Monday, February 20, 2012

How to make bias tape

DIY bias tape
Have you ever thought about making your own bias tape? It's not that hard and it means you can have bias tape (or piping) in any color or pattern!

(Before we start, I recommend reading the instructions all the way through once before you start. And in case you didn't know, you can click on a picture to see it larger—and zoom in!—in Flickr.)

To check if your fabric will look good as bias tape, fold the fabric on the bias (from corner to corner and, using a piece of paper or other neutral object, cover all but the very edge of your fabric.
Testing for bias tapeI've found that stripes and small polka dots almost always work. Larger dots and really large prints can be iffy and, as you see in this photo, medium-size prints make for very abstract bias tape, which sometimes works and sometimes not.

After you've decided on fabric, make a perfect square by cutting or ripping on the grain. (Perfect? Well, as close as you can. The more accurate you are throughout the whole process the closer you get to the true bias, which makes the tape stretchier and more useful but even if you're just reasonably accurate, you'll get bias-y enough to have useful tape. So don't be afraid of this project!)

And by the way, start with a piece of fabric that's a decent size. One yard is great but you can go smaller. Here I started with a square that measured 21" x 21". Smaller squares are easier to work with but they mean you'll have more seams in your tape.

OK, so you have a square that's on grain. Now we're going to make a square on the bias.
Draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner.
Mark off the corners.
Then, using a triangle or a square quilting triangle, draw a line perpendicular to this line. This second line should not be centered and it should be far enough from the corner that it's not too short a line. My line here is about 14" long. Draw a third line (parallel to the second and perpendicular to the first) in the opposite corner. It should be about the same length as the second line. (Meaning it's about as far from the corner as the second line.)

Draw lines.
On your two perpendicular lines, make hash marks the width you want your bias strips. (Remember most bias tape is double fold, so you have to quadruple your desired finished width. My lines are 1" apart here so my finished sewn-on bias tape will be 1/4" wide.) Using these hash marks and a yard stick or long ruler, draw lines across the fabric.

Cut off the corners

Once you get to the ends of your perpendicular lines, you'll run out of hash marks. Cut off the remaining corners.
Lines drawn.

Then cut off the other two corners above and below the perpendicular lines. You now have a square of fabric on the bias with parallel lines drawn on it, also on the bias!

Ready to sew
Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Offset the lines by one so you get this kind of wonky tube. Make sure everything lines up and pin.

Sew and press the seam open.
Tube sewn

Cutting the tube.
Cut along the lines. Keep going around and around until....

Yeah! Bias tape.
you have one big long bias strip!

At this point, you can press it into bias tape or sew it around cord for piping!

DIY bias tape
Or just roll it up for later!

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