Bias Tape Q&A - What is, How to Sew and When to Use Bias Tape

An Assortment of Bias Tape Packages
An Assortment of Bias Tape Packages. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

What is bias tape:

Bias tape is strips of fabric that has been cut on the bias of fabric. Packaged bias tape may be purchased in various widths, in single fold and double fold forms. The width of the bias tape is a variable and is a variable if you are cutting your own bias tape.

Bias cut strips of fabric cover cording of piping in pillows and many other sewing projects. Once again the size of the bias tape strip is a variable that depends on the size of the cording that will be covered.

Cutting your own bias tape is easy to achieve. Using rotary cutting tools is the easiest way to cut your own bias strips of fabric. Knowing How to Use Rotary Rulers and Cutters is the first step to cutting perfect bias strips. Cutting your own bias strips are used in many sewing projects to cover your own cording for piping.

Where to use Bias tape:

Bias tape can be used on almost any raw edge of fabric to enclose the raw edge. It is perfect for a decorative finish on a curved edge because the bias will bend and ease around the curve.
It is used in many quilting techniques and sewing projects.

Why use bias tape:

Bias tape will "bend" to a curved edge that a straight grain strip will not curve to without kinks and warping.On quilts and other projects it is a way to enclose the raw edge of layers of fabric with matching or contrasting fabric.

Do I Need Special Sewing Equipment to Sew Bias Tape?

You do not need special equipment.

Mastering sewing straight lines is the first step to achieving great results when you are sewing on bias tape.  Adjustable Bias Tape Binding Foot - How Do You Use it?  explains how to use a special presser foot that is designed for sewing on bias tape but is not a necessary piece of equipment in order to sew on bias tape.

Bias Tape as a Garment Facing

Many new patterns do not have full facings. They instruct you to use bias tape on the area that would have had a facing in days gone by, to enclose the raw edge of some parts of a garment.  This is done with single fold bias tape.

How to sew single fold bias tape:

Single fold bias tape may be sewn down in the form it came out of the package, using basic sewing machine stitches or a decorative stitch. Sewing straight lines is an important part of sewing bias tape and having a professional finished product.

To have stitching on just one edge of the single fold bias tape, place the correct side of the bias tape on the correct side of the fabric, open one edge of the tape and stitch in the fold line of the bias tape. Press and turn to have the correct side of the bias tape showing on the correct side of the fabric. Sew the remaining edge of the bias tape down on the fabric.

As a facing, the bias tape is opened and sewn on the fold with the right sides of the garment and the right side of the bias tape facing each other.

Start with the end of the bias tape folded and end by over lapping the folded area.  Then bias tape is then folded to the inside of the garment, the seam is trimmed or graded if needed, pressed in place and then sewn in place on the un-sewn edge of the bias tape. Under-stitching can be used to help the bias tape stay to the inside of the garment.

How to sew double fold bias tape:

  • Method One: To sew double sided bias tape, open the bias tape and place the correct side of the tape to the correct side of the fabric. Open one edge of the bias tape to align the fold with the seam line. Stitch in the fold line of the bias tape. Press to the finished location of the bias tape and top stitch it in place.
  • Alternate Method: When you are using purchase double fold bias tape, you will notice that one edge is not as wide as the other. Enclose the raw edge with the bias tape, keeping the narrower edge on the top side or the side that will be up when you are sewing. Pin or hand baste the bias tape in place. Carefully sew along the very edge of the narrower edge of the bias tape.  The edge that is underneath should be sewn if you have aligned everything properly in the pinning or basting stage.

 

Projects to Practice Bias Tape Sewing Skills

These projects use bias tape in various parts of the construction and do not use a lot of fabric. Practice sewing these projects with bias tape to master the sewing technique.