Chances are good that even if you haven't been sewing for very long, you still have a package or two of bias tape kicking around your home. It's a handy thing to have around: I've used mine for crafts, wrapping gifts, and in-a-pinch shoe laces. But what is bias tape really for?
Bias tape consists of woven fabric cut on the bias (or at a 45 degree angle) sewn together to form a long continuous strip. The raw edges are generally pressed down for a small seam allowance on each side, and then it is often pressed again in the middle to form "double fold" bias tape. When cutting woven fabric on the bias, you achieve a nice stretch, so that attaching it to curvy seams and edges creates a smooth finish. It's typically used as flat piping (or to cover corded piping), as a finish for interior seams, to create a finished hem, or as an arm or neck hole facing. Quilters often make their own to finish the edge of quilts-- though, I prefer to do a straight grain cut for quilt binding.
Here at Bolt, we have made the transition from packaged bias tape to selling it by the yard. You can now purchase it in flexible amounts and it saves on packaging It used to be far more common to see packaged binding in a myriad of patterns and not only solid colours. Thankfully, manufacturers are moving back towards patterns! Of course, if we don't have exactly what you're looking for, it's easy-peasy to make your own. Clover makes a number of bias tape tools to help you get the exact seam allowance and to save your fingers from the hot iron.
Here's a whole list of online tutorials to get you started making and using bias tape:
- How to Make Bias Tape by one of our favourite local designers. The Colette blog also has some great tutorials on binding seams, and creating flat piping for the Ginger skirt. Heck, just search for "bias tape" on the blog and you'll quickly learn how to add a little Rouleau to your next garment.
- The No Swearing Bias Tape Method by Miss Chicken. Amy also details creating continuous bias tape in her first book, Bend the Rules Sewing (a great project-based how-to book for folks getting their sewing start).
- Karen creates beautiful interior seams for those of us with texture sensitivities or the desire to make heirloom quality clothing.
And a few posts where we profess our love for binding:
Anna Maria Horner introduced patterned bias tape by the yard at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City. We put in an order for some and we'll let you know when it comes!