Maine, United States

Making Backpack / Bias Tape
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Making Backpack / Bias Tape

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The final post in this mini-series on the Making Backpack is a tutorial on how to make bias tape! Bias tape is one of those little things that can be used on all kinds of projects from finishing the edge of aprons (one of my grandma's favorite ways to use it), or in this case, to complete the inside of the Making Backpack. Bias tape can be purchased ready-made in a variety of sizes and colors from fabric stores, but I prefer to make it so that I get a perfect fabric match, or have more options. Making bias tape is super easy, so let's get started!  

What you'll need: 

  • fabric
  • ruler 
  • scissors or rotary cutter 
  • marking pen
  • iron 

1) First, make sure your fabric is nicely ironed. 

 2) Next, decide what size bias tape you will need for your project. For the Making Backpack, 1/2" is required. To figure out how wide you will need to cut the unfolded strips, take your desired width, and multiply it by 4. 

Example for 1/2" bias tape: 

1/2" (.50'') X 4 = 2" 

Now that you know how wide to make your strips, you can get started cutting!

3) Place your ruler on top of the fabric at a 45-degree angle following the fabric bias. To find the bias line, think of your material as a square, and the bias line flowing across the center from the bottom right-hand corner up to the top left-hand corner, and vice versa. Cutting fabric on the bias gives it the ability to be stretched and molded, which is essential when you're working with something that has a curve. 

When marking for cutting, I like to mark the first line right along the 45-degree angle line, and then mark below that line for the first strip. Then I work my way down, lining up my ruler with the 45-degree edge that was originally cut. 

You'll want to have a little bit of each tip overlapping about the width of your seam allowance or else your strips won't be straight. You'll cut off those little bits of excess fabric after sewing the bias strips together. 

4) After you have a few strips cut out, you'll probably need to sew them together to have enough length. The Making Backpack requires 3.5 yards, so I sewed several strips together.

To do this, cut the end of your strips at a 45-degree angle. Place the first strip with the longer edge at the top. Then place the other strip on top with the long end pointing down, creating a sort of right angle, matching up the angled edges of both strips. 

Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance, then trim to 1/4". Iron open seam allowance and trim excess fabric from the top and bottom edges (two little triangles). Attach additional strips until you reach the desired length.

5) Next, fold your strip in half at the width, and iron flat. 

6) Open the strip back up and fold up the bottom edge to the center fold line, and iron flat. 

7) Fold the bottom edge up again; now it's as if it's been rolled twice, and iron flat. 

8) Next, fold the top raw edge down and iron. 

9) Open back up the top edge you just folded down and tuck inside, then iron. 

When you purchase store-bought bias tape, you'll notice that one side is slightly wider than the other. The method I just showed helps to accomplish this. When you attach the bias tape, you'll want to attach the short side first on the right side, so that you have a little more room when you fold the other side over. 

And that's all there's to it! Happy sewing! - Emily