Man I love me some bias tape. It has to be one of the most useful notions in our arsenal as sewists.
That’s why I’m showing you how to use bias tape today! Bias tape is one of the first things that I learned how to make when I was a beginner sewist, and it has paid off in spades.
There’s so many things you can do with bias tape! My goal today is to show you some of the most common ways to use bias tape in your sewing projects. I’ll show you how to finish armholes with bias tape, how to use bias tape on a neckline and also how to make a bias tape hem. To finish up, I’ll show you some of the other things you can do with bias tape.
Grab a ruler with a 45 degree angle and let’s get into the bias.
The best bias
Before we get into how to use bias tape, where do you get good bias tape.
The best bias tape is the stuff you make yourself!
Why should you skip packaged bias tape?
- limited colors
- no prints! Literally where’s my zebra print tape?!
- It’s typically 50% polyester/50% cotton, a cardboardy feeling blend that’s not so nice
- Weight: in addition to being cardboardy, packaged tape is too heavy to use on many lightweight cottons.
Making your own bias is an easy process. Be sure to check out 3 easy ways to make bias tape. To do any of the following tutorials, first make yourself up some tape. You’ll be able to make a bunch with some fabric leftovers. After you’ve got your new, fun printed tape, you’re reading to take on one of these uses.
How to make bias tape 3 easy ways
Because printed bias tape is more better.
For all of these mini-tutorials, I’ll be using 1″ wide strips of bias. Once you have your strips, press up 3/8″ on one long edge of the tape.
How to finish armholes with bias tape as a facing
Summer is coming which means breezy woven sleeveless tops. But those armholes don’t finish themselves. Here’s how to use bias tape as a narrow facing on armholes.
Prep the tape and your garment
To start, you’ll need to sew the shoulder seam on your top or dress. You can then sew the side seams, though I prefer to sew the tape flat. It’ll help you press the tape a little more easily, and it will be easier to handle on the curve.
Sit the armhole flat on your ironing board. Form the tape into a curve that’s the same shape as the armhole. I line up the edges, though I’m showing it off the garment so it’s easier to see. Press lightly with steam to help the bias mold into that curved shape. Let the tape cool and dry before you move it.
Stitch the tape to the armhole
Next, match the unpressed edge of the bias to the armhole right sides together. Let a little bit of tape hang off either edge. We’ll trim it off later.
Stitch the tape all around the neckline with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Do your best to follow the curve. There’s a pretty extreme curve happening at the base of armholes. If you’re having a hard time sewing bias tape on a curve, you can mark a 1/4″ stitching line with a marker. Sometimes those visual lines help us!
Trim down the seam allowance to a little less than 1/4″. Trimming it this way means that it’ll flip to the inside smoothly without having to notch the curves. Press the seam allowance towards the tape.
If you haven’t already, sew the side seams. First fold the edges of the tape right sides together. Then sew the seam allowance. When you get to the bottom edge of the tape, angle the seam outwards by a tiny bit.
Next fold the pressed edge of the tape entirely to the inside. Press the in place.
How to use bias tape on a neckline: binding on a neckline
Finishing necklines is a big step in any top or dress. For woven fabrics, one of the cleanest ways you can finish the neckline is with bias tape.
This time we’re going to use the bias tape as a binding to finish the neckline. You can also finish the neckline like a narrow facing as you did for the armholes. The difference here is that with binding, you see the tape from both sides. The tape gets wrapped over the seam instead of being flipped to the inside.
First cut a length of bias at least as long as your neckline.
Prepping the tape
After that, form the tape into a curve like you did for the armholes. Press lightly with steam to help the bias tape mold into that curved shape.
Starting at the back neckline match up the unpressed edge of the tape to the right side. Let about 1/2″ of tape hang off the edge.
Stitching the tape to the neckline
Stitch the tape all around the neckline with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Press the seam allowance towards the tape.
Finishing the tape ends
After this, fold the ends of the tape on the back neckline right sides together. Stitch a tiny seam with a small straight stitch.
Trim the edges of the tape 1/4″ past the stitching. Gently work out the corner of the tape with a small pointed tool. I personally use the metal rod from the narrow tube in the Turn-it-All tubes.
Next fold the tape around the neckline. Make sure that the folded edge covers the stitching line.
For the best results, hand baste the folded edge down. It’ll take a second, but it’s way better than pins here!
To finish off the neckline, stitch on the right side of your neckline close to the pressed edge. Tada!
How to use bias tape for hems
Another awesome way to use bias tape is to use the tape for hemming! The natural stretch that’s built into the tape can help sew smooth curved hems. If you have big curves like on a circle skirt, this notion is especially your hemming bestie!
You can sew the tape as a binding or as a facing. For a hem facing, stitch the tape to the bottom of your garment right sides together. Press the seam towards the pressed edge of the tape. After that, flip everything to the inside and stitch the pressed fold of the tape close to the pressed edge.
To use bias as a binding, simply fold the pressed edge over the stitching line only. This way the tape will be visible from the right side and the wrong side. Stitch the pressed edge of the binding to your garment and you’re done!
Other uses for bias strips
So those are some basics, but bias tape is really quite versatile. Other ways you can use bias:
- Piping: bias covers cord to make a fun trim
- Quilt binding: wrap bias binding around the edges for one of the prettiest ways to finish a quilt
- Button loops: add tiny bias loops to finish off a neckline with a button
- Hong Kong finish: use bias strips for a showstopper finish on the inside of an unlined jacket
How about you? What’s your favorite way to use bias?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.