thread that matches the colour of the fabric stripes.

Sewing bias cut fabric stripes together on a sewing machine.

5. Trim away half (about 0,5 cm – 3/16 inch) of the seam allowance (see the images below).

Trimming away extra seam allowance.

6. Press the seam open (see the image below).

Pressing a bias binding tape.

7. Cut away the pointy parts of the seam allowance aligning it with the edge of the fabric stripe (see the image below).

Cutting away pointy edges of seam allowances on a bias binding tape.

Now, your long stripe of bias cut fabric is ready to be turned into a bias binding tape (see the images below). If you pressed the seam allowance properly, there should be no problem while sliding it through the bias tape maker.

Bias binding tape with connecting seam.

4. Make bias tapes with the bias tape maker and iron

Insert one end into the wider opening of the bias tape maker (see the image below). Make sure you are looking at the WRONG side of the fabric stripe.

Inserting a bias cut stripe of fabric into a bias tape maker.

To move the fabric inside the bias tape maker you may need an awl, a needle, thin scissors or a pin. Insert it into the upper side of the bias tape maker and push the fabric towards its narrower end.

Inserting a stripe of fabric into a bias tape maker using a pin.

Slightly pull out the end through the narrower opening of the bias tape maker (see the image below).

Moving a stripe of fabric through a bias tape maker creating a bias tape.

Put the tape maker with the fabric stripe inside on an ironing board. Place the hot iron on the protruding end of the bias tape. Slowly pull the bias tape maker and move the iron towards the tape maker at the same time (see the image below).

When you finish, the bias tape is ready to be sewn (see the image below). To learn more about sewing bias binding tapes, read my previous blog post.

If you have sewn multiple bias-cut stripes together, the connection will look like this (see the image below):

Can I make a bias tape on the lengthwise or crosswise grain?

In theory, you can make one and apply it to fabric edges that are completely straight. Like a hem of a gathered skirt, sleeve edges, or the edge of a table cloth.

In these and other similar cases, you can use some long scraps of fabric. I usually have some narrow and long pieces of fabric on the lengthwise grain.

Moreover, cutting a fabric on the bias is really fabric consuming. That’s why I find it ok for home use. However, If you want your products to look pro, definitely use a bias tape cut on the bias.

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