How To Make Bias Tape?

When you hear the words “bias tape,” what thought comes to mind? If you are new to quilting, the definition that comes to you first may imply prejudiced adhesive. When you see bias tape in the displays at your local fabric store, however, you will see rather quickly that bias tape in quilting has nothing to do with either of those words.

Bias refers to the cut of fabric. It is cut on the diagonal, which allows the strips to have a little more stretch. This extra flexibility allows the tape to edge even curved corners of your quilt’s edges better. The term “tape” comes into play because this bias strip holds your quilt layers together.

Bias tape is sold in packages of various width. The strips of fabric have the long sides folded and pressed to the back side so you will have clean edges when you sew the tape onto your quilt. Simply center the bias tape around the edge of your quilt and stitch in place. Corners are a little tricky until you get used to them. Don’t let them keep you from trying bias tape, though, because applying bias tape to quilt corners is a lot like wrapping a gift with paper.

The biggest problem with purchased bias tape is that you are limited to your fabric store’s colors and patterns. Maybe you want to use one of the fabrics from your quilt top for the bias tape. The good news is that you can make your own. There are a lot of tools on the market to help you with the task, or you can make your own bias tape with nothing more than your usual quilting supplies.

First, you need to know how much bias tape you need. To do this, simply add together the lengths of all sides of your quilt. A 36 inch square lap quilt would require 36 + 36 + 36+ 36 (144 inches) of binding. A quilt that is 80 inches x 60 inches would need 80 + 80 + 60 + 60. You get the idea. Add extra to the binding. Never make just enough, because in the end, you will have a shortage due to corner tucking. For safe measure, add another 24 inches to accommodate trimming and such.

You also need to determine how wide you want your strip to be. If you want it to be a half-inch edging, you should cut strips 2 inches wide. After you have pressed your fabric, smooth it out , right side up on flat, heat-safe  surface. Fold one corner of the fabric back diagonally, bringing the selvedge to lie diagonally across the fabric. Press the fabric to hold it in place.

From the fold, measure the desired width for your strips. Mark where you will need to cut with a fabric pen or pencil. Use a ruler to give you a nice, straight line on which to cut. Move your folded fabric to your cutting area and slice through the marked lines. That’s all there is to it.

You will need to stitch the strips together to create one long binding strip. Cut the angled corners off each strip to leave straight ends. Stitch the strips together end to end to make your bias tape. Create the clean edges by folding the sides of the tape toward the center and pressing in place. Press on edge to the center of the fabric strip and the other edge almost to the center. The little gap between the two folds will help the tape lie flatter when you sew it onto the sides of your quilt.

By Penny Halgren of

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