It’s time for a confession- I used to find making bias tape terrifying. I thought it intimidating and difficult to master. Once you break it down into steps, though, it’s actually pretty simple! Being confident in making your own bias tape releases you from the bonds of the stiff, store-bought stuff and opens the door to so many wonderful bias tape possibilities.
In this tutorial, we will be teaching how to make three different types of 1/2″ wide bias tape: 1/2″ wide double fold tape, 1/2″ wide single fold tape, and our favourite, 1/2″ wide “thirds” tape.
To make bias tape, shears or a rotary cutter, a quilting ruler, an iron, and, optionally, these little bias tape makers.
The very first step is cutting the strips that will eventually become your tape. Bias tape needs to be cut on a 45-degree angle (the bias), so that your tape has the flexibility and stretch to go nicely around curved edges. The easiest way to ensure you are cutting on a 45-degree angle is to use a quilting ruler with a 45-degree line. Line up the 45-degree line with the selvedge edge of your fabric, and cut along the edge of the ruler to create a perfect 45-degree cut.
For 1/2″ wide double fold tape, cut strips 1 7/8″ wide. Find the 1 7/8″ marking on your ruler, and make sure it is aligned with the new diagonal edge of your fabric from top to bottom before cutting your strips.
For 1/2″ wide single fold strips, follow the same procedure, only using the 1″ mark on your ruler to cut 1″ strips.
For “thirds” tape, follow the same procedure, using the 1.25″ mark to cut 1.25″ strips.
Here is a handy chart to help you know what size strips to cut:
We want our bias tape to be continuous, so we will sew all of the strips together to create one long strip.
First, cut off the diagonal edges of the strips.
Then, line up the two strips perpendicular to one another, right sides facing, with the flat, short edge of one strip lined up with the long edge of the second strip as pictured below.
Place two of the strips at 90-degree angles with the right sides together, lining up the edges. Sew diagonally across the corners. Repeat to join all the strips. Trim the seams down to a 1/4″ and press them open.
Now we make the tape! The 1/2″ wide double fold and single fold tape we’re making in this tutorial use bias tape makers- the “thirds” bias tape doesn’t require a bias tape maker.
You can also make single and double fold bias tape without a bias tape maker by simply folding and pressing it by hand. Be extra cautious not to put your fingers too close to your iron!
For the double fold bias tape, we’re using a 25mm bias tape maker. Guide the short edge of your tape into the wide end of the bias tape maker. Cutting the end into a point may help you guide it through.
A handy way to anchor the end of your tape piece is to pin it to your ironing board. That way, you can use both hands to press the tape.
Gently pull the bias tape maker down the length of the tape strip, pressing the folds flat as you go along. The tip of the iron is really useful here.
If you are making tape without one of these doo-hickys, you can fold each edge of the strip in towards the center. I like to fold one side and then the other, as it can be challenging to do both at once.
Once you have used the bias tape maker to make the first folds, fold the tape in half (with the raw edges enclosed) and press. Voila! Double fold bias tape!
Single Fold Tape
The process for making the 1/2″ wide single fold tape is very similar. For the single fold tape, we used a 12mm bias tape maker.
As with the double fold tape, pin the end of your tape to the ironing board, and guide the bias tape maker down the strip of tape, pressing the folds with your iron as you go.
If you are doing this without a bias tape maker, you fold the edges in towards the middle. Be very careful not to burn your fingers- this can be finicky on such a narrow strip of fabric.
Since this is single fold tape, once you’ve completed these steps, your tape is finished.
Now, the last kind of tape we are making is specifically for bias facings. It is a variation on single fold bias tape. We really like this “thirds” bias option. It doesn’t take much time to make, and it makes an excellent bias facing for a top or York Pinafore.
To make “thirds” bias tape, we will be folding our strip, well, into thirds. Take one third of your tape strip and fold it over the middle third.
Press with your iron.
Next, fold the remaining third of your strip over the first third, and press.
That’s it! This tape is great for finishing the neckline of a woven tank top or t-shirt, the edges of the York Pinafore or York Apron, or any other pattern that has you using bias facing.
Now, you have cute, 1/2″ bias tape that works just as well as the kind you would buy in a store. You can use these techniques to make bias tape at any size, so you can always have one-of-a-kind tape for your next project- AND it’s a great scrap-buster!
Our next post will explain how to finish edges with a bias facing. Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions, or if you have any special tips or tricks for making bias tape!