Tutorials

Bias Tape Tutorial

Rebecca Górzyńska

Bias tape is a long, thin cloth made by piecing diagonally-cut strips. It’s best for binding, well, anything, but mostly quilts. It is desirable because:

1. It can stretch nicely around curves.

2. The edge is durable since it is made of criss-crossing threads.

Rebecca Górzyńska
1/2″ double fold bias tape around potholders. See the curves? So voluptuous!

Bindings cut straight (horizontally or vertically), although more economical of time and fabric, can’t stretch around curves, and are inherently weaker because there is only one poor long thread exposed to all the wear and tear of life on the edge. I (lazily and stupidly, because I had been strongly advised against it by a quilt-shop oracle) bound one of my first quilts with straight-cut binding, and lo and behold, five years later that poor thread has given up the ghost and the whole edge of the binding has split.

The moral of this story is: listen to the quilt-shop oracles, and always use bias tape. It’s useful. You should make some.

TUTORIAL TIME! YAY!

I use two widths of bias tape: 1″ for quilts, and 1/2″ for smaller things. Usually I go ahead and make 1″ tape, since I can always cut it in half and iron it into 1/2″ tape later. This tape, however, is intended for a smaller project, so I made 1/2″ tape.

Width of cut strip = 4 x finished visible width

To make 1″ tape, our strips should be cut 4″ wide, and to make 1/2″ tape, our strips should be cut 2″ wide.

Rebecca Górzyńska

1. Tools: Cutting mat, quilting ruler, rotary cutter, and fabric.

Rebecca Górzyńska

2. Line up your ruler at the edge of the fabric. Cut a piece off the corner at 45°.

Rebecca Górzyńska

Lovely. Put that thing in the scrap bag.

Rebecca Górzyńska

3. THIS IS THE FIRST STRIP. Line up the ruler at 45º again, but this time also make sure the width is 2″ (for 1″ bias tape, cut 4″ wide). Cut.

Rebecca Górzyńska

4. Cut some more strips. You don’t have to line up the ruler at 45º every time, but check it occasionally.

Rebecca Górzyńska

All cut! Now, as you can see, the ends are all raggedy. For the strips to match up nicely for piecing, every end must be cut at a 45º angle. So that’s what we’ll do next.

Rebecca Górzyńska

5. Cut every end at a 45º angle. If the end is already perfect, good for it.

Rebecca Górzyńska

Rebecca Górzyńska

All the perfect parallelograms (or in some cases trapezoids, but whatever).

Rebecca Górzyńska

6. Match up the first two trapellelozoidograms like so.

Rebecca Górzyńska

7. Flip one down and pin, right sides together, like so.

Rebecca Górzyńska

8. Open it up and match up the next trapellelo. . . geometry shape.

Rebecca Górzyńska

9. Flip it up and pin, right sides together. Continue in this manner until all strips are pinned.

Rebecca Górzyńska

10. Take the pile over to the sewing machine and sew from A to B. DON’T cut the thread.

Rebecca Górzyńska

11. Immediately feed the next strip through, and the next, etc.

Rebecca Górzyńska

When you’re done you’ll have a loopy monster like this and no wasted thread. Cut the threads connecting them and head over to the ironing board.

Rebecca Górzyńska

12. Iron seams open.

Rebecca Górzyńska

13. Fold tape in half, press. You can cut off the sticky-out triangles if you want, but I am lazy so I don’t.

Rebecca Górzyńska

Pile of tape gathering on the floor.

Rebecca Górzyńska

14a. When the whole tape is pressed in half, open it up, one ironing board’s length at a time.

Rebecca Górzyńska

14b. Fold the top edge to the center and press.

Rebecca Górzyńska

14c. Fold the bottom edge to the center, and press.

Rebecca Górzyńska

14d. Fold both edges together, and press. One side may be slightly wider than the other. This is a good thing.

Rebecca Górzyńska

14e. Wrap completed section of bias tape around a Christmas card. Repeat steps 14a-e until all tape is done.

Rebecca Górzyńska

15. Go eat some deviled eggs.

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