Sewing Basics # 14 – Easy Peasy Bias Strips

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of accurately marking out and cutting narrow strips of fabric on the bias seemed a bit too fiddly and a bit too much like hard work for my liking. So for ages I relied on my stash of ready made bias tape for projects. Then I had a minor brainwave and tried out the basic idea here. What d’ya know…it worked! Alot of you seemed to think it was a pretty neat idea, so I thought I’d share myΒ  bias strip technique in a little more detail in case, like me, you can’t be arsed to faff about πŸ˜‰

I used one of these bias tape makers to make my bias binding.Β  This particular size requires strips of fabric 1″ wide. So I got me some 1″ wide low tack masking tape (masking tape comes in several widths in our local hardware shop. If I need 2″ wide bias strips I just use 2″ wide masking tape)…

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

The fabric pictured is cut in a perfect square. (See here for an easy way to do this. The technique applies the same way to fabric as it does for paper!)Β  Now for a little geometry. Bias tape needs to be cut at a 45 degree angle to the grainline. On a perfect square, from point to point diagonally across the square, is exactly 45 degrees. So the strip of masking tape below, marks out a 1″ wide strip of fabric at a 45 degree angle…

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

Every subsequent piece of tape lined up against it will therefore be at the perfect 45 degree angle too. I just kept adding strips of tape either side until they became too short to be of reasonable use. (For zero waste, the resulting corners/trianges left over at the end.could go in your scrap pile until you’ve enough to make some bunting)….

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

Leaving just enough gap between each strip of tape for your scissor blades…

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

…provides a super accurate cutting guide and stabilises the fabric whilst you are cutting (bias by it’s nature is prone to stretching) this is especially useful on fine and/or slippery fabrics….

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

You end up with a load of strips backed with masking tape. Exactly the right size, with poker straight edges and cut precisely on the bias….

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

Square off the ends….

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

…and there you have them. Lovely neat bias strips. Ready to use to make your own bias tape. (I’ve been making up more than I need, then peeling off the masking tape as and when I need the make some bias tape up. Otherwise I leave the masking tape in place to keep them stabilised and store them for future use)

The easy way to make bias strips at www.makery.uk

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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62 Comments

  1. shivani October 17, 2011

    genius!!

    Reply
  2. Melizza October 17, 2011

    I much prefer this way than measuring, then cutting. Great tip! Thanks.

    Reply
  3. wendy October 17, 2011

    That is a genius idea! I’ve always been put off making bias tape, just the fiddlieness (is that a word?) of it. Off to raid DH’s DIY stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  4. twistedyarns October 17, 2011

    OMG – thank you!
    I was seriously pondering to get a rotary cutter to achieve straight cuts, but this is so much better!

    Reply
  5. lladybird October 17, 2011

    such a simple idea, why haven’t i ever thought of it?? ahhhh! thanks so much for sharing :3

    Reply
  6. Alethia October 17, 2011

    Great tutorial

    Reply
  7. Tasha October 17, 2011

    Hmm, very interesting way to do this!

    Reply
  8. didyoumakethat October 17, 2011

    I recognise that fabric!

    Reply
  9. Stephanie Lynn October 17, 2011

    This is amazing! I tried making bias tape once and it was a major fail! They do have machines that will make it for you but I can’t justify the cost. I will have to try this!

    Reply
  10. agoodwardrobe.com October 17, 2011

    oh my god – genius! I love adding silk charmeuse bias tape to projects for a little bit of shine and this is going to save me a lot of time and heart ache!

    Reply
  11. Paunnet October 17, 2011

    What a great technique! I’ve always used the one I found on Colette patterns’blog, but this might come in handy! I’m a bit obsessed with self made piping, so I use all of my scraps to make bias strips.

    Reply
  12. Elisalex October 17, 2011

    Sheer genius. A nightmare task made effortless!

    Reply
  13. Katharina October 17, 2011

    I love masking tape! What a GREAT idea! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  14. Annabelle October 18, 2011

    This is great, I need to share this with a friend of mine who just asked “what is bias tape?”. She is new to sewing and I told her she could buy it, but making is always nice because it gives you more options to find a coordinating fabric. This is a great picture tutorial that will make it so easy.

    Reply
  15. Miss P October 18, 2011

    Karen, indeed you do, he he! Watch this space πŸ™‚

    AGoodWardrobe, this’ll be perfect for silk charmeuse or anything similary delicate. So glad!

    Annabelle, glad it could help your friend.

    Everyone, so pleased you find this useful. Dunno about genius….Laziness is the mother of invention, ha ha!

    Px

    Reply
  16. SΓΈlvi October 18, 2011

    Oh, this is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  17. Sadie October 18, 2011

    this is such an awesome idea! Thank you! I made some today and it was totally easy peasy πŸ™‚

    Reply
  18. chicaandaluza October 18, 2011

    What a fantastic idea and a great tutorial – thanks!

    Reply
  19. Marie October 19, 2011

    I’m loving the masking tape trick, pure genius! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  20. Scruffybadger October 19, 2011

    Such A cOol top Tip. Love it!

    Reply
  21. Haikele-made October 20, 2011

    Very cool, thank you for showing us. Lg Heike

    Reply
  22. dixie October 20, 2011

    I love that technique! The tape idea is genius.

    Reply
  23. Carmencita B October 23, 2011

    Oh! Now this is a revelation! Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Anonymous November 16, 2011

    You have freed me from the grip of the old tired and never straight bias tape. I am sure the rotary cutter companies hide this trick from us. GRATEFUL HOBBY SEAMS FROM TX.

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      Gah! I HATE rotary cutters, lol! I’m just too cack handed to get on with them!

      Reply
  25. Clarissa July 21, 2012

    Fantastic!

    Reply
  26. ayoboluofnigeria July 29, 2012

    This is an amazing idea. double wow! saves time and helps with accuracy.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous September 7, 2012

    This is an incredible idea. I have found the rotary cutter helpful but gave up and rely on store bought tape.

    Reply
  28. Julia simple October 7, 2012

    wow so clever idea!

    http://babyemilycloset.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply
  29. J June 9, 2013

    OMG. I think I love you! lol!

    Reply
  30. Haylee June 30, 2013

    Oh my gosh you are a GENIUS. Wow this would have saved me so much time time and hassle, I wish I would have seen it before darn it!

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      If it’s any consolation Haylee it was a while before it dawned in me! A real face palm moment, lol! Px

      Reply
  31. Lorna July 20, 2013

    Oh, thanks for this stroke of utter genius! I avoid bias bits and bobs like the plague, but there’s no excuse now!

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      Piece of cake now! Px

      Reply
  32. Sew Savory July 22, 2013

    I just stumbled across this… you are a shear genius! I love the idea of leaving the tape in place. I’ve used blue painter’s tape in quilting but never hit upon the idea of tape for making bias strips. Perfect, perfect, perfect! Thank you very, very much.

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      I use painters tape too! All depends what width I want my strips to be. You are very welcome. So glad it’s useful to you!

      Reply
  33. Kineret August 27, 2013

    LOVE IT. Got cutting mat and rotary cutter but this is just SOOO much better! Thank you!

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      You’re so welcome. πŸ™‚ Px

      Reply
  34. Patti February 15, 2015

    Really like this; quite ingenious. Have you ever experienced the tape sticking too much to the fabric? If so, how have you handled it.

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      I use a low tack masking tape. If it still feels too sticky,you can reduce the tack further by sticking the strip on a fluffy towel or blanket before sticking it on your fabric. Px

      Reply
  35. Julia McDaniel February 15, 2015

    Maybe a dumb question: but does this mean the strips won’t ravel? Do I still have to turn them under so they don’t?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • portia February 15, 2015

      Hi Julia, not dumb at all. Remove the tape when you’re ready to use the strips and then turn the edges into the middle as normal to create your bias tape πŸ™‚ Px

      Reply
  36. BLC March 4, 2015

    I noticed that you mention leaving the tape on until you need that strip – just make sure not to leave it on TOO long, because I’ve seen masking tape degrade; the tape often becomes like dust & the glue stays stuck to whatever it’s attached to! Now, of course we’re talking about years later, especially in an ‘extreme’ environment (perhaps next to a radiator, or a basement, etc) & you probably use them fairly soon. But I’ve noticed in my own life time slipping by, as well as uncovering forgotten bits in my craft stash/room YEARS after putting them aside for “a week or two”, so I wanted to make certain to mention it!

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • portia March 4, 2015

      You make a good point Brenda! Thank you πŸ™‚

      Reply
  37. AnnR Sheffield UK March 11, 2015

    Brilliant Idea TFS and demonstrating

    Reply
    • portia March 11, 2015

      You’re welcome Ann πŸ™‚

      Reply
  38. fatima mosiejuk March 22, 2015

    I am a sewer for more years than I care to remember and you are definitely an inspiration! What a brilliant brilliant idea. Cutting strips on the bias is a nightmare even when one has been sewing for years. So, THANK YOU, I shall now bias bind everything hahaa…

    Reply
    • portia March 22, 2015

      Fatima that’s such a compliment, thank you! Glad you like! Px

      Reply
  39. edwina April 3, 2015

    If you use tape to mark lines and then draw in, remove tape and then join sides making a tube (align one row out) then when you cut along lines you will end up wil several metres of bias rather than bits and no waste. Quilters do this all the time *and very quick)

    Reply
    • portia April 3, 2015

      I’ve seen that technique around Edwina yes πŸ™‚ not tried it yet though. Perhaps I should!

      Reply
  40. Sue April 26, 2015

    will definitely try this!

    Reply
  41. francesca July 30, 2015

    Wow. this is simply genius. My bias improved greatly after investing in a cutting board and a rotary cutter – but this beats it! Thanks so very much!

    Reply
    • portia July 30, 2015

      You are so welcome Francesca!

      Reply
  42. Pat Hayes August 20, 2015

    What?? Can’t believe these comments/suggestions were written in 2015… Anyone who knows how to use a rotary cutter properly, knows that bias strips can be cut in a fraction of the time over your masking tape method! Once you find the 45 degree angle (with that line on most wide rotary cutting rulers), you make your 1st cut, the. You use the lines already on the ruler for whatever width you want your strips, then just cut one strip after another! Each one of my cuts are probably 2 seconds – if that..

    And re your advice on using ‘masking’ tape – wrong… Too sticky and DO NOT leave it on the fabric-you’ll have an awful residue and ruin the fabric.
    I’m guessing all the comments that are calling your tip “genius”, are from sewers with very little experience.
    Back to the blogs by experienced sewers/quilters.
    Just goes to show that anyone can have a blog, despite their lack of experience or good content.

    Reply
    • portia August 20, 2015

      Wow! Could never have imagined sharing how I choose to cut my bias strips would elicit such a cross response. I’m sorry that you didn’t personally find anything of use here and I’m happy that you have a method of cutting bias strips that works for you. Sadly I have never gotten on with rotary cutters so I found a way of doing it that works for me. I’m guessing from your response that you won’t be following this blog. I’m cool with that. But thanks for stopping by and sharing your take on things. Have an awesome day. Px

      Reply
  43. Jenny (ig: silverbellsandcockleshells) September 6, 2015

    Thanks Portia – I read your instructions and am now feeling much more competent about my bias binding for #therefashioners2015
    Thanks for pointing me in this direction!
    Jenny πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • portia September 8, 2015

      Ah that’s awesome Jenny! So glad it helped πŸ™‚

      Reply
  44. Fiona March 28, 2016

    Hi sorry to be a “pluts” but I live in Spain and not a very good sewer πŸ™‚ but I try πŸ™‚ my question is what size gadget should I buy? Thank you for the tips very helpful by the way πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie March 28, 2016

      No need to apologise Fiona! The gadgets come in different sizes depending on how wide you want your finished bias tape to be. But I would suggest that a 1″ bias gadget would be a good place to start. Good luck! Be careful of your fingers on the iron πŸ˜‰ Px

      Reply
  45. Nicole Clement April 28, 2016

    One tip about the “Be careful of your fingers on the iron”…I struggled with this for years myself. Then I discovered that I can use a butter knife (instead of fingers) to hold down whatever fabric is near the iron at the moment. No more scorched fingers for me!

    Thank you for sharing your tips and ideas, these are giving me great ideas to try!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie April 28, 2016

      Oooh I like that! Thanks! I often use the tips of my thread snips in place of my fingers at the sewing machine if I need to get close in to the needle…but never thought of using it near the iron! Great idea! !

      Reply
  46. Brenda December 29, 2016

    Love this idea! However, I would be weary of storing for long periods of time with the tape attached, and it really doesn’t serve much of a purpose after the lengths are cut.

    Reply

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