How to make celtic bias tape designs

Updated February 21, 2017

Celtic artwork is best known as decorative knots and braids on illuminated manuscripts and church buildings created by medieval Celtic artists, although the intertwined loops and braids were used even earlier. Celtic knots and braids now adorn any number of things, but in fibre arts are most often found on quilts, clothing and home decor items. Narrow bias tape can be arranged and sewn in a Celtic knot or border to enliven a quilt, pillow or clothing piece.

Choose a Celtic design for your project. Designs can be found in books or on the Web. A simple three-strand braid design makes a nice border for a pillow or down the front of a vest, for example. Keep it simple for your first attempt.

Trace the pattern onto regular tracing paper with an iron-on transfer pencil, found in craft and fabric stores. If you do not wish to transfer a mirror image, turn the tracing paper over and pencil over the design on that side.

Place the tracing paper on your fabric, transfer side down, and use an iron on the wool setting to transfer the design onto your fabric. Work slowly, checking to be sure the design is adhering to the fabric. These markings wash out later.

Use 1/4-inch fusible bias tape to create the braid, following your design marks. In most Celtic designs, the lines of braids and knots cross. Carefully note the location of these intersections, and whether the tape is to go under or over. Pin the bias tape to the background fabric.

Fuse the tape to the fabric with a hot iron.

Sew a stitch down the fused bias tape. Sew a straight stitch down the middle of the tape, turning the material slowly and smoothly on the curves. You can also use a decorative stitch, such as a blanket or zigzag stitch. An embroidery machine has even more stitch options.


Some advanced designers create their own Celtic designs using graph paper. Research illuminated manuscripts for authentic Celtic designs and inspiration. Use purchased bias tape or create your own. Touch up your design on the fabric with a chalk marker or water-soluble fabric marker. You can also trace simple designs onto the fabric with dressmaker's carbon and a tracing wheel. If the fabric is transparent enough, use a fabric marker, chalk or fabric crayons to copy the design onto it. You can also create a free-standing Celtic design of bias tape to attach to cuffs, collars or pockets.


Be sure the design you copy is not an original under copyright. You can purchase books at craft stores with designs you are free to use.

Things You'll Need

  • Tracing paper
  • Iron-on transfer pencil
  • Iron
  • Fabric
  • ¼-inch fusible bias tape
  • Straight pins
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About the Author

Margaret Mills has been writing for more than 30 years, focusing on articles about religion, forestry, gardening and crafts. Her work has appeared in religious periodicals including "Focus on the Family" and similar publications. Mills has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northwest Nazarene University.