A very long time ago, I learned to make quilts from an amazing quilter who made her own bias tape for binding her quilts. Her method did not require any special tools beyond scissors and a sewing machine. She taught me how to do it and I continue to use what she taught me to make my own bias tape for most of my projects that need some sort of binding. What’s cool about this is you aren’t limited to the few selections in the stores.
In this post, I will teach you how to make your own bias tape using the same technique she taught me.
Materials and Tools to Make Your Own Bias Tape
- Fabric (determine the amount using the calculator below)
- Seamstress chalk or a pencil
- Sewing machine
How Much Fabric Do You Need?
Your starting piece of fabric to make bias tape needs to be a square. You need to know two pieces of information to determine how big of a square.
You need to have an idea of how much length of bias tape you need. Measure all around your project and add about four inches. If you’re making multiple items, you’ll need to add the four inches for each item. If you are adding loops, like for a hanging pot holder, be sure to include that length in your total. On a seven-inch pot holder, that is seven inches for each side (total of 28″), plus four inches total for the loop, plus the extra four inches. That adds up to 36 inches. But, that is for only one pot holder. Let’s assume I’m making two. Now I need a total of 72 inches of bias tape.
Bias Tape Width
How wide do you need your bias tape? If I go back to the pot holder example, I want my bias tape to bind half an inch of the edges of the pot holder. But, I need to double that because it’s half an inch on each side (front and back) of the pot holder. Plus, I’m sewing it on to the pot holder with a 1/2″ seam allowance. All total, that width is two inches.
Calculate the Size of the Square
This is the formula for calculating the size of the square of fabric. The calculator below will do the math for you.
I also made a chart for doing some quick look-ups you can download from my resource library.
In my example above, I need 72 inches of 2″ bias tape. For the purposes of the calculation:
Length = 72 inches
Width = 2 inches
In my example, the result of the calculation is 14. That means I need a square of fabric that is 14 inches on each side.
Making the Bias Tape
Step 1: Mark-up the Fabric
For these types of marks, you do not need a marking tool that provides precision. You just need to be able to distinguish the marks from each other. A seamstress chalk works fine. I sometimes use a light pencil. I do not use any of the air-erasable or water-erasable markers because pressing them can set the color permanently.
On the back side of the fabric, make the marks shown below in the picture. The placement of the marks is important to indicate the edge you’re working with or aligning to in later steps. The positions of marks along those edges is not important.
- Arrows (->): Against the left and right side
- Circles/Dots (o): Along each side of the diagonal
- Pluses (+): Against the top and bottom edges
Also mark the diagonal so you get a precise cut.
Step 2: Cut and Realign
Cut the square along the diagonal that you marked in Step 1.
With right sides together, line up the edges with the plus (+) symbols marked along the edge and secure. The points of the triangles of fabric will hang off each side by a quarter of an inch.
Step 3: Sew and Press
Sew the edge with the plus (+) symbols using a one-quarter inch (1/4″) seam allowance.
Press open the seam allowance and place the fabric on your work surface with the right side of the fabric down. Place the seam vertically as shown in the picture.
Step 4: Mark the Bias Tape Width
Along the left edge that is marked with the circles (o), measure in from the edge the width of your bias tape and mark it lightly for about 5 inches from the edge marked with the arrows (->).
Step 5: Mark the Off-Shift with Xs
You have two more marks to make.
Place one “x” in the corner to the right (as shown in the image) of the line you drew in Step 4.
Place the other “x” at the top end (as shown in the image) of the seam (from Step 3).
Step 6: Initial Cut
Along that 5-inch line that you marked in Step 4, cut along that line for those five inches.
Step 7: Reposition the Fabric
Turn the fabric over so that it is right side up and rotate it so one of the edges marked with circles (o) is closest to you and the cut you made is to your right.
Step 8: Fold in the Sides and Align the Xs
Take the left point and fold it over to the lower right end of the seam.
Take the right point and fold it over to the upper left end of the seam.
While still holding the right point (the one marked with the “x”, shift the point up to line up the Xs.
Place these edges with right sides together.
Secure the edges with pins or clips.
Step 9: Sew and Press
Sew the seam using a one-quarter inch (1/4″) seam allowance.
Press open the seam allowance.
Step 10: Turn, Mark, and Continuous-Cut
Turn the tube so that the fabric is facing right side out.
Starting at the point where you have the initial cut, using your ruler, continue to mark your bias tape width and cut along your marks.
Continue marking and cutting.
You now have a continuous strip of fabric cut on the bias.
Fold the bias tape in half and press.
Optionally, you can now fold in each half again and press to achieve the final product.
Your bias tape is now ready for your project that needs binding.
If you want to remember how to make your how bias tape, pin this post and share it with your followers!
Wonderful tutorial! And I love that you have a calculator. 😀