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Sure, you can buy bias tape. But, it usually comes in four yard packages, and the truth is, four yards is not a lot of bias tape, especially when you’re making masks.
I have a 3D printer, and I’ve printed and used several of the bias tape makers available. None of them work like I feel they should, and some of them are a real pain in the @$$ to thread and get started. They work great for feeding straight into your sewing machine and sewing it together if you’re making ties for masks, but not so much if you want real bias tape for cleaning up the edges of a project.
But, making your own bias tape doesn’t have to be painful. And, the math is pretty simple. I make all my bias tape out of an Amazon Basics full-size sheet. It’s cheap and readily available.
First, you need to decide if you want “single-fold” or “double-fold”. Single-fold is the easiest to make, but double-fold will hide its own ragged edges. I’m going to assume you’re wanting double-fold below, but if you want single-fold, instead of multiplying by 4, just multiply by 2 and only fold the fabric strip in half.
Now, you need to decide how wide to cut the strip of fabric… ask yourself, “how wide of a strip do I need to cover up the edges, seams, and stitches?” Let’s say you need a 1/2″ strip to show which is pretty standard. Multiply that number by 4, and that’s how wide a strip of cloth you need to cut. In this example, I’ll cut a 2″ wide strip of cloth.
To cut this strip, I fold the sheet in half, top to bottom, then fold it in half again, and keep folding it in half until I have a width that I can cut with a straight edge and rotary cutter. This can get thick, so you’ll have to press hard, make multiple passes, and above all else, BE CAREFUL. Those rotary cutters are just circular razor blades, and they WILL cut you bad if you get a finger in the way. You can cut your strip with scissors if you don’t have a rotary cutter, just mark it with a straight edge and cut the line carefully.
Once you’ve got your strip of fabric, cut the stitching that holds the hems at the top and bottom with a seam ripper and unfold the hems. Now you have one really long piece of fabric that’s 2″ wide.
Start at one end, fold it in half as you go, and press it with a hot iron set to steam. Work your way all the way to the other end of the strip. Now you’ve got a strip of cloth that’s 1″ wide creased down the center.
This part gets a little tricky, but you’ll want to unfold the strip you just made, and fold the sides in to meet that center crease. Unfold the center and fold the sides in to meet the center crease you just made. Work a little at a time and press and steam with your iron all the way to the other end. This takes a some time depending on how long your strip of fabric is. When you get to the other end, you’ll have a strip of fabric that’s 1″ wide with 1/2” of each edge folded to the middle.
Now, one more time, without unfolding the edges that you just pressed, fold the strip in half with the folded edges on the inside, and press and steam as you go with your iron.
You should have a piece of double-fold bias tape! Congratulate yourself, have a beer, show off your handiwork and revel in the money you saved!