Making your own bias tape from a rectangular piece of fabric

If you sew garments, and dislike facings like I do, you will have made or considered making your own bias binding. When you can't find the material, size, and colour you need, it's certainly handy to know how to make it yourself, whether you make it from the same fabric as your garment, or choose a contrasting option. Bias strips are also very handy if you want to create your own piping.

I'm certainly a fan of contrasting bias binding or piping. If you choose a patterned fabric for your bias binding or piping, the insides of your garment hold a nice little surprise for the wearer!

I've tried various ways to make my own binding. There are hundreds of tutorials covering the continuous method online, but the ones I have seen instruct you to use a square of fabric. As I like to use fat quarters or offcuts of fabric to make binding, I didn't like the scraps I'd end up with after cutting my piece into a square. There isn't much you can do with those!

After experimenting with a rectangular piece of paper and doing some research online, I came across a way of making bias binding from a rectangular piece of fabric. Best of all, depending on how wide your bias strips are, you end up with little to no waste!

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Making the continuous bias strip

Rocky Mountain Sewing have a great, in-depth article about making bias binding, and cover how you can use a fabric rectangle instead of a square. Here's how I've tweaked their method–let me demonstrate using a sheet of paper.

1 | Place the long edges of your rectangle of fabric horizontally in front of you.

2 |  Draw a 45 degree angle from the top left corner down to the bottom line. (On your fabric you'll be using a fabric marker of your choice, of course, not a Biro like I am here.) This line marks the bias of your fabric.

3 | Cut along this bias line–you'll now have a triangle, which you will move over to the right edge of the other piece, creating a parallelogram. Sew these two pieces together. 

4 | You can now mark guidelines parallel to your bias line. The width of each section should be the desired width of your bias strip. If you'll be making bias binding from the strip, remember that this should be twice the width of the finished bias binding, as the strips will be folded and ironed! Depending on the size of your parallelogram, you might end up with a section at the end that isn't wide enough. This will be the only waste! Trim that last section off (and save it to make some rouleau loops, perhaps?)

5 | It's time to create a tube of fabric, which can be a little awkward given the shape of the piece. It helps to rotate your parallelogram so that the guidelines you have drawn are horizontal. 

6 | The remaining process is the same as if you had started with a square piece of fabric. Bring in both outer corners to the centre so that your guidelines meet. Aligning your guidelines will be a little trickier if you have started off with a rectangle rather than a square. Before you sew the edges together, remember to offset the guidelines by one section so that you'll end up with a continuous strip later when cutting.  If you are at all unsure about how to do this, check out this tutorial by Professor Pincushion on YouTube.

Note: It looks like I have offset by two sections at the bottom here; but if you look at the top, you'll see that it's been offset by just one section.

After cutting, you should have a long bias strip which you can turn into bias binding or piping!

What to make from the bias strip

To make bias binding, feed your long bias strip through a bias tape maker to create the bias binding folds. I have an amazing hack which makes this process super quick and saves your fingers from nasty burns from your iron--I will demonstrate this in a future post!

To make piping, you'll only need to fold the strip in half to encase your piping cord.

How to estimate the length of the bias strip

If you'd like to calculate how long your bias strip is going to be based on the dimensions of your rectangle of fabric, use the following formula and centimetres as your unit:

Here's an example, using the measurements of a fat quarter:

I hope that you have picked up a new trick or two!
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