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Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Make Bias Tape for Small Projects

A few days ago I was working on a project that called for 1/4" bias tape. I looked through my stash and had a lot of 1/2" bias tape but not any 1/4".  It's easy to find at the store but I wasn't in the mood to drag my kids out so I decided to make my own. And of course I tend to take pictures of each and every project I'm working on, so today I will show you how to make bias tape! It is much easier than you might think, even to make yards and yards of it, in any width you want.  But what you may not know is that bias tape is not just a strip of folded fabric.  It must be cut on the bias. 

So what is the bias? 

I'm glad you asked! The bias of the fabric is neither vertical or horizontal; it is the 45 degree line between the two. If you have a perfect square, it will be a diagonal line from one corner to the other. 

 The reason we need bias tape for some projects is that it gives the tape a little more "ease" than horizontal or vertical cuts of woven fabric.  Bias tape does not technically "stretch" because it is a woven fabric, but because it has the cut going across the grains, it eases around curves and makes an excellent binding for edges that are not straight. 

Today I will show you how to make several yards of bias tape using 1/2 yard of fabric. This will be more than enough for any small projects. (If you are making a larger project that requires a lot more length, you can click here for our video tutorial on how to make a long strip all at once.) But for this photo tutorial, we will work with 1/2 yard. 

First, fold the fabric in half width-wise so the selvages are stacked on top of each other on the left, the fold is on the right, and the cut edges are at the top and bottom. 

Next, fold the top left corner down at an angle so the two selvages are even with the bottom cut line. 

Use a rotary cutter or scissors to cut the excess fabric on the right. 

Next, use a straight edge and rotary cutter to cut off the bias folded side of the triangles, close to the fold. Be sure to keep the angle of the fold. If you do not have a rotary cutter, cut down the crease with fabric scissors. Then trim off the selvages at the bottom of the triangle. 

You should now have four triangles stacked on top of each other with neat raw edges and a perfect bias line. 

Now it's time to cut your fabric strips on the bias!  Decide what size you want to make and cut the width 4 times larger.  For example, I needed my tape to end up 1/4" wide so I cut the strips 1" wide.  If you want 1/2" bias tape, you would cut your strips 2" wide. And so on. 

Using your straight edge to measure over the amount you need, and cut along that line.  This is definitely easiest if you have a rotary cutter and a clear ruler as shown above.  

Your first strips will look like this. Notice they are diagonally cut on the ends. You want them to be that way so we can connect them in a bit! 

Continue cutting as many strips as you want/need. Keep in mind that there are four layers here, so this amount of fabric goes a long way. 

Now you will connect all of the strips together into one loooooong strip of bias tape.  If you only need small strips you can skip the next few steps. 

Take the ends of two different strips and line them up as shown above, with right sides together.  Note that the edges are not lined up exactly; there needs to be a small overhang on each side.  If you line them up exactly, they will not connect correctly in the next step! 

Sew across the top of the two strips using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Open up the strips, and this is what you should see on the back side!  The strips should lay in a straight line above and below the seam. If they are not straight, then you need to leave more overhang on the points in the previous step.  Press the seam open with your fingers. Then trim off the points that lay outside the straight line. 

The right side of your strip should now look like this!  Pretty! 

Repeat with all of the strip ends until you have just one long strip.

Now it's time to make the bias fabric strips into double folded bias tape!  

If you have a fancy bias tape maker, you can use that according to package instructions.  But for many of us who don't, we can do it the old fashioned way.  It just requires an iron. 

First, fold the strip in half and iron so there is a crease along the center of it. 

Then fold each of the long raw ends to the center crease and iron them. Your fabric should now look like the photo above.  You can see three fold lines that divide the strip into four equal sections.  

Fold the raw edges into the center and then fold in half again, so you have all the edges enclosed, with one fold on one side and two folds on the other side.  This should look familiar now, right? You made bias tape! 

 Because my bias tape was so tiny, I put pins in it so it would stay folded for the photo. I was really happy with how my project turned out.  I can't show you quite yet though -- it's a surprise! 

Go ahead and try out it out yourself now!  You can make fun bias trims out of any fabric you have on hand.

Let's Create! ~ Kristen

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