How to Use Bias Tape in Sewing

An Assortment of Bias Tape Packages
Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

Bias tape is a strip of fabric that has been cut on the bias of the fabric. The bias is the 45-degree angle across the weave of the fabric. Fabric cut on the bias is more elastic, which is an essential quality of bias tape. Bias-cut strips of fabric are used to cover raw edges of fabric or to make piping for pillows and many other sewing projects.

Packaged bias tape may be purchased in single fold and double fold forms in various widths. Cutting your own bias tape from fabric is easy to do, especially with rotary cutting tools. Knowing how to use rotary rulers and cutters is the first step to cutting perfect bias strips.

You do not need special equipment to sew bias tape. Mastering sewing straight lines is the first step to achieving great results when you are sewing on bias tape.

Why and Where to Use Bias Tape 

Bias tape can be used to enclose almost any raw edge of the fabric. Many new patterns do not have full facings. They instruct you to use bias tape on the area that would have had a facing in days gone by, to enclose the raw edge of some parts of a garment. This is done with single fold bias tape.

Bias tape is perfect for a decorative finish on a curved edge because the bias will bend and ease around the curve. A straight-grain strip will not curve without kinks and warping. Bias is used in many quilting techniques and sewing projects. It is often used to cover cording to make decorative piping for pillows and other projects. You can use matching or contrasting fabric.

How to Sew Single Fold Bias Tape

Single fold bias tape may be sewn down in the form it came out of the package, using basic sewing machine stitches or a decorative stitch. Sewing straight lines is an important part of sewing bias tape and having a professional finished product.​

To have stitching on just one edge of the single fold bias tape, place the correct side of the bias tape on the correct side of the fabric, open one edge of the tape and stitch in the fold line of the bias tape. Press and turn to have the correct side of the bias tape showing on the correct side of the fabric. Sew the remaining edge of the bias tape down on the fabric.

As a facing, the bias tape is opened and sewn on the fold with the right sides of the garment and the right side of the bias tape facing each other. Start with the end of the bias tape folded and end by overlapping the folded area. Then bias tape is then folded to the inside of the garment, the seam is trimmed or graded if needed, pressed in place and then sewn in place on the un-sewn edge of the bias tape. Under-stitching can be used to help the bias tape stay to the inside of the garment.

How to Sew Double Fold Bias Tape

There are two ways you can sew double fold bias tape:

  • Method One: To sew double sided bias tape, open the bias tape and place the correct side of the tape to the correct side of the fabric. Open one edge of the bias tape to align the fold with the seam line. Stitch in the fold line of the bias tape. Press to the finished location of the bias tape and top stitch it in place.
  • Alternate Method: When you are using purchases double fold bias tape, you will notice that one edge is not as wide as the other. Enclose the raw edge with the bias tape, keeping the narrower edge on the top side or the side that will be up when you are sewing. Pin or hand baste the bias tape in place. Carefully sew along the very edge of the narrower edge of the bias tape. The edge that is underneath should be sewn if you have aligned everything properly in the pinning or basting stage.