Creating Perfect Bias Fabric Loops - Threads

Get Threads magazine!

Subscribe Renew Give a Gift

Creating Perfect Bias Fabric Loops

A student of mine was working on a lovely Marfy pattern the other day. She was making a brocade coat dress, and it opened down the center front. While the pattern illustration showed buttonholes and buttons, we decided that loops and buttons would be a cleaner alternative.

Here are a few samples to show you what we did:

We started with strips of bias-cut fabric, making a sample or two to determine just how narrow we wanted the finished loops to be.

The strips are carefully folded and pinned to maintain their bias, then machine stitched. While much of the seam allowance is cut off,  I like to start with reasonably wide strips - I have more fabric to grip and manipulate as I prepare them.

I love to turn loops (and narrow fabric tubes) with a simple loop turner. They do take a little patience to get the hang of, but they allow for a much narrower result than other turning tools.


I've fed the hooked end of the metal loop turner through the fabric tube, keeping the latch in its open position.

Once it's through, I've secured a small bit of fabric in the hook, then I'll seal it into place with the latch. If you look carefully in the photo, you'll see the tip of the latch in its upward position - it will hold the fabric in place as I pull.


I carefully pull it back through – and here's where you have to be patient. Getting started is the hardest part – the fabric tends to lump up inside the tube, so you just have to keep at it until you feel the fabric reverse and things start moving along. And if you haven't gotten a good bite of fabric in the hook, then what you've hooked tends to disintegrate. Just be patient and re-hook it; sometimes you need to re-trim the fabric at the top of the tube to give yourself something firmer to attach the hook to. And once you start to pull the hooked fabric through, be sure to maintain your tension. Otherwise, the hook will become disengaged inside the loop and you'll have to begin the process again. Not fun!


Once the tube is formed (and you can make either one long tube or several shorter ones), I straighten it out and choose tubes of the same thickness.

I pin the tubes to my sleeve board, carefully aligning them so that the stitched edge is along one side. I pin them with some tension (I don't want them to grow once they're on the garment); steam them (don't iron them – they'll get too flat) and leave them to dry.

Once they're dry (it doesn't take long), it's time to sew them to the garment. I've marked my fold line with a row of machine-basting stitches. They'll stay there, eventually covered by the garment's facing. 

I always make a template to guide me, after testing the buttons I'll be using to make sure they go through the loops easily (but not so easily that they'll work their way out). I've positioned the loops so that their seamline is along the inner edge, and I've further oriented them so that the seamline will be invisible once the loops are in their final position on their garment.

And even with the template, I carefully re-measure to make sure everything is even: that the loops are evenly spaced, each of the same height with the loops angled identically.

I pin the loops in place, then tack them down with a few basting stitches.

As I stitch along, I lift the presser foot for an instant before I get to each loop, just in case things have shifted a bit.

The basting's been removed.


The loops are folded into place and gently pressed.


The folded edge with its loops is placed over the underlying fabric and the buttons are sewn into place.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 All

Comments (25)

Onyx147 Onyx147 writes: This is a fantastic way to make loops that are the same size and look really beautiful. Thanks for this project. Things like this never get old. Thanks again.
Posted: 7:35 pm on May 6th

MaddyGranma MaddyGranma writes: I am beginning to have an ah-ha moment as I notice how carefully and carefully the professionals work. Previously I thought that the experts stiched their "wares" swiftly and deftly. I am now noticing that speed is not their tool, care and method are their secret. I now try to slow myself down, measure carefully, and stitch cautiously. Flash and dazzle does not equal beautifully constructed clothing and sewing projects! I'm 65 and still learning!
Posted: 10:12 pm on June 13th

SaraD63 SaraD63 writes: Great tutorial. I'm looking forward to trying this.
Posted: 11:36 am on June 1st

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: to Copywriter - yes, you'd most likely have to hold the facing in place some way - so I'd do a couple of things. I'd catch-stitch the raw edge of the facing to the underlining (if the facing went all the way to a princess seam, then I'd catch-stitch it to that), and I'd also do some understitching along the inside edge of the center front folds - again, through to the underlining. That would help hold things in place, and it would also nicely define the front edges.
Posted: 11:08 am on May 30th

SusanKhalje SusanKhalje writes: for mo12 -
If you're using these sorts of loops for a laced-up back - and you certainly can - you'll want to be sure that the bodice itself is sturdy. There's so much horizontal tension that you may need to counteract it with vertical support, in the form of boning along the looped edges - it's easy enough to hide it in an inside layer. And be sure that your machine stitches really grab the ends of the loops - make your stitches really small.
Posted: 8:59 pm on May 29th

mo12mo mo12mo writes: wonderful instructions, as usual. I assume if you want to make loops on both sides of a closing in order to do lacing, it would be the same...?...right? Or is extra reinforcement needed to account for the tension of the lacings?
Posted: 4:26 pm on May 29th

Sewista Sewista writes: Wonderful tutorial! Your expertise is always appreciated as well as inspirational. Thanks!
Posted: 7:00 am on May 28th

PatriciaEllen PatriciaEllen writes: Wow, thank you for this very informative presentation! It is a very timely one for me, too as I needed a fresh idea for a project that I am working on.
Patty Branton
Posted: 8:59 pm on May 27th

littlemissprim littlemissprim writes: lots of work.. but worth it! beautiful result... thanks for the reminder! lovely
Posted: 3:06 pm on May 27th

SeaSprite SeaSprite writes: Thank you very much for sharing this well presented tutorial.
I enjoy your articles and appreciate the beautiful workmanship that you are showing us how to achieve in our own sewing.

The end product is very beautiful and the fancy buttons just finish it off nicely.I love the choice of ivory, sheen and sparkly buttons.

Posted: 6:34 pm on May 26th

Pepita1 Pepita1 writes: Very useful!! First time I found a very clear illustrations and explanations about bias loops. Thank you!
Posted: 9:03 am on May 26th

bgcg bgcg writes: Great way of getting tubes for so many projects for summer. (bag straps, summer tops, adding different colors of tubes on a tshirt for collars and cuffs, and etc.) This past year I took a class on making tube bracelet by braiding very small tubes in Irish knots. My grandchildren will love making the tubes and braiding them. Thanks for the quick tip.
Posted: 10:39 pm on May 25th

Donna_R Donna_R writes: I don't know if I had a ah ha moment or a DUH moment. But cutting the bias larger to work with then cutting down after sewing the seam is so smart. Thanks so much for the instructions. For so long I have been trying to sew these skinny little strips. I love Threads Magazine and Threads site. Thanks for all your help all the time!
Posted: 9:43 pm on May 25th

Soucieville Soucieville writes: Loops are great for dressing up a project. I have used a double needle, or run the stiching close to the first, then trim the edge of the tube before turning it. That way there is less fabric to pull through. Also, I often have sewn a piece of string inside of the tube, stiching across the end to secure the string. Then use the string to turn the tube inside out. Thank my Mom for that one.
Posted: 5:19 pm on May 25th

zedemel zedemel writes: Nice presentation. The same bias tubes can be used as spaghetti straps on a dress, or in many other ways. There is one more important thing to do, especially if intended for use as dress straps, or other places where the strap may be subjected to strain: Be sure to sew the straps in a stretched position - stretched to the max! This way there will be enough thread in the strap if it's so strained as to be stretched to its fullest. In this case, do press them flat, and allow to cool while pinned in a stretched position.
Posted: 5:06 pm on May 25th

ustabahippie ustabahippie writes: Beautiful, and so clear. I love having this link to share with my beginning and intermediate sewing students. Thanks.
Posted: 4:34 pm on May 25th

Whitewolfwoman Whitewolfwoman writes: Thank you sooo much for the bias fold fabric loops directions! I really appreciate it very much. Jackie B
Posted: 3:38 pm on May 25th

kimdesigns kimdesigns writes: You never cease to impress me with your perfection Susan. I sure miss your TV show!
Posted: 1:54 pm on May 25th

swatkick swatkick writes: this is GREAT, thanks for sharing...
[please post picture of finished garment too, next time!]
Posted: 1:46 pm on May 25th

Camielle Camielle writes: I like your loop idea; so much easier than fooling around with buttonholes.
Posted: 1:27 pm on May 25th

Charilu Charilu writes: Thank you for sharing! I have one of those hooks,never new what they were for. That alone made it worth while. thanks again.
Posted: 11:47 am on May 25th

copywriterMT copywriterMT writes: Yummy buttons, that really stand out with loops vs. buttonholes. Did you have to secure the under layer some other way, since it wouldn't be held as securely as with standard buttonholes and buttons?
Posted: 11:07 am on May 25th

BeverlyT BeverlyT writes: I have already used a heavy duty needle like a darning needle(but the point is dull and doesn't work on a lot of fabrics) or a carpet needle to turn small tubes. Thread the needle with heavy thread (like crochet cotton0, double the thread, take a stitch in one end of the tube and make a secure knot at the end of the thread. Then put the needle through the tube starting with the eye. Of course, your thread has to be longer than the tube. Now pull the thread through the tube to turn it.
Posted: 11:01 am on May 25th

Nannysc Nannysc writes: Thank you for sharing such detailed instructions with excellent photos, helping to clearly understand. What a beautiful result, too! Thanks again!!!
Posted: 10:45 am on May 25th

triangles triangles writes: Absolutely wonderful presentation. Thanks so much Susan K. from another Marylander.
Posted: 10:34 am on May 25th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.