Saturday, February 9, 2013

How to Make Bias Tape

Bias tape is a great way to finish the edges of so many projects. I love using bias tape on the edges of aprons, to finish off the armholes of summer dresses and as a fabric ribbon embellishment. You can add a unique touch to your projects by adding bias tape in a contrasting colour or fabric pattern. You can purchase ready-made bias tape or make it yourself. Bias tape is also used to make piping for home decor projects, but also has other applications.

What is bias tape?

Bias tape or bias binding is a strip of fabric that has been cut along the bias or cross grain of your fabric. It is at a 45 degree angle to the grain, which makes it stretchy and easier to use around a curve such as an armhole or neckline. Many strips can be sewn together to make a long "tape." You can vary the width of the bias tape depending on how you will like to use the bias tape. Generally bias tape is available in 1/2 inch or 1 inch width and is a simple bias (unfolded), single-fold bias tape, or a double-fold bias tape.

Making your bias tape

Start by pre-washing or pre-shrinking your fabric. Always make your finished bias tape a bit longer than is needed. Measure the circumference of your project and add several inches to be on the safe side. Next, you will have to decide how wide you want your strip to be. For example, if you will like your finished bias tape to be 1/2 inch and you are making a double-fold bias, then you need a strip that is initially 2 inches wide. To finish your bias tape, you can manually fold and press or you can use several helpful tools that are available to help you with the final phase. I purchased the "Simplicity Bias Tape Maker," which has been really helpful. However, for this tutorial I wanted to demonstrate using the manual method.

Step 1: Find the bias of your fabric and using a ruler and fabric chalk or other marking tool, measure equal distances and mark off the size of the strips you will like to cut.

Step 2: Cut your bias strips using a scissors or rotary cutter. You will notice that your strips are stretchy if you give them a slight tug.

Step 3: Place two strips together so that they form a 90 degree angle with the right sides facing each other. Sew across as shown in photo. Continue to do this with all of you strips to make a continuous strip.

Step 4: Press the seams open and trim the ends off of the seam allowance.

Step 5: Fold your bias in half down the middle and press along the strip. Then fold the outer edges towards the centre of your strip. Another slightly less time consuming method is to feed your bias through a bias tape maker and gently pull and press as you make your way along the bias strip. With the "Simplicity Bias Tape Maker," you simply have to feed the end of your bias strip into the tip, select your fabric setting and press run, and it does the rest for you.

Now you can enjoy your new bias tape.

Types of bias tape

Simple Bias: This is essentially unfolded bias strips, which you can use as ribbon embellishments on packaging, millinery, ribbon work, floral projects or to create piping.

Single Fold: This is when the bias tape is folded on the outer edges and is flat. Single-fold bias tape is great for use on hemlines.

Double Fold: This is the most common type of bias tape used. It is a single-folded tape that has been folded again down the middle of the bias strip. This type of bias is slightly wider on one sided, so if you follow the edge of the short side with your sewing machine, there will be more than enough space for the stiches on the underside not to go over the edge.

Here are examples of how double-fold bias tape can be used.

Bias tape was used on the top edge of the bag.

Bias tape used on armhole and tie strap for a kid's top.

If you will like to make piping with your bias tape, visit "The Seasoned Homemaker" for a wonderful little tutorial on how to "Add Piping to a Pillow."

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