Knit bias tape

When I blogged about my new blouse the other week some of you mentioned that you’ve never encountered knit bias tape. It is quite rare in Sweden too, not every sewing store has it. In fact I can only think of one store in my hometown who has a decent selection and I buy most of mine from the Swedish mail order vendor Bibbis textil whom I can highly recommend if you are a Swedish reader, she has a great selection of notions at a good price and her service and knowledge is fantastic.

Knit bias tape is made of cotton that is either matte or mercerized and can be used for all sort of bindings on knits, I use it sometime for arm holes and necklines.

Both the neckline and key hole opening is done with knit bias tape.

But my number one usage is for covering collar seams on knits. As I’m sure you have noticed many ready-to wear-knit tops have the serged seam covered with ribbing, at least the more high end t-shirts and tops has.
Like this t-shirt from Boden:


While it’s not exactly the same, I think bias tape is a good substitute for this sort of finish.

Here I used back knit bias tape with machine embroidery for the neckline.
Hope you guys who are living in other countries can track down some knit bias tape too!


  • wendy
    March 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Interesting – based on the picture, I would call the blue stuff at the top "Fold Over Elastic". (I can't see the bottom two as well, but they seem to be lacking the characteristic 'ridge' that FOE has for, well, folding over an edge)

    I do sometimes cut strips of knit to use as impromptu binding, but it's very wiggly to cut on a bias with most thinner knits!

    • Johanna
      March 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      It does looks a bit like fold over elastic, but it is quite different. It is 100% cotton, think soft t-shirt jeresy, so not firm in any way, unlike elastic that contains lycra, nylon and stuff.

      I agree about cutting knits, it soo hard getting an evenly cut ribbon, that is why I prefer the ready made kind!

  • EmilyKate
    March 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    A couple of my Japanese sewing books have instructions for this but they have you cut a straight-grain strip of knit and running it through your bias tape maker. I've made attempts, but when it comes down to it, but like Wendy I've just found it too fiddly and the knit fabric does't press well…. I AM really keen to see if I can track down some of this pre made knit bias online somewheres!

    • Johanna
      March 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      You know it is a little strange that the knit tape I'm using is cut on the bias, since knits are so stretchy anyway, so it would make sense to cut it straight grain instead just like in the books you mention. And I totally hear you when it comes to pressing, I did some bias tape out of a fairly stable knit fabric a few days ago and I kept pressing and pressing and it didn't stick well at all.

  • Marie-Christine
    March 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Actually, you want to cut a straight strip of knit on the CROSS grain, as that is the stretchiest direction in a knit (well, generally, check :-)). And that works just fine. The reason you don't find much knit bias tape is that it makes no sense in knits :-).
    And EmilyKate, the effectiveness of a bias tape maker would very much rely on fabric content vs iron temperature. You don't want to melt synthetics, but without enough temperature they won't even crease.

    • Johanna
      March 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

      MC, thank you for your points, cross grain is the right way, I wrote straight too without thinking about it :). The best thing about the bias tape is that is 100% even and already folded, which makes for a super neat and easy finishing. Self fabric or ribbing is of course brilliant, but can some times be a bit harder to handle I think.

    • EmilyKate
      March 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Marie-Christine. Yeah, the iron temp thing was a problem, but just also the way the knit seemed to stretch as I ironed no matter how I tried to just press down from above, it kept growing… a bit more experimentation would probably have found the temperature sweetspot, but laziness prevailed ;o)

  • Margo
    March 19, 2012 at 1:44 am

    thanks for more info. I just saw a dress tutorial where she made bias tape out of an old tee-shirt. Interesting.

  • Nancy K
    March 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I was thinking that it was fold over trim as well, but I've never seen it in cotton. Next time I am in NYC I am going to have to look closely at Pacific trimmings trims to see if they have it in cotton. It's really nice looking.

  • Anonymous
    April 2, 2012 at 12:30 am

    May I ask what type thread you use to sew the cotton bias tape on with?

  • Brenna
    May 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    i WISH!!! you could purchase knit bias tape… i loath having to make my own everytime… i've become rather placid in it though… just been serging my ends and then running a top stitch to fold it under. works for now lol.

  • nina
    December 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    the trick to using knit fabric as homemade bias tape is to starch or size it. there are products you can spray on, brush on or soak the fabric in. once it's dry, it handles like a crisp woven fabric. starch it before you cut out the strips and it makes cutting nice exact lines much easier. you might need to experiment–too much starch and the tape wont be flexible enough to curve around a neckline. if you arent using the tape right away, keep it under a weight, like a book, to hold the creases in place. i find that very thin fabric is best for double fold bias tape–four layers of normal thickness fabric gets very bulky.
    i also just cut the strips crosswise.
    if you can't buy a clover bias tape maker [which is an inexpensive gadget], the following blog post shows you how to make one out of cardboard:

  • nina
    December 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    another reason to make your own bias strips [whether from knit or woven] is fabric choice. in the US, prefolded bias tape is usually made from a not very nice feeling cotton/polyester blend, and only comes in solid colors.
    i think the very best thing about home sewing is the incredible variety of fabrics available. i started a sewing blog, but its really more about loving fabric.


Leave a Reply