A tape is a strip of material with a variety of uses. Here are some of the most important tapes used in sewing.
Uses of Tapes in sewing
In sewing, different types of tapes are used for a variety of uses. Some are used to hold things, some give strength and stiffness, some are used to fasten things, some are used only for their decorative looks and some are so functional that you cannot imagine sewing without them, like the bias tape
Names for the Tapes
Bias tape is a strip of fabric you can buy premade at shops or make yourself – it is basically a long fabric piece cut on the bias grain of the fabric. The tape is used to finish armholes, necklines, and other edges and also as drawstrings, straps, etc.
It is available as a Single fold Bias Tape in widths of 1/2 inches, or 7/8 inches. In a single fold bias tape the side edges of the fabric strip are folded lengthwise to the middle of the strip. Double Fold Bias Tape is a single fold bias tape folded again to the middle. It usually measures 1/4 inches (but a wider one can measure 1/2 inch). A double fold bias tape is used to finish the edges or as drawstring, cord etc.
You can also buy a wider bias tape as Blanket Binding or quilt binding. The name themselves are self explanatory. They are about 1-1/2″ to 2″ wide. A hem facing is another bias cut tape.
Learn how to make bias tape from fabric here.
A braid is a band/plaid made by interweaving different strands of yarn/cord.
Loop braids, Middy braids, Soutache braids are the different types of braids. Loop braid is a round braid made by braiding cotton cords. Middy braid is a flat and narrow braid made of rayon cord. Soutache braid is another round rayon braid but with a narrow center ditch. You can use it for making decorative motifs.
You can learn how to make a 4 strand braid here.
Ready-made fabric tape
This is a very pretty fabric tape that can be used in sewing and crafting as it is – make bows, use as trim, tie parcels etc.
Interfacing tape/Edge tape
This is a 3/4 inch wide tape made of interfacing material. Used to interface and strengthen small areas; instead of using the big interfacing material you cut this narrow tape in convenient sizes and use. You can use dry heat to adhere this tape as you would with interfacing.
Elastic tapes are available in width ranging from 5 mm and in many colors and even in a transparent version.
This is 1/2 inch wide tape that is used to finish hems of skirts, pants, dresses, jackets etc, as well as to strengthen the edges. The hem tape has adhesive on one side.
You can lookout for hemming web tape with backing paper and this can be ironed into the hem. Learn how to use the hem tape here.
Piping is a fabric tape made of fabric-covered cord which is inserted between seams. Here one or two cords are covered with a long fabric piece. It is used on necklines, hems, armhole edges and to decorate upholstery. Learn how to sew piping here.
Emergency fix tapes
These tapes are wash-away tapes with an adhesive side used for a variety of things in sewing. You can use it to hold down the fabric to paper during paper piecing, keep fabric pieces together temporarily. You can sew over it and then wash the fabric later to remove it. Good quality tapes would not gum up sewing machine needles when you sew over them.
Seam binding tape
This is a tape added along the seams of garments, accessories, upholstery etc for sealing the seam allowance edges. It is used like a bias tape to bind the edges of the cut edges – gives a very neat finish. You can find polyester cotton and rayon tapes in shops. Polyester one is a little stiff and can melt when it is ironed, cotton is also stiff and bulky whereas the rayon seam binding tape is soft and pliable.
A seam tape is added to the seam and provides waterproofing for the items which are meant for outdoors, because even if you are using water-resistant fabric, there will be needle holes on the seams which will seep in the water. A seam tape will stop this. To make a waterproof garment really waterproof you need seam tape.
Stay tape is a thin (1/4″ to 3/8″) fusible or non fusible tape used to strengthen edges as well as prevent fabric edges from fraying. It is usually stitched to the inside of necklines and other edges so that they do not stretch out of shape.
This is a wide open-weave stiff synthetic tape which is used to add structure and strength of hemlines of skirts and dresses. It is made of openweave Nylon crinoline material. Read more on horsehair braid here.
This is a 1/4 inch tape used by quilters as a guide for sewing quilting stitches. It is mainly an aligning and positioning tape.
This is a somewhat stiff woven polyester tape. This is used on the hems of gowns and trouser pants to protect the edges from wear and tear.
These are used instead of individual fasteners – you just have to sew these tapes with your sewing machine.
This is a Nylon tape with metal grommets attached to it – it is used to lace up garments like corsets, lingerie and waist clincher belts.
These are tapes with snaps attached to them. Read more on snap fasteners here.
Velcro Tape (Hook and loop tape)
A velcro tape consists of two parts joined together – fuzzy soft loops on one side stick to the hook side of the other part. This is a very easy to use fastener. It is sewed overlapping each other. It is used added to an open seam. Hook tape is placed on the under lap and the loop tape on the overlap.
Hook and eye tape
This tape has hooks on one side and eyes on the other side – The tapes on either side should face each other (not overlap)
There are many types of drapery tapes used in home furnishing. One is is a type of header tape used on top of the curtains to hold the pleats in place.
Another is a hook tape used on the back of the curtain at the top to hang hooks.
Ribbons are available in different widths for a variety of uses including ribbon embroidery, trimming. Silk ribbons are the most expensive. You can check out more on the different types of ribbons available here.
Fringe trim tape
This refers to a flat tape with loops of different lengths along the length – this is usually yarn. It is usually inserted into a seam. Tassels fringes have tassels attached to the loops. Bullion fringe trims have thicker cord as the fringes. Learn how to make fringe trims here.
Lace and embroidered tapes
These tapes made of lace fabric or embroidered cotton fabrics are usually added to the edges. Lace trim can be attached to finish a hem, as sleeves, as an accent between fabrics. You can learn more about lace trims here.
Ric Rac tape
Ric rac trim is a polyester flat braid made in a zig zag pattern. It is available in widths from 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches. It serves a decorative purpose.
Gimp is a narrow flat decorative tape, measuring about 3/8 to 1/2 inches in width.
Learn more about the trims used in sewing here.
This is a cotton or polyester tape with a distinctive diagonal twill weave. This is used for binding edges, reinforce fabric edges and seams, make handles of bags, drawstrings etc.
This is the name of a flat woven tape with a variety of functions in sewing. Webbing made of polyester/nylon fibers as well as cotton/linen are used as straps for bags. Jute webbings are usually used for decorative purposes and for binding edges.
Updated on October 4, 2022 by Sarina Tariq