Sewing tip: Bias tape maker

Bias tape has been on my mind for the past two weeks or so. Perhaps not so strange since I made a top with bias tape facing and wrote a tutorial on how to fit bias tape in an armhole or neckline. So, I thought I might as well turn this into some sort of mini-series by giving a sewing tip for using bias tape makers:

“A fabric strip with the end cut at an angle will feed much more smoothly through a bias tape maker than a fabric strip with a straight end”

make your own bias tape

Cut the end of the fabric strip at an angle.

When you think about it, this is not all that surprising, but seriously, this tip can save you lots of frustration! The small tip of the fabric strip won’t meet much resistance inside the bias tape maker, and once the tip peeps out of the front, it is really easy to pull the rest of the strip through. No more fussing around with a pin trying to pull the fabric through.

When the tip of the strip comes out of the front you can easily pull the rest of the strip through.

For those of you that are not familiar with bias tape makers I’ll also show you in more detail how to use them.  A bias tape maker is, as the name suggests, used to make bias tape. I think they’re nifty devices that are a very useful addition to your sewing room. They’re not very expensive and come in (at least) 5 different sizes, 6 mm (1/4’’), 12 mm (1/2’’), 18 mm (3/4’’), 25 mm (1’’) and 50 mm (2’’). I own the 4 largest ones. Making your own bias tape has several advantages. You are not limited by the colours of store bought bias tape. You can use much nicer fabrics for your bias tape (store bought tape is usually very stiff) and you can make your garment look really unique by using a special print.

bias tape makers

My bias tape makers, don’t they look pretty all lined up?

The instruction leaflet that comes with the bias tape maker will tell you what size to cut the fabric strip but roughly this will be more or less twice the width of the finished width of the bias tape. For the really small bias tape makers it will be a little bit more, for the larger ones a little bit less. For the following pictures I used the 25 mm bias tape maker and cut my fabric strip just under 50 mm wide. The fabric strip is usually cut on the bias (45 degree angle to the grain line of the fabric). This gives the fabric a little bit of stretch and makes it easier to fit around curves. If you are going to use the tape to bind something that doesn’t have any curves it is totally ok though to use a strip of fabric that is cut on the straight of grain.

back of bias tape maker

The back of the bias tape maker is U-shaped. This is where the fabric goes in.

bias tape maker6

When the fabric comes out of the front of the bias tape maker the edges are folded in.

bias tape maker7

An iron is used to press the bias tape as it comes out of the bias tape maker. You can pull on the metal handle to pull more fabric through.

That was easy wasn’t it? I hope I have convinced you that making your own bias tape is totally worth it!

September 14, 2013

Emmely Treffers

About Emmely

I am a sewing enthusiast from the Netherlands. I live in the Leiden area with my husband and two daughters and I am currently working as a senior researcher in molecular virology. With my quilting patterns and sewing blog I want to infect as many people as possible with my love for sewing.

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  1. Ellen

    I love seeing your bias tape all lined up and ready for duty! I have a similar collection, and choosing to make your own customized bias tape definitely makes your projects special!

    • Emmely

      Thank you! I have a decent stash of store bought tape that I either inherited from my grandmother or bought in my early sewing years but nowadays I find that I hardly every use it. Taking the extra time to make my own is completely worth it.

  2. Irene

    You’ve convinced me! Can you tell me where you got your bias tape maker army? Or what the brand name is? Thank you.

    • Emmely

      I bought my bias tape maker in sewing shops in the Netherlands so I don’t know whether that store specific information will be useful to you. I own two different brands, Prym and Clover, and I don’t think there is really much of a difference between them.


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