Making Bias Tape

Hi! I'm Vanessa from Punkin Patterns. I'm thrilled to be posting here on the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild (MMQG) blog. I love being a member of the MMQG. I love getting to know other quilters and sewers who live near me and who all inspire me!  Today I'm going to show you how simple it is to make your own beautiful bias tape -- the perfect finish to your modern quilts!

beautiful bias tape

Making your own bias tape is very easy.  It's less expensive than buying it at the store and far more attractive!

Bias tape is used in making piping, finishing raw edges and of, course in binding a quilt.  There are lots of different widths depending on the use.  There is single fold bias tape where the two raw edges are folded toward the center, with wrong sides together, pressed in place.  Double fold bias tape is just single fold bias tape which is folded in half again, hiding the single folds, and pressed in place. 

To make bias tape, you can purchase small bias tape making tips like these for less than $10.

bias tape maker tips

They are inexpensive and you just need the size you want and an iron.  I typically only use the 1" tip.

bias tape tips 2

There are also machines available to help you make bias tape which I'll be talking about briefly at the end of this post, but for the most part, the manual methods work just fine.

For this tutorial, I'll be making bias tape from a fat quarter, but what I'll be showing you can be easily applied to a yard of fabric right off the bolt.  Also note there are many ways to do this -- this is what I do and what I find the simplest.  There are some methods out there that sew your fabric into a loop and then you cut a long continuous strip (like you're peeling an apple), but I find that to be a bit more tedious since you need to mark your fabric, then once sewn, cut with scissors which can be a but more time consuming if you're making a lot of bias tape at once.

You can get over 4.5 yards of seam binding from one fat quarter if you're making 1" single fold bias tape -- more if you're making smaller bias tape.  I got roughly 15 yards of 1 1/4" bias tape from a 1 yard cut of fabric.  So, yes, much less expensive than the stuff in the store!

Take your fat quarter and identify the selvage versus the cut side.  The selvage is the finished edge of the fabric formed during the production of the fabric.  The cut side is the side that's cut off the bolt for you at the store.

 Note:: In this photo the cut edges are all serged - simply because I pre-washed  and didn't want the raw edges to fray too much.  If you do this, the serged stitches should be cut off as they can be difficult to fit into the bias tape maker tips and they add unwanted bulkiness to your finished bias tape.

fat quarter

Fold the fabric so that the cut edge of one side lines up with the other, creating a 45 degree angle, which is the bias of the fabric.  Cutting on the bias makes the finished tape stretchier and it drapes better when compared to a strip that is cut on the grain.

fold your fabric

Using scissors, cut along that folded edge of the bias.

cut along the bias

Now you'll have two pieces.

cut in two

So we don't waste any fabric, we're going to sew these two pieces back together into a parallelogram.  If the selvage is still on, make sure to trim that off OR sew a wider seam allowance so that doesn't show in your final seam binding.

join together

Place the right sides together and sew.

place right sides together

Open it up and press flat with an iron and you have your piece ready to cut into strips.

ready for cutting

Cut your fabric into strips, parallel to the bias edge.  The strip width is dependant upon what tip you're using and how wide you want your finished bias tape.  Since I'm using a 1" tip, I'll be cutting my strips to be 2" wide (2x the size of my tip). 

cut strips

Now you'll need to sew your strips together into one long continuous strip.  To do this, lay your strips, right sides together, as shown.  If you line them up end to end, they actually won't come together correctly.  You can think of it this way::  you're lining up the edges along your seam allowance.  So if you're using a 1/4" seam allowance, you'll be lining them up 1/4" from the end (where the sew line is marked).

sewing strips together

When you open it up it looks like this (just trim the extra bits off before use):

joining seam

Alternatively, you could do this:
Trim the ends of your strips so they're rectangles.

another way to join

Place the strips, right sides together, at right angles.  Sew the two strips together at a 45 degree angle (along the dotted line).

another way to join 2

Trim the excess fabric and open to get a nice single strip.

joining seam 2

Repeat will all your strips (using either method) until you have one long continuous strip.

one long contiuous strip

Now grab your bias tape tip and your iron.  Feed the end of the continuous strip into the tip.  You may need to use a needle the the little window to help push your fabric through.  Tip:: Having a well ironed and starched end of the fabric helps too.  Pull it through a little bit to get it started.


Iron your newly folded fabric as you're pulling the metal loop on the bias tip maker.


When you're done, you'll have single fold bias tape.

single fold bias tape

To make double fold bias tape, simply fold in half, hiding the other folded edges and iron in place.

fold in half to make bias tape

To store your beautiful new bias tape, I like to wrap it around an empty toilet paper roll or a piece of a wrapping paper roll.  This way you won't have any creases in your tape when you want to use it.  When you've wrapped up the length of your tape, simply tuck the end under.

finished bias tape

You can also use a machine (like this Simpliciy Bias Tape Maker).

Simplicity bias tape maker

This is a great option if you'll be making a lot of your own bias tape, however it is a bit more expensive to start, and you have to purchase their special bias tips which fit into the machine.  Also, there isn't an easy way to make your single fold bias tape into double fold bias tape.  I tried the manufactures suggestion of putting it back through one side of the tip, but I had trouble getting the double width of the fabric through the tip and it didn't want to stay to one side.  As a result the bias tape wasn't always (actually hardly ever) folded exactly in half.  I tried it without a tip and just ran it through the machine trying to use my hands to get it to fold in half.  It worked better, but not good enough.  So in the end, I grabbed my ironing board and iron and did it the old fashioned way.

That said, it did make the single fold bias tape super fast!!

make it faster

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!!  Now you'll be making your own beautiful bias tape!


  1. Hi Vanessa- This is such an informative, well written, detailed tutorial. Great step-by-step photos too! You make it look easy. I'll have to try this. Thanks, Ellen

  2. Excellent tutorial! I learned this method years ago and still think it's the best. I don't quilt, but love to make my own clothes and the binding around edges of some of my clothing items gives just the right look.



  3. Thanks for the great tutrorial Vanessa! Well done and I'll see you tomorrow night.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial - I bought one of the simple tools years ago, but have never used it. Am about to try it out.

  5. Thanks Vanessa, I bought a tool last year and never grasped how easy it would be. Now I will pick it up and give it a try. I like custom looks and this will be a good way to achieve that without buying an additional electric gadget!


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