Thursday, June 23, 2011

DIY: How to Machine Sew Bias Tape

When I made my 4th of July Table Runner, I searched for a good tutorial for how to use my sewing machine to bind the edges using bias tape and leaving the edges square, but I really didn't come across a tutorial that covered it all, and I had to piece the information together from multiple sources and modify it to fit my project. Here's what I figured out:

Before applying your bias tape, cut away any extra seam allowances, thread, or jagged edges you may have.  You need a nice smooth edge to start.  I used my Gingher Rotary Cutter, cutting mat and ruler to get a  nice straight, clean edge.  I love Gingher products!  I would not have even attempted this project without my rotary cutter.  It's like a pizza cutter on steroids!
Make sure the raw edge of your project is neat and straight.
Take your bias tape out of the package and decide which side is wider, One side of your tape will be just barely wider than the other. The wider side of the tape will fold over onto the back or "wrong" side of your project. In my case, my table runner is reversible, so there is no wrong side. I decided to pin to the lighter side of my fabric, so if I sewed over the edge of the bias tape and into the table runner on the opposite darker side, the red thread would blend in with all the crazy patriotic material on the underside. If your project is not square, you should start with the longer sides first.
I used 1/2" Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape.

With your bias tape unfolded, pin it with the narrower side facing your edge on the "right" side of your fabric.  Align the bias tape up with the very edge of your fabric. Leave about 1/2" of bias tape hanging over the end of the fabric. You will fold this in to create the squared off corner. Pin the bias tape to your fabric on second fold from the edge.  With the bias tape still unfolded, you will sew a seam straight down the first fold. This seam will not be visible on your final project.
Your bias tape will fold itself back up after you pin it, so you will need to use your hands to open it up as you feed it through your sewing machine.
This is what your folded in corner should;d look like before you sew.
Now, wrap your bias tape around the edge of your fabric.  Fold the 1/2 inch of bias tape that you left hanging over the edge of the fabric at each end in, so it looks like the photo above.  Iron or pin the folded corners as needed to hold them in place so you can sew them.  You may still be able to see your a tiny bit of your fabric in the edge of the fold. That is okay, because the bias tape going on the short side will cover it.  
Start at your folded corner and stitch through all layers of your project
(front of bias tape, project material, back of bias tape).
Now, sewing on the same side of your material as you already stitched the bias tape to and starting at your folded corner, sew the binding within an 1/8th of an inch or less of its open edge. Be sure to add a few reverse stitches to secure the edge of your bias tape at the corner, then sew all the way to the other end of you fabric using a straight stitch.  Finish with a few reverse, then a few forward stitches. Stay as close to the edge of the bias tape as you can without sewing over onto your fabric. As you feed your project through the machine, use your hands to keep the bias tape smoothly wrapped over the edge of your unfinished material.  The bias tape has to stay snug against your unfinished edge in order for you to catch the underside of the tape, Remember, that the bias tape on the other side of your material is just slightly wider than the side you are sewing on but just barely, so you really need to stay close to the edge of your bias tape when sewing.  
Use your hand to make sure the bias tape is right against the edge of your unfinished edge on  both the top and bottom and feeding through the machine smoothly.
*If you discover after you have sewn on your bias tape that you have missed a spot on the opposite side of your bias tape. You can flip your material over and sew second seam up the bias tape on the "wrong" side. Do not sew closer than 1/16 of an inch from the inner edge of the bias tape. Repeat this procedure on your other long side (or if you have a square, the side parallel to one you just completed.) Then you can work on your shorter sides.  Your shorter sides will be done the same as your longer sides.
Neatly, fold your short side corners in and press or pin to hold them in place before sewing.  This will be your exposed corner and you should not have any fabric showing at the corner at this point. 
This is what your completed square-off bias tape corner will will look when you are done.

I'm Linking to:
Somewhat Simple


  1. Thank you! I've never sewn with bias tape... mostly because I'm scared to. Maybe I'll give it a shot, with this tutorial open beside me!

  2. Darn, now I find you, after I clumsily tried to apply some myself last night to my mug rug! I will be making more, and I will use your method now. Thank you so much, I could not find a good tutorial for this anywhere either!


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