Save money making your own bias tape!

Give your sewing projects a more polished finish.

Bias tape hems raw edges, like hem lines, neck lines and the arm holes of sleeveless dresses. Learning how to make and attach bias tape is really a simple procedure.  My mother taught me how after many unsuccessful trips to the fabric shop. Not only was it near impossible to find the right color, it seemed double fold bias tape was all the shop ever had in stock. My pillowcase dresses were suffering! Bias tape can either match the garment or be a contrasting color. I usually make my bias tape out of leftover and scraps.

Items needed to make bias tape:

  • Measuring tape or marked cutting board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter (rotary cutter is much easier in my opinion)
  • Fabric with a grain, regular weight (broadcloth works well and is cheap)
  • Iron, optional (for best results use one, but I didn't use one in this tutorial)
  • Liquid starch, optional
How to Make Bias Tape 01

Step 1:

Lay the fabric to be cut in the correct direction. You will want to cut against the grain, not with the grain. Why? A straight grain cut will only adapt to straight seams and edges. You want your bias tape to be a stripe of cross-grained material. It will go around curves better, eliminating puckering *Puckering can still occur at times. This is just something that gets better with practice.

The photos show the wrong and correct way to lay the fabric. It needs to be cut in a diagonal manner.

Wrong Way:

How to Make Bias Tape 02

Right Way:

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Step 2:

Figure out how wide you want to cut your strip. This information should be indicated on your pattern. If you are not using a pattern or it doesn't indicate, I usually cut one that is 1 inch wide for regular neck and arm holes. I mostly make dresses and shirts for little girls. Once you have decide  on a size, either line it up on the cutting board, or mark your dimensions with straight pens  or  a fabric pen or chalk. Make sure that you make your strip long enough for your project.

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Step 3:

Cut a straight line on on both sides of your marker, making your strip of bias tape... assuming you have laid your material at a diagonal.

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Step 4:

You can make a crease on each side of your bias tape, folding it on each end. Then run an iron across it to make the creases and fold on each side. When using a printed fabric, all of the outside print should be showing if you make the fold in it. For this project, I didn't iron mine. You can tinker with whatever works best for your projects. Some people just fold the tape in 1/2, so you only have to sew it on once and there is an edge provided. Some people tuck in the bias tape along both seams. For this tutorial, I am doing it as if I'm making a pillowcase dress.

Pin the top/pattern side of the bias tape around the top/pattern side of the hem.  (To outside sides of fabric should be touching) If you are going around a curve, simply use several pins to make the curvature. If you are going around a completely circle, trim of the end to about 3/4" and tuck that end into the starting end.

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Step 5:

Using your sewing machine, sew a 1/8" seam along the edge. If there is a curve, gently turn and hold the fabric as you sew the curve.

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*I used matching bobbin on both sides of this fabric. However, many people use contrasting thread... for example, a pink thread on brown fabric. This would give a trim effect.


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*My sewing machine isn't the best and pulls to one side.  I missed part of the edge and had to go back in and fix it. Inspect and make sure that you hit all of the edges.

Step 6:

Go to the other side and tuck in the edge along the backside. This will cover the raw edge as you sew.  This does work better if you have iron a creased to pin down.


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Step 7:

Now sew a seam along the edge of the bias binding of 1/8". Be sure that you sew along the edge of the bias binding that is open, and not the closed end. This will stop the tape from popping or rolling up during wear and washings.


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Step 8:

Inspect the finished product for defects or uneven seams and trim the threads off.

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Tips and Warnings:

  • Use a cotton/poly blend fabric or prewashed cotton for the choice of material when making bias tape. Unwashed cotton is likely to shrink when washed. However, you should really always prewash anything to test for color fasting and shrinkage.
  • Make sure that you do not get your pins hung in the sewing machine, especially when stitching around holes. It can mess your garment up, but worst, mess up your sewing machine.
  • To seal in the threads, so they don't pull loose I use this technique: I begin my seam as normal making about 4 or 5 stitches. Then I hit reverse on the sewing machine and making backwards stitches over the first ones. Finally I stitch back over going forwards and continue my seam.
  • When sewing a pillowcase dress, I found it easier to complete each side with finished edges/hems except for the very top (where the ribbon goes) then sew the two sides together. Then I finish the top hems.
  • Polka dots and stripes make cute armhole hemming on shirts and dresses. Bias tape doesn't have to go on the inside of the armhole. You can do it on the outside too.
  • You can also enclose a fabric edge using a ribbon such as grosgrain ribbon. What a great way to match hair bows to an outfit!  These edges and hems can get fancy very easily giving your garment pizzazz and class.
  • Sometimes fabric stores like Hancock's will have their sewing notions for 50% off. Then you can get the bias and hemming tape very cheap. The only problem is I find it very hard to find matching colors in the right sizes.