How to Sew with Bias Tape


So we showed you How to Make your own Bias Tape, and you were psyched, but y’all asked for a primer on how to actually sew with it. So here you are, my friends. It’s quite simple and once you start you will end up using it all the time.

Bias Tape finishes edges and keeps curves stabilized. In this post I’ll show you how to start and finish, how to sew it on, and how to make a mitered corner. So read up on it and practice, because in our next newsletter we are going to give you the scoop on our upcoming contest, and the winner will receive a Simplicity Bias Tape Making Kit, including a Bias Tape Maker machine, 8″ Dressmaker shears, and an awesome Bias Ruler. Subscribe here so you get the full scoop.

Get the basics on How to Sew With Bias Tape after the jump…

And remember, any comment you leave this week could win you some Alexander Henry fabric and mod podge to get crafty with!

How to Sew With Bias Tape

First off, this is single fold bias tape:

And this is double fold:

Double fold bias tape is just single fold bias tape folded in half and ironed. Learn How to Make Bias Tape here.

I made the bias tape used in this tutorial using Tina Givens Opal Owl Grain in Ivory from Fabricworm. The other fabric you see is Tina Givens Opal Owl Bark in Ivory.

Single fold bias tape can be used instead of facing to create a finished edge, especially around a curve. On a sleeve opening for example.  To see how this is done, check out the tutorial for the One Shoulder Dressy Dress, which explains it in detail with pics.

So we are going to focus on double fold bias tape today. You can sew with double fold bias tape two ways. The first way is called single step binding. This means you are not going to unfold it. You are just going to slip it around an edge and sew it on.  The second way is called two step binding. In this case you are going to unfold the bias tape, sew one side on, then fold it back up and sew the other on.

I’m going to walk you through it. Here goes.

To start, buy some pre-made bias tape from the sewing store. Take it out of the package and iron the kinks out of it (from being wrapped around the cardboard). Now look at it. You’ll notice one side is slightly shorter than the other:

The shorter side is the side you want on top, for both single step binding and two step binding. If you are doing single step binding, just slip your bias tape around the edge you are finishing with the narrower side on top, and sew it on next to the edge. Because the narrower edge is on top you are sure to catch both sides of the bias tape as you sew. Now let’s do a detailed tute on two step binding, as it is a little more complicated.  I’m making a project-to-be-revealed-later that has corner, so I can show you how to sew a mitered corner with double fold bias tape.

So, open up your bias tape and find the narrower edge. Align that edge to the edge of your fabric, right sides facing. Start in the middle of one side of your item. At the beginning fold the bias tape down into a triangle like this:

Pin the bias tape all the way around your item, edges aligned, right sides facing:

If your item has curves instead of sharp corners, just curve the bias tape and pin the edges. If your item has corners, pin almost to the corner like so:

Then lift your bias tape, fold it around the other edge and pin again. You will have a little triangle of fabric, just push it to the side, like this:

When you get back to your starting point, pin the bias tape over the point you made to start, overlapping a few inches:

Now we sew the bias tape in place along the fold. Start on one edge and sew in place until just before the corner, then cut your threads and remove your item:

Push the corner triangle of fabric to the other side and pin it out of your way:

Then sew the next edge in place along the fold in the bias tape.

You will see you have a triangle at the corner like this:

Continue this process around all four corners until your bias tape is attached to your project:

Now, fold your bias tape back up and flip it over to encase the unfinished edge. Pin it in place. It should just barely cover your previous stitch line, like this:

At the corners, check that it is folded into a nice diagonal and pinned well.

Here is what it looks like from the other side:

So pin all the way around your item:

Now go ahead and sew it in place about 1/8″ from the edge on the opposite side from the one you sewed before.

Here is what it should look like from the top:

You’re done! I wish I could do a big reveal but stay tuned, I’ll be posting the full tute for my project soon!

Thank you, bias tape, my sweet love, for all that you do.

So – was this helpful?

by

65 Comments

Ellen

Question – how do you decide whether to just slip it on and sew or to unfold and to the longer route? I love bias tape (I'm not sure why people say 'best thing since sliced bread' when they COULD say 'best thing since bias tape'), but I'm never sure when it's ok to do the shortcut, so I always take the long road.

Which is worth it for bias tape. But still.

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Mariel

Thank you so much I made some last night to use today, so it couldn't have come at a better time! How did you know! 🙂

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Jen

It was! I never knew to fold down the edge when you started or how to sew corners. Thanks for the great tut. Hopefully I'll get one of those cute little bias tape makers under the tree this year. 🙂

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Sarah

I have a quilt top sitting in the baby's room right now waiting for me to get over my binding anxiety and quilt it! These sorts of posts, including the ones over at OhFransson! are what have pushed me to even attempt to figure these things out on my own. It's almost like being close enough to my family to learn stuff in person *sniff*. Sorry – postpartum moment there…

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Patrick, Ashley, and Audrey

YES! Thanks you thank you thank you! I have been doing it wrong! Now I know why I couldn't get it just right. Can I make single fold into double fold just by ironing it?
Looking forward to the single fold tut soon!:)
You are awesome!

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Melissa

Oh. Mah. Word. I love your site!!!! You guys are so helpful!!! I wish I could transplant you to my town, so you can impart all of your crafting wisdom to me in person!

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Deanna

I wonder sometimes how you ladies come up with a post every day. There's always something, a project, links, photos. How do you do it!?

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Jaime

ellen – the general rule is if it's a straight edge you can do single step binding and if it curves always do double step. and it always looks better if you hand sew the second side only through the middle layer (so you don't see the stitches on the other side), like for a quilt, but i rarely have that kind of time!

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Jamie

I just got a bias tape maker from my oh so wonderful Mom! I plan on making lots of bias tape in the days to come, especially for some of those too cute baby blankets you've posted tutorials for.

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Natalie

How crazy- I was just laying in bed the other night thinking I needed to look up a tutorial on how to sew with bias tape! See, this is why I love y'all! I also had the same question another had, how do you know when to sew it the longer way versus the shorter way?

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Shean

Thank you so much for this post. I have searched for a step by step with picture tutorial on binding only to be left more confused and a short bused quilt. This has saved my Christmas quilt.

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Kamaile

That was soooo helpful. I have a project that requires me to use bias tape and I've been putting it off because I wasn't sure how to use it. Thanks so much for posting this, I think I'll go and finish that project now.

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aja reeser

thank you so much!! the mitered corner explanation was most helpful. i recently did a small floor quilt/ blanket thing (with jiffy grip backing so it's non-skid! how smart am i?) and every corner of the binding is botched, each in its own unique way (not so smart)! i have a feeling i will be redeemed come my next bias-tape project. thanks again!!

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Rainy Dae

Thank you thank you thank you for this! I've used bias tape for the ties in my pillowcase dress (thanks for that link) but I could have dressed myself in bias tape for Halloween it's actual sewing uses are so scary to me!

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Melissa

Thanks! I am making a baby clothes quilt for my daughter and I was wondering how to do the corners with bias tape…now her quilt with be fabulous instead of ghetto:)

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Rachel

Let me start by saying that I am a BRAND. NEW. sewer. I got my first sewing machine for my birthday this summer, and I can use my straight stitch, my zig-zag, and my button whole maker. That's it- I can't even do a zipper yet.

Well, I must have been taking crazy pills, because I told my sister in law that I would make a banana costume for my 3 year old neice. I had no pattern and no experience, but for some reason I was ballsy enough to just go for it. I bought some felt and made it work! I finished the head and arm holes with bias tape and it looked okay, but I definately need these tips. I think my next attempt will turn out much better!

PS- I just found your blog, and I LOVE all of the tips, tutorials, and project ideas! My husband is about to start grad school, and I am happy to find so many new ideas to keep me busy!

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Jeanne

Beautiful! I've been trying to work with bias tape and losing the battle. Would you mind showing pictures of what a curve should look like? I've been doing little folds at (somewhat) regular intervals and am not sure it looks as good as it could. Of course, I wasn't doing the double-sew method, which I think would help immensely.

Also, whatever your project is, it's real purdy!

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The Johnsons

Very very helpful! Thank you so much!!!
Although – if I waited to have my first attempt at mitered corners until AFTER I read this, it would have saved 2 sewing machine needles and a great deal of frustration this past weekend! 🙂

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Mel Titus Tsai

I seriously love these tutorials! Hopefully one of these days I will finally make the quilt that is waiting patiently for me to do, and will attempt to make my own bias tape and everything!

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Kimberly

This is so rad; thank you. For whatever reason I'm completely intimidated by the tape, but no longer. Finished projects here I come!

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Mrs. Rogers

Great tutorial! I have blanket ready for homemade bias tape! Also, love the nail polish just put on a coat of Essie Sew Psyched…it seems appropriate!

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Val

It's always nice to have a skill refresher right before I dive headfirst into a pie of fabric! I love the way you miter your corners, it's much cleaner (and appears much easier) than the way I've been doing it since my mother taught me 100 years ago (Ok, early '80's). Thanks so much for posting this today!

For Ellen and A Green Jelly Bean- I've always felt that the two step binding looks nicer, especially when both sides of the binding will be seen. I ony use the one step if a) only one side will be seen, b)I'm in a rush, and 3)I'm something to satisfy a temporary child fancy.

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Erin

Ohhhh…so that's how you do it! I have struggled with bias tape for so long. My husband asked why I can't just "stick" it on and be done. I guess he takes the tape part a bit too literally. =-) It's good to know there is a short side and a long side. I think that lack of knowledge is where most of my bias tape problems came from.

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Kate

Very helpful tut! I'm going to give my corners some extra practice using your method, because I'm pretty sure what I'm doing now I just made up myself. No wonder my corners are such a pain in the bias!

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vickigraff

So helpful! Thanks! I made the bias tape bag for my first bias tape project – it turned out great, but i had a few bias tape kinks that, thanks to this tutorial, i can work out next time!
now to work on the mitered corners…

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skehrer

Great tutorial! I have a quick question. I am a newish sewer and I am trying to bias tape a v neck, only when I get to the V I have all sorts of trouble. Any tips?

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Rhiannon

my first attempt at sewing bias tape was horrendous! I never wanted to do it again! Thanks soooo much for teaching me how!!!

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Nicky

So glad I came across this post! I'm at wits end with the bias tape and how to fold it. Don't know how I'll do it quite yet 'cause I was just going to start of the sides of my project but not the bottom?! Can't wait to check out the rest of your blog too! 😀 Happy Friday!

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D. Nosek

Thank you so much for the easy mitered corners! I have made and used my own bias tape (I like it better than the prebought stuff!) but I have ALWAYS messed up the corners and could never figure out how to do it when reading from my quilting books so having the picture tutorial is wonderful! One extra tip for those that don't hand stich and don't mind seeing the stitching when sewing on the bias tape, if you use a zipper foot and run the edge of the zipper foot on the edge of the bias tape, it get's the nice finished look and close to the edge so it doesn't flip up much in the back. Again, Thanks!! (I also have a foot that you can use to attach the bias tape if you want to do the one step methoid but I haven't been able to figure that one out yet either! So…. if you have one of those feet, a tutorial would be nice as well. Just saying! LOL) Now to go through the rest of the tutorials!

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Danielle Smith

This was so helpful! Just bound my first quilt in two tries – first unsuccessfully with an awful video my mother-in-law recommended on YouTube, and then successfully with this tutorial. Thank you! You ladies are the best. XO

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Annette

Thank you! I wish I saw this before last night when I ruined an apron completely because of those corners…

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Rachael

Hi there!

I am brand new to sewing. Brand new. I am making my daughter’s birthday dress for her 2nd birthday. I am attempting to sew the bias tape along the arm holes and my Singer Simple keeps “eating” the fabric. I am beyond frustrated with it at this point.

Can anyone offer any pointers?

Please & thank you!!

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Wipeable Tablecloth | READY CAT GO

[…] The conventional way of bias binding is unfolding the narrower side of the tape (if you’re not sure what I mean, take a look at the photo below: one side of the bias tape is narrower than the other), and attaching it to the edge of the fabric along the crease, followed by folding the tape over the edge of the fabric and sewing again, along the other side. Here’s a good tutorial for how it’s done: http://prudentbaby.com/2010/11/hot-mess/tips/how-to-sew-with-bias-tape-2/ […]

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