Bias tape has been described as the gaffer tape of the sewing world – the instant fix for any unexpected challenge or disaster; a neat and easy finish for edges, armholes and everything in between.
I’m love/hate with bias tape. I love how useful it is, it’s my favourite finish for necklines. I also love it for hemming. But there are few sewing-related tasks I hate more than making bias tape.
I assumed this was a majority view, but after House of Pinhiero’s recent #sewphotohop challenge on Instagram, I’m not so sure. Did you follow the challenge? It was a month of amazing little insights into the sewing worlds of people all from all over, well, the world. Each day posed a new question/topic, and sewists posted pics and captions in response.
Call me glass half empty, but my favourite day was Worst Part of Sewing. It was reassuring to see that so many people out there also struggle with the grind of pattern taping, pinning, cutting out and ripping. But I was genuinely shocked that making bias tape didn’t rate much of a mention. Am I the only one?
Much as I hate the fiddling, the relentless cutting of straight lines and the burnt fingers from iron steam, I accept that making bias tape is a part of making lovely things, so here are a few tutes and tips that have helped me with my struggles:
There are a few methods for cutting both single and double bias tape, and it’s really a case of finding the one that suits you best. There are also hundreds of pictorial and video tutorials out there – I like the ones below because the photos are big and the instructions are clear and concise.
This Collette tutorial is a great guide to making continuous bias tape. It’s a little fiddly to get going but it’s really economical with fabric – loads of tape from a medium square.
This Purlbee post is a straightforward guide to making basic, single-fold bias binding – and the photos are pretty as always.
Or there’s Purlbee’s time-saving version that uses more fabric, a real-life proper qualified professional clothes maker friend swears by it.
And to save yourself from iron steam burns, this one is life changing – Collette’s tutorial on how to use a pin to fold and iron bias tape (it’s the little things….)
There are of course a bazillion ready-made options for bias tape, but so many of the pre-made versions are scratchy poly-cotton blends, and they can make a neckline or finish look stiff and ‘homemade’. It’s important to get the right movement and weight for the fabric you’re sewing with – and often the cheap binding fails to deliver.
Luckily there are some patient people out there who hand make the stuff for a living, and others who stock the quality tape. You can’t go wrong with these ready-made options:
The Liberty Haberdashery Etsy store stocks a range of beautiful Liberty binding. There’s something so satisfying about gorgeous secret flowery finishes on your own makes.
Melbourne peeps can find Liberty binding tape closer to home at Patchwork on Central Park (they also post).
The SoBiased Etsy store is constantly updating small runs of bias tape in sweet prints from Cotton + Steel, Robert Kaufman and others. Follow them on Instagram for regular updates on new stock.
I’ve tried to make bias tape with double gauze but mine always ends up too thick and wonky. These Jones and Vandermeer people have nailed it with divine Nani Iro tape.
Grainline’s tutorial on how to sew a flat bias neckline literally changed my (sewing) life forever. Before using this method my necklines often ended up gaping and puckering. Never again….
A great tutorial I’ve found to get a neat front for visible bias finishes is at Oliver and S. The key difference with this one is that final stitch line is on the outside of the garment. Most methods do this final line from underneath, but I’ve found I often turn the garment over and the stitching is wonky and hasn’t caught the binding. Avoid the rage….
Burdastyle is here to help with those tricky v-necks and inverted corners.
And for those brave soldiers who want to go full binding with Hong Kong seams (so amazingly professional and polished), this Craftsy tute is a great overview.