8 Reasons to Make Your Own Bias Tape

(I get so many questions about bias tape… how do I make it, how do I get such a smooth finish etc. etc., so I thought it was LONG PAST time that I did a series devoted to bias-taping so…here’s the 1st in a three-post mini-series.)

I can’t remember the last time I used store-bought bias tape and you’d probably be surprised at the amount of mail inquiring as to where I get various bias tapes I use. But here’s the deal… I actually make my own bias tape and have for many years now. That’s right, even when I use plain ol’ black bias tape… even then I STILL make my own! Yeah I know there’s more than a few skeptics out there who are shaking their heads right about now, but hang with me while I give you,

Eight great reasons to make your own bias tape!

smCWP31. So it will totally match your project— Nothing is much worse than being almost done with a project and then having to finish off the edges with bias tape that at best is dull, boring and unimaginative. Let’s face it, commercial bias tape only comes in a dozen or so colors and the odds of finding prepackaged bias tape that would match this purse insert at left is well… slim to none to be exact! And it literally gives me shivers to think of how bad this Porta-PocketsPLUS purse insert would have looked with black, purple or God forbid, beige bias tape! YUCK!

2.  It’s stretchier and more flexible!—  I don’t know what kind of fabric is used to make commercial bias tape, but it is by nature much stiffer and ‘thicker’ than the bias tape I make myself from quilter’s cotton. Which brings me to reason #3 and #4.

poll2901-286x430[1]3.  It’s less bulky in the corners and seam areas—  It may not seem significant to you, but the additional thickness or heft in commercial bias tape can really add bulkiness and difficulty during the application process. After all, the process of bias-taping your seams actually adds FOUR extra layers to sew thru!

4.  It MUCH easier to achieve a smooth, ‘waveless’ finish— The bias tape I make for myself is stretchier and easier to control, so the odds of me achieving a smooth, flawless look are much greater than with commercial bias tape.

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5.  I can make it the EXACT width I need
—  Just in case you didn’t know it, bias tape can be TOO WIDE. That’s right, if your bias tape is too wide, it’s automatically going to be more prone to lumps and waviness during the application process & since commercial bias tape is really only available in a couple of widths, this is a significant problem. Yeah… you can reduce the width if you want, but that pretty much means ironing out the original folds, cutting away the excess and then re-pressing the folds in place, which probably explains why most folks just opt to leave the excess width in place and end up with an inferior finished look.  🙁

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6.  It’s less expensive—  Unless your bias taping a huge project (like a queen-size quilt), you really don’t need 3 yards of bias tape. It’s a little cheaper to just make your own.

7.  It can really make your project POP!— I find that most people just think of bias tape as something that will blend in or ‘disappear’ into their project’s final look. But why not think of bias tape as a way of defining, completing, or at least making your project even CUTER?  Would this bag at right have been anywhere near as compelling without the polka-dotted bias tape?

8.  It makes a GREAT gift!—  Got some sewing buddies? I’m willing to bet that they might just FLIP over receiving a few yards of some FUN bias tape trim! (Think about black & white stripe or polka dot as being neutral… which it pretty much is!) Imagine their delight when they open their gift and find a FUN assortment of black & white prints, stripes or polkadots to ‘play’ with!

Not sure how to get started?

Just stay tuned for our next post in this mini-series, when we’ll demonstrate for you (with color pictures) just how easy it is to create your own bias tape trim!

And now… it’s YOUR turn!

Which type of bias tape do YOU use? Do you generally make your own, or do you purchase it commercially? I would love for you to share your preference as well as the reasoning behind your choice!

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24 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. ALWAYS use my own bias tape, and hate the inferior quality of bought tape. I am looking forward very much to your tips on making and applying it, as I think they will be very useful. You are definitely more skilful than I am. I particularly like using striped fabric, and cut at a bias angle it looks smart. I always keep a stash of stripes in, just for this purpose.

  2. On my quilts, I never use bias tape, I cut my own straight tape. I, too, make some pocketbooks, and for those I have to use bias, and I then cut my own tape. I agree with you about the stiffness in the commercial type and the color selection is ho-hum. Merry Christmas,

  3. Totally agree. Purchased bias tape is, to put it nicely, tacky. Suitable only for a quickie pot holder, certainly not a bag, wall hanging, or anything you want to be proud of. I always make my own, for all of the reasons you stated. Looking forward to the rest of this series! You are my hero!

    • Thanks Pattie- You made me smile this morning… even before I’ve had my requisite amount of caffiene! HeeHee! Stay tuned for more soon!

  4. I agree, I make my own bias tape. Always the right match, and never the wrong size. Purchased bias can scream homemade.

  5. In an earlier post you gave a quick tutorial on making your own bias tape – I thought I save it and now can’t find it. Could you repost it again sometime? Thank you.
    Lois

  6. Having been a quilter for nearly 40 years, I have made my own bias tape for nearly that long. Very early on I bought little metal devices that you run the fabric through and iron as it comes out the other side. Now, though I do a folded bias tape that doesn’t require the metal devices. I cut the bias strips the desired width and iron them in half. Works quite well, at least for quilts.

  7. I always make my own tape, whether it’s bias or straight. Store bought bias tape is usually a blend and my husband RUINED some beautiful hot pads that had been given to me by putting something from the grill down on them and it melted the bias tape right to the metal. That wouldn’t have happened with cotton tape. I always finish my tape by hand, too, as I find it lays down and performs much nicer than if it’s sewn down by machine the 2nd time.

    • I never before knew what commercial bias tape was made of, so thanks for this.
      I always go for a machine finish on the bias tape, mainly because I despise hand-sewing and do as little of it as possible. But in a future post, I’ll show you the trick to do this WITHOUT ripples and bumps. It’s easy! 🙂

      • While I would hate ripples and bumps, that’s not what stops me from finishing it off with the machine. It’s the stiffness that the machine sewing gives it, I like the binding to be more fluid and flexible.

        However, that said, I’ll be interested in your tips because I do need some new potholders, LOL!

  8. I much prefer making my own tape for al the reasons mentioned befor, it always looks and works so much better.

  9. I am fascinated by this topic as I am one of those scared to death to “cut” bias tape. I will be watching this with great interest. Thank you!

  10. I have avoided bias tape like a plague because all the experience I had was with store bought and it never turned out right. It is stiff, hard to work with and on top of it all, looks nothing like the fabric used in the project.
    Then – in the same way I found your patterns – I found a tutorial on Pinterest. Boy what a difference hand made makes. Now I rather enjoy using it.

    • You are SO right about this. I would never use bias tape if I had to use the junk sold in stores! 🙂
      Thanks for commenting Fran!

  11. I, too, make my own. 99.9% of my bindings are bias. I just like the look. Also they last much longer. With use, a straight of grain binding can eventually ‘break’ along the edge as there is a single thread on that fold as opposed to many with a bias fold. For the last 20 years, most of my bindings go on the donation quilts I make so most are baby and kid size. Stripes make the best binding! Always looking for new ones. They add a ‘fun’ to the look to any bindings. I usually cut a 45” square into binding. I keep what isn’t needed and will combine different ones for some quilts to use them up.

  12. I have NEVER bought store bias tape it felt so taking–the fabric was still & ugly some times though I make some straight but you are right–the bias goes on smooth–I am also one of those that sews it on with machine from the front & then hand sews the folded area to the back, I like doing it cause I know I am DONE. I even have some of the metal things–but I have never used them–just easier to cut & fold & press.
    Now to go find how to change my email addy on your site.

  13. I have always made my own bias and straight tape, that way it matches or compliments my project whether it’s a quilt , wall hanging or potholders.

  14. I too have been afraid to make my own and don’t know how to start! Looking forward to this series very eagerly!!

  15. I like to make continuous bias tape, marking a fabric square, then sewing into an off-parallel tube, and cutting the whole strip into one long piece. Remnants (and dismembered mens ties) make surprisingly long strips for small projects. Necktie fabric is quite stiff, but it’s already biased. (I have a Simplicity bias maker that motors fabric through and presses it. Saves my fingerprints in case I get arrested for fabric hoarding…)

  16. I used the ready made bias tape back when I was a new sewer and didn’t know how to make my own. Now I only make my own for all the reasons everyone else does! but I admit that I feel a bit tense trying to get it sewed on smoothly. Therefore, I’ll be eager to see your next issue on applying bias tape. I thought about doing the second stitching by hand on the last item I was making, but thought maybe I shouldn’t. But now since others have said they sew it by hand, I might try it the next time I’m doing bias. And I absolutely love Karol’s suggestions to use striped bias for baby quilts and save the extra to combine with other stripes another time!