There are many types of tapes used in sewing. They all serve their purposes, some of them can help you with making your seam stronger, some of them fasten things and some of them are simply beautiful and can be used as an embellishment.
What is a sewing tape?
Sewing tape is a material, supply or tool used in garment making. Sewing tape can serve a functional or decorative purpose as well as helping with garment assembly.
Bias tape is one of the most popular ones. This cloth tape is used for finishing raw edges, seam binding and piping. Bias tape is simply a strip of fabric that is cut on bias grain (diagonally across the fabric) of the fabric. Because it is cut on a 45 degrees angle it makes the tape way much more stretchier and gives the end product more plasticity, thus making it more durable. You can cut bias tape yourself from any fabric or buy a pre-cut and folded one.
You can buy simple bias tape, single fold tape, and double fold tape.
Simple bias tape
This type of tape is precut but not folded.
Single fold bias tape
This type of tape has both raw edges folded towards the center of the strip one time.
Double fold bias tape
This type of tape has both raw edges folded towards the center of the strip one time (same as single fold) and then folded in half creating a double fold.
You can also get a bias binding foot for your sewing machine that folds and stitches the bias tape as you sew. When using bias binding food you can either buy precut simple bias binding tape or cut your own tape from fabric. If you cut your own bias tape don’t forget to cut it on the bias of the fabric, otherwise it will lose its function. Bias binding foot is a useful tool if you want your bias tape to be more unique. However it does not work in some cases, like when using heavier fabrics. Heavy fabric can not always go through the foot and can get stuck.
Blanket Binding Ribbon / Blanket Binding Tape
Satin blanket binding ribbon is usually woven fabric tape that is around 2’(5cm) wide and is folded in half. This tape has clean finished edges and comes in a variety of colors and prints.
It is used for creating a case for a blanket edge. Usually this ‘’ribbon’’ has a stable weave and does not stretch, therefore should only be used on straight edges that do not require any stretchiness. This tape comes in a variety of colors and prints.
These are decorative tapes that are made by interlacing strands of yarn or other flexible material. There are several types of braided tapes:
Middy braid tape
Middy braid tape is narrow flat braided tape, that is a decorative ‘’top’’ trim most used by applying several parallel rows on the fabric, and can often be seen in nautical inspired clothing designs.
Rick rack tape
Rick rack tape is a narrow flat braided tape resembling a zigzag. It is used to decorate clothing and curtains.
Soutache / Russia braid tape -
Soutache / Russia braid tape is made from two parallel cords that have decorative threads braided around them. It is often used in tapestry, jewelry and can be found on decorated uniforms.
Loop / Fingerloop braid tape -
These braided tapes are strong decorative tapes that are made by handweaving (industrially with a machine) multiple cords. They come in different sizes, shapes and colors. Depending on a type, they can be used to decorate, as cord for a hood of the garment or even a shoestring.
Elastic Tape / Elastic Band
Elastic band is a stretchy tape that can be used in many ways. Elastic bands come in different widths, shapes and colors. They can be braided, woven, knitted and made out of different materials. You can even find elastic bands with integrated buttonholes or buttons attached.
Repair Tape / Fix Tape
Repair or emergency fix tape is an adhesive washaway tape, that has many uses in sewing:
Keeping two fabric pieces together while stitching.
Keeping trims, appliques, pockets, buttons in place while sewing.
Stabilizing stretchy fabrics.
Can be used instead of pins.
Eyelet tape is a tape with multiple grommets. The width of the tape ranges from very thin with small grommets to very wide with grommets that can be around 4’ (10 cm) wide. It is used on textile items that need to be laced up (like corsets, blouses, belts) or to be put on a bar (like curtains).
Fringe Trim Tape
Fringe tape is decorative trim that has tassels hanging from one edge. It is usually sewn on the edge of the textile item (like pillows, flags, drapery, jackets, costumes). It can be made from different materials like silk, cotton, leather etc. Tassels can be created from twisted cords, cut strips of leather or even hanging loose threads. There are few popular types of fringe tapes:
Bullion fringe has tassels made out of twisted yarns or cords, they can vary in length, thickness, texture and color.
Tassel fringe, also called campaign fringe, has small bell shaped tassels.
Thread fringe consists of loose warp threads that are left untwisted and unbraided.
Beaded fringe is made of beaded tassels, or tassels made out of beads and usually is quite heavy.
Leather fringe is made out of a leather strip that has multiple parallel cuts on one side creating leather tassels. This type of fringe can be made from real or faux leather.
Feather fringe can be made out of various birds feathers.
Pom Pom Fringe
Pom pom fringe is a tape with multiple small pom pom balls hanging from one side.
Fringe tape is a popular fashion tape and can be reinvented from various materials. For example you can find the most interesting things like, guipure fringe, lace fringe, embroidery fringe, even metal chain or shell fringe.
Frill tape is a decorative cloth tape made of gathered or pleated material. These are often used as a trim when sewing garments and can be attached either on the edge of a garment or in between two panels.
Gimp Trim Tape
Gimp itself is a thick decorative thread used to decorate in sewing and embroidery. Usually made out of silk, wool, polyester or cotton and in most cases has a metallic thread running inside it, making it stiffer. This thread can either be incorporated into a decorative motif or made into a decorative trim itself. One of the most common trims from gimp is gimp braid tape which is used to decorate curtains, pillows or upholstery. Gimp braid tape can be found in many colors, shapes, in various widths and intricacies.
Hem Tape / Hemming Tape
Hemming tape is adhesive tape that is used to keep the folded hem in place without cutting or stitching. There are many types of hem tapes, some of them stick to fabric by ironing them on, some by steaming, some don’t even need heat and are sticky by themselves. It is a great temporary solution when the length of the garment will be adjusted in the future. Hemming tape can also be used to hold other garment elements in place before stitching (like apliques and decorative tapes). You can find hem tape that holds the fabric temporarily or you can find permanent hem tape.
Hook and Eye Tape
This tape usually consists of a pair of tapes, from which one part comes with small incorporated hooks and other with loops (eyes). This tape is largely used on lingerie (bras, bustiers or corsets) and sometimes when making other garments like pants, vests or gowns. Hook and eye tapes come in multiple sizes and colors.
Horsehair Braid Tape
Horsehair braid is a stiff netted tape made out of polyester. Essentially this tape is used to add structure and strength to more delicate fabric. It has many uses, but most commonly is sewn to the hem of the dress, thus giving a more elegant and full shape. You can also find it on the hems of the sleeves, collars, or even hat making.
Interfacing Tape / Edge Tape
Interfacing tape is made from the same material as interfacing. It is a handy tape, when sewing hems, cuffs, plackets, collars and only a narrow strip of interfacing is needed. You can find different types for knit and for woven garments, as well as the different widths of the tape. You can also cut your own tape from interfacing fabric.
Lace, Guipure and Embroidered Tapes
Lace and embroidered tapes are beautiful decorative tapes that are made either from lace itself, or are embroidered on fabric. These intricate tapes come in all kinds of shapes, colors and can be made from various materials.
Lace Seam Binding Tape
Lace seam binding tape is a decorative stretchy tape that is used to finish hems on knit fabrics, or curved edges. Because of its stretchiness it can be sewn to most difficult curves and give a neat finish.
Piping Tape / Welting Tape
Piping tape is a tape made out of cord that is covered with fabric. Usually this tape is sewn into a seam in between two fabrics with the fabric covered cord facing outside. Piping is mostly used to characterize the seams or style lines. Piping can be found on various textile items, like pillows, furniture, around garment edges, pockets, next to the zippers, etc.
Quilting Tape / Quilters Tape
Quilters tape is a light adhesive tape used as a guiding tool. The tape leaves no residue, therefore is safe to use on both sides of the fabric. It can be used as a precision tool, when high accuracy is needed.
Ready-Made Fabric Tape
This is a decorative fabric tape that can be used as a trim (bow, tie, strap). These tapes come in different widths, colors, prints and can be made from different materials.
Ribbon is a thin band of decorative material that can be used to make a bow, tie, decorative strap, jewelry, ribbon embroidery and for other purposes. They can be made out of cotton, silk, jute, polyester, polypropylene, nylon fibers. Ribbons can be also made out of some popular fabrics like organza, satin, velvet, grosgrain. Ribbons are popular trims in sewing, but can also be used as an accessory when creating an outfit.
Seam Binding Tape
Seam binding tape is a slightly stiff, single layer, woven ribbon that does not stretch and is applied to provide extra strength to the seam and a clean finished look. It can be made from cotton, polyester and rayon. Seam binding tape should not be confused with bias binding tape. Bias binding tape is cut on bias, is stretchy, and in most cases is folded prior sewing.
Term seam tape can refer to two types of tapes - Seam sealing tape or Seam basting tape.
Seam Sealing Tape
Seam sealing tape is a synthetic tape that is used when sewing waterproof garments. This tape is glued on the seams thus sealing the gaps between stitching and preventing water from soaking in. You can find different types of seam sealing tapes used for different products:
Single Layer Seam Sealing Tape
Single layer seam sealing tape is mostly used in lightweight or medium weight waterproof clothing that requires a lot of flexibility and stretch.
Double Layer Seam Sealing Tape
Double layer seam sealing tape is mostly used on jackets and high performance outdoor garments to prevent water and wind penetration.
Triple Layer Seam Sealing Tape
Triple layer seam sealing tapes are used on a heavyweight wear and provide maximum durability. They can be found on military garments, medical wear, waterwar (dry and wet suits) and in the automotive industry (for sealing seams of car seats).
Basting tape, also called seam tape or seamstick tape is an adhesive double sided tape that comes in a roll (like duck tape, scotch tape or painters tape) and is used for basting the panels prior to sewing. This tape is used instead of pins or basting / tacking stitch and is attached to the seam allowance in between two panels. This tape also adds water resistance to your seams by sealing the needle holes. When used instead of tacking stitch this tape is a fast and useful way to hold panels before stitching and adds a neat, finished look to the garment. However, a lot of basting tapes leave a glue residue or gumming on your machine needle or scissors. That can be prevented by running your machine needle or scissor blades through a bar of soap.
Snap Button Tape
Snap button tape has snap buttons attached to it and consists of two parts (one with studs, other with sockets). These tapes come in different widths, snap sizes and colors. The snaps can either be made from plastic or metal.
Stay tape is mostly used to prevent fabric edges from fraying, from stretching when sewing, and from losing shape (around necklines and armholes). Stay tape is applied on a raw edge of the fabric. This tape is lightweight, and can be found in fusible and non fusible options. This tape can also be made at home from interfacing fabrics.
Stitch tape has glue on both sides and is used instead of a sewing machine to create a ‘’seam’’. Much like fusible interfacing most stitch tapes are heat activated. This fusible tape is often used when making costumes and other textile items that do not require durability (like hems of the curtains).
These are tapes with fasteners already attached to them. Tapes with fasteners are quite convenient, because they are premade and save some time on your sewing project.
Herringbone Tape / Twill Tape
This is a strong flat herringbone twill weave tape that is usually made from cotton, linen, wool or polyester, and comes in different colors and widths. This tape is used to reinforce seams, armholes, necklines, binding edges, as garment ties and in other cases where sturdiness and reinforcement is needed.
Velcro Tape / Hook and Eye Tape / Hook and Loop Tape
Velcro tape consists of two parts that are attached to each other when pressed together. One part of the tape has multiple small fluffy loops and other parts multiple small hooks. When pressed together the hooks catch the loops and sticks together, until pulled apart. Most commonly this tape is made from polyester and can be found on jackets, backpacks, shoes and outdoor garments. Textile items made with velcro fasteners are easy and fast to close and open.
This is an extra strong woven tape that can be made from many fibers, and vary in width and color. This tape is mostly used as a rope, for straps or handles.
There are other types of tapes that you will definitely get a use from if you have them in your sewing studio. These are the tapes that aren’t used directly on the item you make but are definitely useful in your sewing project.
Measuring Tape / Tape Measure
Sewing tape measure is one of most useful sewing tools. It is a flexible long plastic tape with measurements indicated on it. Most commonly these tapes have measurements in centimeters on one side and in inches on the other side. Measuring tapes often come in either 150 cm / 59 in or 200 cm / 78 in. This handy and compact sewing tool is useful when measuring the human body, fabrics, materials or garments.
Masking Tape / Painters Tape
These are paper tapes that are easy to remove and leave no glue residue. They work great when working with or making paper patterns.
Packing Tape / Duct Tape / Scotch Tape
These tapes can be made from plastic or paper. These are not so much used in sewing projects themselves, but can be handy from time to time when working in your sewing studio.