how to use a bias tape maker

So now you’ve got all those nice bias strips cut and assembled, using either the traditional or the continuous method. What’s next?

Folding and pressing the bias strips to make bias tape can take a long time if you’re making a lot of it. In order to make bias tape, you need to press the binding in half to find the center, then open it up and press both of the edges to meet at the middle. That’s a lot of folding and pressing. But a bias tape maker can make quick work of it without singed fingers.

 

Bias3

 

Bias tape makers come quite a few sizes. We’re carrying my favorite, most-used sizes in the shop. Keep in mind that bias tape makers come in different sizes, so it’s important to use the right size bias tape maker for your bias strips. I tend to use 3/8″ binding for a lot of apparel sewing projects, and for bias binding that’s 3/8″ wide you’ll use the 3/4″ bias tape maker. (The width indicated on the bias tape maker package is twice the width of your finished binding, because you’ll fold the binding in half again when you apply it. So for 1/2″ binding, you’d use the 1″ tape maker and 2″ wide cut bias strips. Makes sense, right?)

The process is very simple. Once you’ve got your strips assembled, you simply feed one end of the strip into the wide end of the tape maker. It helps if the end of the strip is cut at an angle.

 

Bias1

 

There’s a little groove down the center of the bias tape maker so you can use a pin or bodkin to pull the fabric through the tape maker if it doesn’t slide in easily. Then gently coax the strip out the narrow end of the tape maker and you’ll see that the fabric is being folded as it passes through the tape maker.

 

Bias2

 

I like to pin the end of the strip to the ironing board to get started. Then slowly slide the tape maker along the bias strip, moving your hot iron along with it, just a couple of inches behind the tape maker so you’re pressing the folded bias as it emerges from the tape maker. Once you reach the end of your ironing board, simply unpin the strip and shift the binding so you can fold and press the next section. Easy, right? With practice, you’ll get really fast at this and your bias tape will be smooth and professional looking.

 

Bias3

 

Continue to slide and press, and when you come to a seam, stop and coax the fabric into the tape maker carefully if it needs help. (It’s best to keep the seam allowances open so the tape will be less bulky.)

When I’m finished pressing my bias tape, I like to wind it around a piece of heavy cardstock to keep it nicely pressed and ready for use. I usually make quite a bit of binding at one time so I have extra for other projects. Like for the fabric bunting I made for S’s birthday party. If you make more than you actually need you’ll slowly build up a stash of binding for those unexpected projects.

 

finished-bias-tape

 

Instructions for applying the bias tape are included in most of our patterns, as well as in my book. (I use a slightly different approach to sewing binding than most people.) And April wrote a really nice tutorial for us about bound seams, if you’re thinking about using bias tape to finish the seams on the Secret Agent Trench Coat, the Sunday Brunch Jacket, or any other projects without a lining.

Now that you know how to do it, I hope you’ll be making your own binding for some of your sewing projects!

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6 Comments:

susan vh said...

Great tutorials for bias binding!!!! You are such an inspiration to new and old sewists. I love having yards of unique bias in my stash. Everyone should make bias from their scraps. Never know when you will need it. Susan VH

Hally said...

Thank you very much for the tutorial. its very helpful

marjorie said...

I have not seen this bias tape maker in stores. need to buy one. thank you for the tutorial.

Anna G said...

LOVE the bias tape presentation. I’m making a quilt that has vines that go straight up on either side of a house then curve toward each other meeting on either side of a circle with a star inside…these are to be appliqued…at the bottom of the stem (vine?) it’s about 3/4″ tapering to about 3/8″ on up….is there a way to make bias tape for needle turn applique’ that does the tapering? Also, there are about 12 – 15 leaves on either side of each vine…would you think it better to tuck those under the stem/vine? or just place them close? Thanks so much! Anna

Jesse said...

This is probably a really silly question, but I’m a beginner sew-ist… can you use any fabric to make bias tape? I’m about to start a sewalong project using a jersey fabric and I’d like the bias binding to be the same fabric, but I’m not sure how it will go… suggestions?
Thank you!

Liesl Gibson said...

Jesse, good question! In general, binding is best made out of light- to medium-weight woven fabrics. Heavy-weight fabrics get too thick and bulky with all the layers. Since knits are already stretchy from selvedge to selvedge, they don’t need to be cut on bias. But you can make binding from knits by cutting strips from selvedge to selvedge. You’ll probably want to use a stretchy stitch to attach them, and maybe a walking foot would help. You could also try fold-over elastic, which is great for finishing the edges of knits. I hope that helps! You can also get a lot more help and guidance on our discussion forums. I recommend checking them out!

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