TUTORIAL: Heart Hotpads – how to sew bias tape the proper way and the cheating way

by Dana on July 6, 2008

I love hotpads, potholders, whatever you prefer to call them.
But here’s the thing….I hate to make them.
So here’s my semi-handmade version!
And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, hearts were in order.
Using these cheap potholders from IKEA and the thrift store:
I made my own bias tape and bound my old hotpads with the new trim.
In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the proper way to sew bias tape and the short-cut cheating way.
So let’s get started.
Grab a potholder. I purchased these white ones at IKEA for $2. Wash/dry them first as they tend to shrink significantly.
Place a piece of paper over the potholder and free-hand draw half of heart, then cut out the entire heart. Trace this onto the potholder and cut it out.
And you’re half-way done! If you prefer making your own potholders, you can use two layers of fabric with quilt batting inside. There’s a snazzy tutorial HERE on Liesl Made.
Okay, now grab your 1/2 inch-wide, double-fold bias tape. If you’re new to bias tape or would like to make your own, check out our very detailed tutorial HERE.
Okay.
The PROPER way to sew on Bias Tape.

Sometimes I sew bias tape the proper way….and sometimes I take the lazy short cut. Both have benefits. But I won’t deny that sewing it on the proper way always looks nicer. So here’s the right way to do it.

Unfold the bias tape. And starting with the slightly wider side of the tape (discussed in the bias tape tutorial), pin it to the back side of the potholder. Go all the way around and when you get to the top/middle of the heart, overlap the tape over a bit to create a crease. If you’re sewing a normal shaped potholder, you don’t need to do this.
When you get to the bottom of the potholder, sew the two ends of the bias tape together. For this potholder I was lazy and simply sewed a straight line across. In the next potholder below, I sewed the two tapes together in a zigzag line and it created a diagonal finish that matches up with the point of the heart.

Okay, start sewing the bias tape onto the back side of the potholder. Sew your line on top of the first folded line on the tape (which is still visible from when it was all folded together)…this is about a 1/2 inch in from the edge of the potholder.
When you’re done, flip the potholder over and fold the bias tape over to the front side. Pin it all the way around and overlap/tuck any excess bias tape in at the top and bottom of the heart. There are more fancy ways to tuck these in but this is the simple, semi-handmade version. I’m all about easy. If pinning doesn’t work for you (and keeps poking your fingers), trying holding the bias tape with bendable hair clips–the cheapy kind–you can buy them in the quilting section at a craft store or at Target/Walmart stores.
Finally, sew the bias tape down on the front side of the potholder. Shift your needle over to the left a bit so you can sew close to the edge of the bias tape. The benefit to sewing bias tape with this method is that you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve sewn through to the back side. Meaning….there won’t be any gaps where you might have sewn on the front side but missed the back side of the bias tape….because the back side is already sewn in place! This may sound confusing but once you do it, it’ll all make sense.
And you’re done!
The Cheating way to sew on Bias Tape:
This is the method I use more often than the above. It’s a little tricky with this particular design, since it’s a small-ish heart. It’s better suited for blankets and straight sewing. But here’s how it goes. Place the wider side of the bias tape on the back of the potholder and just sandwich the edge of the potholder inside the bias tape. Pin it down all the way around, overlapping in the very middle top of the heart.
When you get to the bottom, sew the two ends closed in a zigzag formation. This is the same method used in the Sweater Vest Tutorial. This creates the perfect diagonal casing for the point of the heart.
When everything is pinned down, sew down the bias tape! Sew as close as you can to the edge and remove the pins one by one right before you get to them. This will help the bias tape sew-down nicer. When sewing around the curves, periodically lift the presser foot to keep the bias tape from folding and creasing.

Other ideas that may help:
* Iron the bias tape around your potholder before sewing to help it form to the shape of the potholder.
* Use bendable hairclips to hold the bias tape in place, instead of straight pins. Remove them one by one as you sew.
* Avoid pins all together and sew slowly around, fixing/pulling/and making sure the potholder is sandwiched inside as you go.
* Use a zigzag stitch to sew around the bias to ensure that you catch all parts of the bias tape as you sew.
If you have a little label, add it in.
And there you go! Two heart hotpads.
Examining the backside, the proper sewn hotpad looks much nicer. The cheating method on the right has a few spots where I missed sewing through to the backside of the tape. As I said, it’s a better method for straight sewing, rather than curves. If this was a gift, I would pick those parts out and resew them. But eh, it’s just for me; the underside can be wonky.
Because on the front, they both look cute!…and make me want to bake up Coconut-lime Banana Bread.
I heart bias tape.
Just had to say it, right?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meghan January 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Dana,
This was incredibly helpful! I recently made a new liner for my daughter’s baby doll stroller and edged the whole thing with bias tape – it’s not pretty! Next time I use the stuff I will feel much more confident – thank you (for this and all the great information you share on your blog). Meghan

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2 Betsy January 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Hi Dana! I’m new to sewing and frantically trying to finish some projects for my third child (due in 4 weeks). Looking at your cheating method, I wonder why double fold bias tape is necessary. Would single fold bias tape work here since the fabric is just sandwiched between the tape? I live in Spain and it is incredibly difficult to find supplies, so I have to order online and the extra dollar or two spent on double-fold could buy me more single fold or some shipping. (Not quite ready to make my own tape…believe me, I tried it and no, not yet.) Thank you!!

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3 ATK April 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Double fold is just single fold bias tape folded and creased in half, so there’s an extra step already done for you when purchasing the double fold. If you can find a wide enough single fold, then it would be easy enough (although time-consuming) to iron it in half yourself.

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4 Jeannie February 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I don’t especially like sewing bias tape either, but if I really want it to look good I hand sew the second step . . . my sewing never looks good when I try to sew the final seam!

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5 Rane April 26, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I lOVE bias tape and use it often. I have found it much easier to get the results I want, if I spritz it until it is damp, before I pin it in place. Press it while it is damp and it will stretch and conform to the curves and circles.

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6 Sheila May 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Thanks for the great information. So helpful, can’t wait to use my new bias tape maker now.

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7 MKB June 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

I use the “cheating method” too, but my trick is to use a glue stick to hold it in place before stitching. First I iron the tape in place to mold it, especially around curves. Then glue stick it in place and sew. Works PERFECTLY and I never miss a spot!

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8 Fiona Holmes @Imogens Angels July 20, 2012 at 12:59 am

Eeeekkkk I have always done it the cheats way. Never even knew there was a proper way. I love that there is a way to do this not have all the missed sides joining up, especially when making something special for someone. Thanks for sharing : )

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9 Aubrey September 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I realize this is an old comment, but I just have to comment on this.
Fiona, you are not alone! I have been using bias tape for at least 2 years and never knew there was anything, but the cheating way! I wish I had know.

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10 Annette August 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

HA!! No wonder I can never get those gosh darn baby blanket bindings to come out right… I’ve been doing it wrong all these years!! lol I guess I should have put away my pride and found a tutorial before now. Oh thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for showing me the right way to do use bias tape. (And how to make it!) I promise to always use the proper method. No more wonky blanket bindings!! :)

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11 warmewegirl August 23, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Don’t forget, since it’s BIAS tape, it’s a little stretchy, so pull it a little and it will be smoother around those curves!

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12 Elaine August 26, 2012 at 2:30 am

I never realized there was a proper and cheat way to sew bias tape, although I’ve used both methods. When I graduated from my master’s program, my parents bought me a new sewing machine and I purchased the bias tape foot – love it! It’s basically the cheater way, but it sews the tape on perfectly!

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13 Kim August 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Oh, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I could just reach through the interwebz and hug you for this!

I never knew there was a “right” way to sew bias tape – quite frankly, I’ve avoided projects which use bias tape all together because I was intimidated. Not any more! BRING ON THE BIAS TAPE! :)

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14 Heather September 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for the tutorial. I’m anxious to try the proper way of sewing on bias tape. I made some potholders from scratch last year and intended to give them as gifts but the stitching looked terrible in the back so I kept them. I will use this method next time!

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15 Ann-Marie October 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thank you so much for all of these great tutorials!

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16 Being Inspired October 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Thank you so much for this!! I’ve been struggling so much with bias tape! Off to try again with my new found knowledge! :)

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17 Being Inspired October 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’m back again! Finished my little oven mitt – http://beinginspired-blog.blogspot.ie/2012/10/oven-hand-mitt.html. Just wanted to say thanks! I didn’t get the bias tape quite right but it was so much better than when I struggled on my own! :)

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18 evelyn November 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I had been searching online for info on bias tape makers, and this tutorial was so incredibly helpful! The amount of pictures is also awesome. I have never sewed before so I’ll be back when I start trying to make something with bias tape. Thanks for going through the trouble to post so much info!

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19 tharana January 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm

i’m a total beginner to sewing and have just completed 2 dresses for my 2 year old. i started on the third one and decided to do it with bias tape on the neckline. i made my own bias tape (without the bias maker). it came out well. but i messed it up while sewing it to the neckline. :( i have no clue how to undo what i did. so i discarded the piece and am onto cutting out a new piece. now i’m not really sure if i want to do bias tape anytime soon. but seeing your tute makes it look easier. so you think i should have a go at it again??

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20 Toni January 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Can anyone give me tips for sewing bias tape ‘on top’ of fabric. Not over the edge, but, for example, contrast on the top of a pocket. I am having great difficulty in ‘matching up’ the center V where each side dips together..

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21 Maggie February 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hi Dana,

Thanks for the great tutorial, do you have a method you prefer when you bind seams in clothing?

MK

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22 Jewel June 14, 2013 at 11:59 am

Thanks for the awesome tutorial, I linked to it on my blog to provide directions for my chalk cloth mat. Although I do the cheater method, I love how easy you make it look!

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23 Keira November 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

When someone writes an post he/she maintains the idea of a user in his/her brain that how a user can know it.

So that’s why this piece of writing is perfect. Thanks!

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24 Andrea December 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hello!
Great tutorial!!! Very helpful!! If I may ask where did you find the tags for your potholders?

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25 doris January 8, 2014 at 6:05 am

hope i can do this im trying put binding on a circle center piece :( no luck

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26 Farrah January 12, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I am working on my 1st sewing project as an adult (they need to teach this stuff in high school, not middle school). I am using the double store bought bias. The item I am working on has turns and corners. So I placed the bias on some of it and then cut it off at the “end” of that area (left about 1/2 in). I now realize that for corners you need to keep the bias tape going. I have already cut it. Is there a way to combine the already sewed bias and a new section of bias? I’m not looking for perfect – I will save that for the next project. Thank you for reading!

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27 Sabrina March 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Trying to make a small biker outfit for my soon to come baby boy but still dont understand how this stuff works! :-)

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28 Cherie June 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Thanks, this was a great help. I think I will used the first method in the future. I have tried the second and it always comes out wonky and frustrates me. I actually thought the the easy, first way you finished the point of the heart looked better than the zigzag finishing method.

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