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How to make continuous bias tape
Continuous bias tape is what you want to make when you need a lot of bias tape. If you need bias binding for a quilt or want to finish a circle skirt with bias, there’s nothing worse than being 4″ short!
The cool thing about continuous bias is that it’s almost a zero waste technique. If you cut and sew strips together, there can be a significant amount of waste. But with continuous bias, a small amount of fabric + 2 seams can turn into into an insane amount of the tape with zero to just a tiny bit of waste!
Here’s the basic way to make continuous bias tape. This will do the trick 100% when you need a lot of bias. There’s a couple of downsides to this method, which we’ll talk about as we go through it. After that, I’ll show you a way to cut out the downsides and make continuous bias tape even easier.
1. Cut a square
Cut a square from your fabric. It needs to be on grain for the best results. The easiest way to do this is for one of the sides of your square to be the selvage edge. You can either rip the cross grain sides for nice straight cuts, or use your ruler and a rotary cutter.
Whatever you do, cut an even square with perfectly straight sides. The square can be any size.
2. Fold square at a 45 degree angle
Next, fold the fabric down on itself so that the sides match. The resulting fold will be from corner to corner. That’s the hypotenuse of your right triangle for you math kids!
Press the fold well with your iron. Next, cut along the fold you just pressed from corner to corner.
3. Sew the triangles
Flip one of the triangles so it’s on top of the other, right sides together. They’ll look a little bit like dog ears at the bottom. And you’ll notice the tips of the triangles will hang off either edge. That’s okay–that’s what you want.
Sew straight across the top with a 1/4″ seam. Press the seam open.
4. Draw lines
Looking at what you just did, you now have a nice little parallelogram.
Next, flip it to the right side and draw lines the width of the bias that you want to make. I’d say go with 1 1/2″ for a good all-purpose width, but you can measure out any width really. You might notice that one side gets a little weird and uneven. Don’t worry about that.
Draw the lines starting at the bottom edge, and crossing over the seam in the center of your parallelogram.
Draw 2 lines along the edges of the short ends 1/4″ wide.
5. Prepping to sew the 2nd seam
Bring the short ends together. You could just fold them here together right sides together and sew them along that 1/4″ line you just marked, but then you’d end up with bias calamari rings (without the crunchy bits and marinara).
To make tape that comes out in one big long glorious strip, we need to do this weird part.
Looking at the lines, shift one side of the fabric one line to the left. By doing this, we’ll be able to cut that one long strip in a hot minute.
6. Pinning the second seam
I’m not a fan of the pinning (you can see here why I will always encourage you to sew without pins). In this case, pins are going to help. If we sew the seam right along the edge, it’s quite possible that our lines are going to shift and they’ll be crooked right at the second seam. Not so cute.
Instead, we have to match the lines right at the seam allowance. Starting with the second line, bring the fabric right sides together. Stick a pin into the point where the 1/4″ seam allowance meets the angle line. Next, move the same pin through to the intersection point on the other side of the fabric. Without shifting the fabric, put in a cross pin at the edge.
Take out the first pin and use it to match the next group of intersection points. Continue matching points and cross pinning for the whole seam.
To finish off, sew the second seam right along the 1/4″ seam line you marked. Hopefully, when you finish, all the lines will be straight across the seam. Press open the seam.
7. Cut open the strip to reveal your tape
Now for the fun part!
Put your hand on the inside of the tube. Cut along the lines starting at one of the ends. The first time you try this technique, it’ll be a fun surprise to see how this little square turned into a pile of fabric spaghetti awesomeness.
Trim the seams at an angle to reduce bulk later on.
If you do have any weird bits leftover from where the fabric was less wide than the rest, just cut it away.
And on to not making bias without marking up your fabric…
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.