Washi Tape + Sewing | Top tips and hacks

I love a good sewing hack and I also love cute stationery so washi tape is a must-have for my quilting supplies stash.

Washi tape is one of my favourite non-sewing sewing tools. There are so many uses for this pretty, paper sticky tape. It is much more affordable than it once was, and you’ll probably find that a lot of your favourite sewing shops stock a selection.
I get most of my mine from PatternTrace because they have a great choice and also stock lots of other fab crafting supplies.

So here are my top four uses for washi tape. There are loads more, of course, but these are the ones I use most often…

Seam Allowance

Most sewing machines have the commonly used seam allowances marked (¼”, ½” etc) but they are usually quite small and with very short lines. It’s much easier to keep a straight line of sewing and an even seam allowance if you have a longer line to follow and use as your guide. This is where washi tape comes in! Stick it down your machine to create a long guide line; use a quilting ruler and your needle position to get the tape in exactly the right place. You can have the tape guide so that the right or left edge is you’re guide…that is personal preference. My example uses the left edge of the tape for my ¼” seam allowance guide. As washi tape is paper-based, it is easy to peel off your machine when it is not needed and you may be able to use the same piece several times.

Washi tape sewing machine seam allowance guide

Ruler Markings

Quilting rulers are an incredibly useful tool but they can be expensive; buying lots so you have a variety of sizes and markings isn’t always possible. If you are cutting lots of the same size pieces you’ll be more efficient if it’s very easy to see the size you need to cut; with lots of different size markings on one ruler this isn’t always clear at a quick glance. This is where washi tape comes in! Stick your tape onto the top surface of your ruler (the side that doesn’t touch the fabric) to help emphasise whichever lines you are using…this could be down the full width of the ruler if you are sub-cutting or in a square/rectangle to highlight a particular sized shape. Diagonal lines can also be very useful on a quilting ruler but not all brands include them; you can also use washi tape to add these. My example uses a washi tape square so that I can trim half square triangles down to 3″ quickly and easily.

Washi tape quilting ruler markings

Applique

Hand appliqué is a lovely “on the sofa” sewing task but I always seem to accidentally stab myself with the pins I use to hold the appliqué pieces in place. This is where washi tape comes in! I will start by saying that I wouldn’t recommend using this for all fabric types. I mostly work with quilting cotton and washi tape doesn’t cause any issues with that (or at least it hasn’t anytime I have used it) but anything with a textured surface like felt could be more of a problem because it will either not stick properly or if it does stick, peeling off the tape may fluff up the surface. But if you are using a smooth fabric then this could be a useful hack to try. As this is the first tip I’ve suggested that involves sticking directly onto fabric, I would suggest doing a quick “test stick” on a scrap or spare corner of fabric to make sure your washi tape isn’t going to leave any marks (I have never had this happen but it’s worth checking to be safe) and I wouldn’t leave the tape in place for any great length of time for the same reason. As you can see from my example, you can use small pieces of washi tape instead of pins to hold your appliqué pieces onto your background fabric/project. You’ll probably be able to reposition the tape a couple of times before they lose their stick.

Washi tape instead of pins on a hand appliqué project

Replacing pins again

Another way I use washi tape to replace pins is when I’m using fabric or material that don’t really like pins. Most pins will go through materials like vinyl and leather but they will leave a little hole that you can’t get rid of and this won’t look great on your finished project. This is where washi tape comes in! Use pieces of tape to hold your vinyl (for example) in place and then peel off once you have sewn. Washi tape is also great for these sort of materials because sometimes sewing machines struggle to pull the plastic texture through and it can stick to your machine foot, get caught and cause bunched-up or skipped stitches. Use a long strip of washi tape and sewing right through it (your sewing machine will move more easily over the tape) and then carefully peel away when you’ve finished.

Washi tape instead of pins on vinyl

I hope you find my top four uses for washi tape helpful. I think this pretty, paper sticky tape is a fantastic addition to any sewing stash; affordable, easy to find and lots of different uses makes washi tape an invaluable non-sewing sewing tool!


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