Hotpads + attaching bias tape

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.
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 hair clips 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?

  1. 1) Meghan

    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

  2. 2) Betsy

    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!!

    • 3) ATK

      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.

    • 4) hope rice

      Have you used the Clover Bias tape maker? it helps a lot. Another tip: when you first make it, wind it around a toilet paper tube for 24hr; this allows the ironing to “set” and keeps it folded better when you use it

  3. 5) Jeannie

    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!

    • 6) tory wright

      Yup…me too…my hand ‘invisible stitch’ always gives a smooth ‘finished’ look to whatever I’m binding…just as sturdy (and as quick) as the machine version!

  4. 7) Rane

    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.

  5. 8) Sheila

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

  6. 9) MKB

    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!

  7. 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 : )

    • 11) Aubrey

      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.

  8. 12) Annette

    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!! πŸ™‚

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

    • 15) Luanne Runshe

      I make my own bias tape all the time with the Clover kit.. I have always sewn the LITTLE side of the bias tape on first- then when you turn the BIG side and stitch it you are sure not to have any “skippers”.

  11. 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! πŸ™‚

  12. 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!

  13. 18) Ann-Marie

    Thank you so much for all of these great tutorials!

  14. Thank you so much for this!! I’ve been struggling so much with bias tape! Off to try again with my new found knowledge! πŸ™‚

  15. 21) evelyn

    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!

  16. 22) tharana

    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. πŸ™ 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??

  17. 23) Toni

    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..

    • 24) Jac

      Hi Toni. i am unsure if your question was answered, but if you email a photo of your project I may be able to assist. I do not believe the instructions in this tutorial will help me with bias tape. I always hand finished bias tape with a sewing needle for a clean finish or use the cheater method. I am thrilled to learn how to make bias tape accurately. When no bias tape was available or I needed a perfect match, I made bias tape by hand with just scissors and fabric. What I did by necessity is called couture today. I had no idea that people did not know how to work with bias tape for a professional finish. I am thrilled to see new sewists learn tips to help them get to sewing quickly. Thank you for the clear tips and photos and tips in thw comment section. I would like to see a return to home sewists becoming a normal activity. I generally hide my sewing hobby and never wear what I sew. If you say you bought a new dress on discount, no one looks for flaws. If you say you made something, automatically people look for the homemade flaws with a magnifying glass.

  18. 25) Maggie

    Hi Dana,

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


  19. 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!

  20. 27) Andrea

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

  21. 28) doris

    hope i can do this im trying put binding on a circle center piece πŸ™ no luck

  22. 29) Farrah

    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!

    • 30) charlene

      Farrah, did you get this figured out? I would open up the bias tape on both pieces, trying to lay one of them flat on a table, with the folds opening up toward the table. Lay the second piece on top of it, like making a sandwich, but the folds will be facing you. Pin in place, then draw a 45 degree line across the two, sew it, open it up to make sure the folds all line up and the seam is on the correct side, trim the edges of the 45 degree angle to about 1/4 inch and keep going with your project. I’m sorry I can’t seem to find a tute with pictures. Play with it, and you’ll get it!

  23. 31) Sabrina

    Trying to make a small biker outfit for my soon to come baby boy but still dont understand how this stuff works! πŸ™‚

  24. 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.

  25. 33) hope rice

    you can also use washable Elmers glue and “heat set” it with an iron as you go along; the glue washes out and it holds the tape in place until you sew it; slick and effective.

  26. 34) Hannah

    Where do you buy the printed biased tape? All I can find is solid colors?


  27. 36) Serena

    Where are these “Made” labels from?! Love them!!!

  28. 37) Linda

    Yes, I would like to know where these β€œMade” labels are from., Love them!!!

  29. 39) Debbie

    When cheating use the short side up(the part you can see) …use the wider side on the bottom(bobbin side)…this way you rarely miss. You will not have the spots that didn’t get sewn. Do not sew right on the edge…give yourself a little room to do turns…since the wider part is underneath you can sew further in….I hardly miss this way…if by chance I do…I just hand sew a blind stitch…..I’m lazy…I don’t iron before even on my corners….it comes out straight. .i do like the comment about spritzing it…and stretching it.

Leave a Comment