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What is Quilter's Tape?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Jan 26, 2024

Quilter's tape is an adhesive tape designed for use by quilters, although it has other potential applications as well. The tape is designed to hold quilting projects together while they are being worked on, allowing the quilter to concentrate on making tight, even stitches. Many fabric supply stores sell quilter's tape, along with other tools which make quilting much easier. Other tapes can be used as substitutes, but they may leave unsightly or sticky residue, which is not desired.

As a general rule, quilter's tape is one sided, and the adhesive is formulated so that it should not leave a residue. It comes in a variety of colors, designed to make it stand out against different colored fabrics, and the standard width is one quarter inch, or around half a centimeter. If the tape is left on too long, or exposed to extreme conditions like damp and heat, a small amount of residue may be left behind, but this is unusual.

In addition to being used almost like glue, quilter's tape can also be a guide. Some quilters follow the line of the tape while they are quilting to ensure that their stitches are straight. It can also be used like a measuring tool, to ensure that seams are even and stitches are separated by an appropriate distance. Some companies have recognized that quilters like to use the tape as a guide, and they have marked the tape at intervals so that it can be used as a stitch guide, ensuring that stitches are the same distance apart in hand quilting.

The adhesive in quilter's tape is often designed to allow the quilter to reuse the tape, moving it as needed while he or she works on a project. This flexibility reduces waste, and saves time as well, since quilters do not have to constantly cut fresh pieces of tape. Like most tapes, quilter's tape comes in a large roll. Since the end can sometimes be challenging to find, some quilters like to fold a small corner of the end under, forming a tab to easily grip. This trick can be used with other types of adhesive tape as well.

People who are not into quilting can still find a use for this tape. It makes an excellent narrow guide for painting and stenciling projects, for example. Since quilter's tape is designed to lift easily without leaving a residue, it can be peeled away from painting projects without the risk of cracking or tearing the paint.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By seag47 — On Oct 29, 2011

@Oceana - The lack of residue from quilter’s tape is one of its main draws. I use it for holding several different things in place temporarily where stickiness would be unacceptable.

I carry a large purse with more than I will probably ever need in it, and quilter’s tape is one of the things I carry around. When my office ran out of sticky notes one day and I had several messages to deliver to people who were out of the office, I used regular copier paper, scissors, and quilter’s tape to make my own.

I taped the notes to the tops of computer monitors, desk surfaces, and telephones. I imagine that people were momentarily upset about a note being taped to their monitors, but since it left no sticky glue behind, they never complained to me.

By Oceana — On Oct 28, 2011

I like how narrow quilter’s tape is, because it allows me to create stripes on photo frames with slender spaces between them. I have some quilter’s tape that is 1/4 inch wide, and I have another roll that is only 1/8 inch wide.

I design and sell wooden photo frames. People have really gravitated toward my pastel striped frames, which were made possible by quilter’s tape.

Painting the stripes while trying to use a ruler as a guide would have been awkward and nearly impossible. The tape sticks to the wood until I am ready to remove it, and it leaves the surface as clean as it found it.

By cloudel — On Oct 28, 2011

I am short, so I often have to hem up pants that I buy. I prefer to do it myself rather than take them to a seamstress, but I do have a little help with keeping the stitches straight.

I put quilter’s tape all the way around the inside of the fold before I start stitching. This holds the material in place, keeping me from sewing it lopsided without realizing I’m off a little bit.

The pants I have hemmed with the tape have been much more even than the ones I worked on before I discovered this wonderful stuff. Now, I will not hem without it.

By orangey03 — On Oct 27, 2011

I use quilter’s tape when doing acrylic paintings. I often get requests to do paintings of certain buildings or houses, and I have to have a straight edge to follow, or else the painting won’t look realistic and professional.

First, I use a yard stick to measure points at equal distances from the edges along the line of the building. Then, I make small marks with a pencil on the canvas.

I stretch quilter’s tape between the marks, and I get a straight guideline. I would just draw a line with my pencil, but if I’m using a light color of paint, the line could potentially show through the paint. With quilter’s tape, no evidence of guidance is left behind.

By bagley79 — On Oct 27, 2011

I am not a quilter, but have a good friend who is, and she gave me a great suggestion for using quilter's tape.

I was getting ready to stencil a border around my bedroom and was looking for a way to do this that might save me some time and the measurements would be straight.

One other time I completed a stenciling project only to discover when I was almost done that it slanted slightly up, and was not even all the way around.

The only thing you can do is either live with it, or paint over it and start again. I wanted to get it done right the first time for this project.

The quilter's tape was a perfect solution. My border ended up being straight and even all the way around. This was such an easy, inexpensive solution and I thanked my friend many times for the suggestion.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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