Checking in on my #100dayproject and wanted to share this handy trick I learned for making 1/2″ double fold bias tape, which works well for mask ties. I’m following instructions for three sizes of masks using this tutorial, which calls for a tie about the width and length of a shoelace. For me, that has meant I need a finished tie about 1/4″ wide and 36″-50″ long (longer for men’s masks, shorter for women’s and children’s.) Most elastic and cording is sold out online, and now even pre-packaged bias tape is getting hard to find. So, I’ve had to get resourceful and teach myself a new skill.
Here’s a quick tutorial of sorts for making your own bias tape with a DIY bias tape maker. All you need is a straight pin and an iron. My photos aren’t pretty but hopefully they’re useful.
Step 1: Cut 1″ strips of fabric from a section between 36″-50″ long. For true bias tape, you would cut these strips diagonally (on the bias) to give the tape more stretch. Bias tape is usually used to cover hems and edges, so it needs flexibility. For this purpose, stretch isn’t as important, so I’ve gotten more use from my fabric by cutting with the grain. I use a cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter to make my strips.
Step 2: Preheat your iron. I got mine for $3 at Goodwill seven years ago. A little steam and some starch are helpful for holding shape. I used a tiny bit of corn starch, because, $3 iron. Press a short section of the 1″ strip in half lengthwise, so that the width is now 1/2″. (Tiny hand of my 2-year-old “helper” sneaking into the frame.)
Step 3: Open this section and then fold each side in to meet the center crease. Iron this down again. Your fabric strip is now 1/2″ wide, with each side folded inward measuring 1/4″.
Step 4: Here is the cool part. Get a straight pin and work it into your ironing board fabric so that it comes out just beside the top of your bias tape. Insert it again as close to the bottom edge of the bias tape as possible, and thread it through your ironing board fabric again. You want to create a little “buckle” with the pin, and you want it to hold the bias tape as near to each edge as possible. If that makes no sense, have a look at the picture.
Step 5: You’ve just created a DIY bias tape maker. Now you can run your tape through the “buckle” you’ve created with the pin, ironing it down on one side as you pull it through. Use one hand to iron and the other to guide the fabric through the buckle. You will have to work it a little with your fingers to make sure each side stays even. You’ll also want to pick the iron up every so often so that you don’t burn a hole in your ironing board!
Step 6: To turn your finished bias tape into a 1/4″ tie for your handmade mask, fold the ends of your bias tape under before you fold it in half lengthwise, and stitch straight up the side, close to the edge. Reinforce the ends to keep from fraying. You’re done!