ChloeScrap Busting, Sewing Tutorials23 Comments

Making Bias Tape

It’s time for a confession- I used to find making bias tape terrifying. I thought it intimidating and difficult to master. Once you break it down into steps, though, it’s actually pretty simple! Learning how to make bias tape releases you from the bonds of the stiff, store-bought stuff and opens the door to so many wonderful bias tape possibilities.

In this tutorial, we will be teaching how to make three different types of 1/2″ wide bias tape: 1/2″ wide double fold tape, 1/2″ wide single fold tape, and our favourite, 1/2″ wide “thirds” tape.

You’ll need shears or a rotary cutter, a quilting ruler, an iron, and, optionally, these little bias tape makers.

The very first step is cutting the strips that will eventually become your tape. Bias tape needs to be cut on a 45-degree angle (the bias), so that your tape has the flexibility and stretch to go nicely around curved edges. The easiest way to ensure you are cutting on a 45-degree angle is to use a quilting ruler with a 45-degree line. Line up the 45-degree line with the selvedge edge of your fabric, and cut along the edge of the ruler to create a perfect 45-degree cut.

For 1/2″ wide double fold tape, cut strips 1 7/8″ wide. Find the 1 7/8″ marking on your ruler, and make sure it is aligned with the new diagonal edge of your fabric from top to bottom before cutting your strips.

For 1/2″ wide single fold strips, follow the same procedure, only using the 1″ mark on your ruler to cut 1″ strips.

For “thirds” tape, follow the same procedure, using the 1.25″ mark to cut 1.25″ strips.

Here is a handy chart to help you know what size strips to cut:

We want our tape to be continuous, so we will sew all of the strips together to create one long strip.

First, cut off the diagonal edges of the strips.

Then, line up the two strips perpendicular to one another, right sides facing, with the flat, short edge of one strip lined up with the long edge of the second strip as pictured below.

Place two of the strips at 90-degree angles with the right sides together, lining up the edges. Sew diagonally across the corners. Repeat to join all the strips. Trim the seams down to a 1/4″ and press them open.

Now we make the tape! The 1/2″ wide double fold and single fold tape we’re making in this tutorial use bias tape makers- the “thirds” bias tape doesn’t require this tool.

You can also make single and double fold tape without a bias tape maker by simply folding and pressing it by hand. Be extra cautious not to put your fingers too close to your iron!

For the double fold bias tape, we’re using a 25mm bias tape maker. Guide the short edge of your fabric into the wide end of the bias tape maker. Cutting the end into a point may help you guide it through.

A handy way to anchor the end of your tape piece is to pin it to your ironing board. That way, you can use both hands to press the tape.

Gently pull the tape maker down the length of the tape strip, pressing the folds flat as you go along. The tip of the iron is really useful here.

If you are making tape without one of these doo-hickys, you can fold each edge of the strip in towards the center. I like to fold one side and then the other, as it can be challenging to do both at once.

Once you have used the bias tape maker to make the first folds, fold the tape in half (with the raw edges enclosed) and press. Voila! Double fold tape!

Single Fold Tape

The process for making the 1/2″ wide single fold tape is very similar. For the single fold tape, we used a 12mm bias tape maker.

As with the double fold tape, pin the end of your tape to the ironing board, and guide the bias tape maker down the strip of tape, pressing the folds with your iron as you go.

If you are doing this without a tape maker, you fold the edges in towards the middle. Be very careful not to burn your fingers- this can be finicky on such a narrow strip of fabric.

Since this is single fold tape, once you’ve completed these steps, your tape is finished.

“Thirds” Tape

Now, the last kind of tape we are making is specifically for bias facings. It is a variation on single fold tape. We really like this “thirds” option. It doesn’t take much time to make, and it makes an excellent bias facing for a top or York Pinafore.

To make “thirds” tape, we will be folding our strip, well, into thirds. Take one third of your tape strip and fold it over the middle third.

Press with your iron.

Next, fold the remaining third of your strip over the first third, and press.

That’s it! This tape is great for finishing the neckline of a woven tank top or t-shirt, the edges of the York Pinafore or York Apron, or any other pattern that has you using bias facing.

Now, you have cute, 1/2″ bias tape that works just as well as the kind you would buy in a store. You can use these techniques to make bias tape at any size, so you can always have one-of-a-kind tape for your next project- AND it’s a great scrap-buster!

Our next post will explain how to finish edges with a bias facing. Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions, or if you have any special tips or tricks for making bias tape!

Happy Sewing!

About the author


Hi, I'm Chloe, the Creative Assistant at Helen's Closet! I'm a Vancouver transplant from San Francisco. I love sewing, the outdoors, and RuPaul's Drag Race.

23 Comments on “Making Bias Tape”

  1. This is great – thank you! I’m curious if quilting cotton is the best option for bias tape and if there’s anything else that would work well?

    1. You can use any foldable fabric to make bias tape. I make bias tape from all the leftovers of my sewing projects, I use the lining bias tape to clean finish the interior seams of jackets and skirts. I use silk shantung to make sleeve headers. Cotton lawn (like the LIberty stuff) is amazing on the interior seams of shirts. As long as the fabric is the right weight and has enough stability to not wear through before the rest of the seam does, it’s good.

      1. That’s such a good point. Making bias tape is a great way to use up your leftover fabric, and I love that you can use it to sneakily add a fun print to the inside of your garment.

  2. ErnieK3 is correct- as long as the fabric is the right weight and has enough stability, you can get creative with your fabric choice. Some fabrics (like rayon) are a little more slippery and difficult to work with, but it is definitely possible.

  3. I bought the little bias tape makers off amazon a few months ago, but had no instructions so I tried it once and tossed them in a drawer. Thank you for this info. I guess what I found confusing was the bias tape makers are marked with sizes that don’t correspond to anything. Is there a formula to figure out what width of fabric goes in which size tape-maker to produce which size of bias tape? It’s not intuitive at all! Thanks!

    1. That is confusing! I just have the two sizes that I use regularly so I am now familiar with the results. That chart in the post should help though!

  4. Hi Chloe,

    Very clear, thank you. Can you explain why you prefer thirds to single-fold bias tape for facings? Thank you. I have bias ttape–makers and it seems more effort to do this!

    1. Hi Tracy,

      I like the thirds bias tape because I find it is easier to use than single fold because with single fold, you have these tiny little folds of fabric to sew and handle. With thirds, you have more to work with.

  5. This is what I have been looking for,tomake neat edging to the ‘fraying fabrics’ I use for long coats and vests.
    Yours Brian. H

    1. Hi Brian, We’re happy to hear this post was helpful for you. We look forward to seeing your future makes!

  6. Hello, I have bought a bias kit, to use on a pair of(1800) pants, to cover overlooking on pocket reinforced edges plus exposed seams. I also think 3 fold is best workable type around.

  7. This is so helpful, thank you! Any tips on making bias tape out of fabric that doesn’t have a clear salvage, like fabric scraps or thrifted fabric?

    1. Hi Natalie,

      I like to try to find the grain by holding the fabric up to the light. If that is not helpful, try pulling on the piece and seeing which direction stretches the most. That is going to be the angle you want to cut the bias strips on.

  8. I’m making a York pinafore out of a medium weight linen. Would you advise against using the same fabric for the bias tape? Is linen too fray-ey?

  9. I’m making an Ashton Top and am really confounded by the “thirds” tape option prescribed in it. Can you explain how it encloses its own raw edge…? Every time I try to follow the instructions, there is a raw edge still exposed. Thanks!

  10. Thank the heavens! This was the first time I made perfect as perfect gets bias tape! My future projects thank you!

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