How to Make your Own Bias Tape

First, you'll need to make evenly spaced strips.

To make the strips evenly spaced, I highly recommend getting a Simflex gauge. It's an awesome little gadget. Works great for button spacing, eyes, button holes, drapery pleats, dress or skirt pleats, quilting pattern layout, knitting and crochet design, shirring, smocking, cake decorating, gardening to space out seedlings, woodworking, crafts and anything else that needs evenly spaced lines or spaces.

How to Make the Strips

From JoAnn Fabric Home Decorating Hints:

Yardage Chart for Bias Strips

Amount of Fabric   Approximate Running Yards of 1 5/8" wide bias strips
    36" fabric 48" fabric 54" fabric
1/4 yd.   4 1/2 5 1/2 7
1/2 yd.   10 13 14
3/4 yd.   16 20 22
1 yd.   22 26 29 1/2

Use this chart as a general guide for other widths also, e.g., 3" wide strips yield about half the yardage as 1 5/8"-wide strips.

Fabrics cut on the bias have more stretch than fabrics on the grainline. For this reason, bias strips are useful on curved edges or on fabrics that are too heavy to hem, such as quilted fabrics. They are often used in apparel to finish armholes & necklines. Placemats & napkins look great with bias-bound edges of coordinating or contrasting fabric. 

Making Separate Bias Strips 

Use this method primarily when strips must follow a particular design line on the fabric or you need only a few strips. Fold the fabric diagonally so that the lengthwise grain aligns with the crosswise grain. Press this diagonal fold, then cut along the fold. The cut edge is the bias line. Measure and mark lines parallel to the cut edge, spacing them the desired bias width until you have as much as you need. Mark 1/4" seam allowances along the lengthwise grain. See Figure A.

Cut the marked strips & make sure the ends are on the straight grain. Trim the ends if necessary. Matching the seam allowance lines with the right sides together, align two strips at right angles to form a V. See Figure B. Stitch 1/4" seams and press open. Trim off extending points.

Making a Continuous Bias Strip 

This method is quicker than making separate bias strips, but it will not yield as much yardage since the triangles at each end are not used.

Fold, cut and mark the fabric as described in Making Separate Bias Strips. Discard the triangles at both ends of the fabric. See Figure A.

Number the strips on the wrong side of the fabric. Mark the same number at both ends of the strip. With right sides together, pin the long edges together to form a tube. The marked lines should be aligned to that the numbers DO NOT MATCH and one strip extends on each side. (Sew 1 & 2, 2 & 3, 3 & 4, etc) Stitch the edges along the seam allowance line. Press the seam open. See Figure C.

Cut along the marked lines in a spiral starting between strip number 1 & 2 and continue all the way through strips 4 & 5, in one continuous strip.

Here's how I make the strips into bias tape:

Once the strips are made, place 2 large needles (the longer you can find them, the better) into your ironing board as shown in the photographs. The distance you put between the "in and out" of the needles is determined by the size of your bias strips. For demonstration purposes, the space shown is  about 1 inch.

Start the bias by folding down both edges towards the middle and feeding through the needles.

Once you get enough through, place your hot iron on the spot where the needles are and pull the bias strip through the needles and under the iron. I am right handed, so I pull with my right and feed with my left. And for goodness sakes use common sense and don't burn yourself!

Click the thumbnails to see the full size images.


Needles with one inch spacing


Fold and begin feed


Place hot iron over needles

Fold and feed with left hand


Pull with right hand


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