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How to Make Your Own Bias Binding Tape

How to Make Your Own Bias Binding Tape

Recently I started getting into using bias binding on my seams. This is a great way to add some creativity to the inside of your garments (and feels very luxurious to have neat and tidy bound seams!) Bias binding can be done with pre-purchased binding (available at most fabric or craft stores). Or, for an extra-personal touch, you can make your own!

The easiest way to do this is to cut your fabric with a rotary cutter, on a cutting mat, with a see-through ruler. I’ve done it with scissors so it’s certainly possible to do it that way, but it’s a lot more effort – the rotary is much faster!

14- Rotary cutter and cutting mat with see-through ruler

Once you have the fabric cut, you’ll need a bias tape maker.

bias tape maker

 

And finally, an iron.

iron

Optional – spray starch helps to keep your bias binding nice and crisp! This is particularly useful if you are using a slippery or very lightweight, drapey fabric.

Optional – spray starch helps to keep your bias binding nice and crisp! This is particularly useful if you are using a slippery or very lightweight, drapey fabric.

The first step (after pre-washing your fabric), is to cut your fabric on the bias. The bias is the diagonal direction of your fabric, intersecting across the warp (vertical – follows the selvedge) and weft (horizontal) yarns at 45 degrees. There is not a lot of dimensional stability in the bias, so it has a good drape and stretches readily, even on woven fabric with no lycra.

This low dimensional stability means that it will not introduce additional tension at your seam where you sew the bias binding to your garment, which can happen if you cut your strips along the warp or weft directions.

The bias cut allows the strip to shape to the slight curves in your garment – though if you have a lot of wavy lines or sharp curves or corners, it may not be the best seam finish as these are difficult to navigate and can result in more bulk than desired.

The size of the seam allowance and the desired finished width of your binding will determine how thick each strip will be. For TAL patterns, I generally like to use the 18mm bias tool, which requires a 38mm (1.5”) bias strip of fabric. This size binding takes up most of the visible seam, which is a personal preference, but you can use a thinner bias tape according to your own preference.

Or, use the same size tape but make the seam bigger, as you would for a French seam (you must do this before cutting out your fabric).

Bias tape maker tools usually come in packages that include multiple sizes, so you can experiment to determine which one you like best.

Something to also keep in mind is the thickness of your bias fabric. You don’t want to use a fabric that’s too thick to make your bias tape. The tape will have multiple folds, equalling a total of 6 layers of fabric when stitched together! That includes the bias tape face and the folded seam allowance (two layers of fabric), the seams of your garment (another two layers), and the bias tape back and it’s folded seam allowance (the final two layers).

Keeping your bias tape lightweight will make it easier to sew and keep the bulkiness to a minimum.

Once your bias tape has been cut, you’ll have many strips of fabric that will need to be sewn together. When sewing together, remember to align the edges according to where you will be sewing the seam into the binding.

There should be a little pointy corner at each side of the binding edge. If in doubt, and to avoid a run-in with your seam ripper, pin your binding in place, and flip the fabric over to ensure it makes a smooth strip of fabric so you know you’re about to sew the right way.

 bias tape with corner to corner

Bias tape on sewing machine

 

 Bias tape pieces sewn together

Once your bias tape pieces have been sewn together to make a long continuous piece, press the seams and trim the excess corners.

Tape pressed after sewing

Trimming the corner

Tape ready for bias tape maker: pressed, corners trimmed

Now you’re ready to use the bias maker tool. Choose the size that is appropriate for your fabric width. For 38mm (1.5”) of fabric, I use the 18mm tool.

18mm tool with ruler measuring the width of the folded bias tape 

Feed your bias tape through the tool, from the wide part toward the narrow opening. You’ll see the fabric start to curl according to how it’s being shaped inside the tool. Once you’ve pulled a few cm out of the tool, you can pin your fabric to your ironing board to help keep it in place as you press the binding.

Tape pinned to the ironing board 

Holding the bias tape maker in one hand, gently pull it along while pressing with your other hand. I like to pull a few cm and then press flat, holding the fabric with the iron while I pull a few more cm, then lift the iron and press flat on the newly exposed area.

I find that If I push the tool along with my iron, it introduces crinkles and wrinkles I do not want. So take your time to get a perfect crease.

Ironing the tape 

 Once all your bias tape is ironed, you are ready to sew your bias binding seams.

 


image of the author Kirsten  

About the author:

Kirsten Schaefer started sewing as a hobby over 25 years ago. She currently teaches textiles and fashion design at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and continues to sew garments for herself in her free time. She loves bright and bold colours, natural fibres, and surprise details, like superbly finished seams!

You can find her on Instagram 

 @seamstoanend

 


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