How to Make Bias Tape (and Non-Bias Tape)

Pre-made bias tape is definitely convenient, but custom bias tape is so much more cute! 

I've been using it lately to simultaneously bind the edges of an apron and then continue it up to use as the ties around the neck. Kind of like on this cute apron:
(you can purchase the pattern for this cool apron from recycled jeans in my Etsy shop!)

But back to the bias tape. It's easier than you might imagine and you don't need one of those fancy Bias Tape Machines to do it (although I wouldn't object to any one giving me one of these. I'm sure it would come in handy if you needed a lot of bias tape on an ongoing basis).



Step 1: Bias or Non-Bias?
Before you do anything, you need to decide if you want bias or non-bias tape. 

I personally use non-bias tape most of the time because it's the easiest and suits my purposes well.

What's the difference?
  • Bias Tape is cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric. This allows it to give and stretch just a tad. This makes it especially well suited for sewing on any kind of a curve because it will give just enough to make a smooth edge around non-straight edges.
  • Non-Bias Tape is a strip of fabric that hasn't been cut on the bias. These are frequently from strips of fabric cut with the grain. Non-bias tape is most well suited for straight edges like the hem of a non-curved item or a blanket binding.
Not sure what the end use of your tape will be yet? 

When in doubt, go with the bias tape because it is more versatile. 

Bias tape is great for both straight and curved applications. Non-Bias tape only works on straight edges.

Step 2: Cut Your Fabric
Use your straight edge, rotary cutter and mat to cut your fabric into strips.

If you are making bias tape: You will need to cut your strips of fabric at a 45 degree angle to the grain (AKA the bias). 

Sew Fantastic already has a great tutorial for how to cut strips on the bias, so just go visit her and come back after you have cut and joined your strips ok? 

Be sure to check out the width chart below to know what size to make your strips. 

If you are making non-bias tape: Cut strips of fabric perpendicular to the selvage edge of your fabric in a width that corresponds to the width of bias tape you'd like to end up with.
The bias tape most sewists are familiar with is double-fold bias tape for trimming edges. 

Single fold bias tape can be used as a pretty trim (think stripes) on the outside of a garment or as a casing for elastic, the inside of a neckline and to help hem a skirt. 

If you don't already have a particular project in mind, you can always make single fold bias tape and come back and double-fold it later.

Step 3: Spray Starch & Iron
I like to use spray starch because it helps the tape hold its fold and makes nice crisp edges. 

The aerosol stuff in a can is bad for your lungs and the planet, so do yourself a favor and pick up a healthier alternative like this Non-Aerosol Spray Starch from Earth Friendly Products.
Lightly spray the strips you're using and give it about 60 seconds to soak in before using your iron to smooth any wrinkles out of your strips before starting step 4.

Step 4: First Fold (AKA the fun part)
The bias tape head sizes assume you are making single fold tape. Don't get hung up on the labeled size - just get the head that is half the width of the fabric you cut. 

I am making 1/2 inch double-fold tape, so I have 2 inches of fabric. Therefore, I grab the 1 inch bias tape head.

Start to feed the strip into the folding head like so:

To get it all the way through, you may need a little help from your straight pin.

Keep pulling it through til it looks like this:

Pull out about 4 inches and press.

Pick up your iron and use the pin to anchor the end of your bias tape to the ironing board. 

Continue pulling the head with one hand and following with your iron in another. 

You may need to gently tug against the resistance of the pin to get the fold to stay properly until ironed. 

The view from the right side of the iron as you work:

Your view from the left side:

Continue down the full length of your strip. 

Ta da! You've made single fold bias tape:
If you wanted single fold bias tape, stop here. If you wanted double fold tape, move on to step 5.

Step 5: Second Fold
Now that you have single fold tape, all you need to do is fold your tape in half and follow behind with the iron to get double fold tape.

Once that round of ironing is complete, you will have double-fold tape that you can wrap up and save for later or use on your project!

Need a project to use your bias tape on? I have a fun apron sewing pattern made from recycled jeans in my Etsy shop that uses non-bias tape for the trim!


  1. I have some of these little bias tape heads too! I absolutely love them. I don't know that I'll ever use all the tape I've made but like most my crafting supplies, it sure makes me feel better knowing I have it!lol

  2. Thank-you for this tutorial! I love that you can make it more coordinated to whatever project your making.
    Can't wait for your tutorial on that adorable apron!
    I have TONS of old jeans laying around that I promised Hubby I'd do something with. This project looks like the perfect solution!

  3. I'm just starting to explore different spray starch options and will be looking at this. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. The opening of the tutorial says i don't need a bias tape machine, but I don't make tape enough to buy the heads. What else can I do?

    1. You could also cut the strips and fold them in half and iron them. Then fold the edges into the center and iron again.

      I personally find this incredibly tedious and found that investing a few dollars in heads to be worthwhile for the sake of the time it saved me.

      If you don't need them often maybe a friend who sews has them for you to borrow?


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