With a little tool called a bias tape maker, making your own bias binding becomes super easy.
Bias binding is essentially a strip of fabric that has been cut on the bias (i.e. at a 45 degree angle to the fabrics selvedge) and has had both the raw edges folded inwards (see photograph above). Cutting the fabric on the bias gives the fabric more stretch and flexibility, allowing it to be eased around curves, such as necklines or armholes.
Bias binding is a professional, neat and strong method of finishing edges, enclosing the raw edge within the bind and stopping them from fraying. Bias binding is also a great method if you want to personalise your project as you can use contrasting and decorative fabric.
Bias binding can be purchased pre-made in a variety of widths and colours. However, with a little tool called a bias tape maker, it becomes super easy to make your own at home in whatever fabric you wish. Here's how!!
A wrap-up of this how-to
What is a bias tape maker?
A bias tape maker is a small metal and/or plastic sewing tool with a narrow and a wide end. Through the middle of the tool is a guide, or channel, that folds the edges of the fabric inwards as it is fed through, creating your bind (see photograph to the right).
They are available in different sizes depending on the required width of bind - the smaller the tool, the narrower the bias bind, and the larger the tool the wider the bias bind.
Choosing fabric for your bind
Bias binding can be made from the same fabric as your project, or a contrast fabric. There are just a few things I would recommend keeping in mind when choosing a suitable fabric for your bind:
Ensure that the fabric has similar properties to the main fabric: Different fabrics have different properties, and therefore behave in different ways. Choosing fabric for your bind that has a similar composition to your main fabric will help ensure that one fabric isn't more likely to shrink or stretch than the other.
Consider the fabric weight: Binding is going to create bulk as you are working with multiple layers of fabric. Therefore if your main fabric is quite heavy, you may opt for a lighter weight binding. This goes the other way too. If working with a lighter weight or more delicate fabric, a heavier weight bind may alter the way the garment falls.
Consider the colour of the fabric: While binding may only account for a small portion of your overall project, the colour still has the potential to run. Therefore, I recommend pre-washing, and testing the colour fastness of the fabric.
How to create bias tape
1: Create your fabric strip
Width: The general rule is that the width of the bias strip should be four times the desired finished width of the binding. For example, if you are wanting a finished bind of 9mm, then your bias strip will be 9mm x 4 = 36mm.
Length: The length of the bias strip is determined by either the length of the seam or edge you are attaching it to. Once you have measured this, I would recommend adding a couple of centimetres to either end for seam allowance, or for a turn-under.
Bias: Cut the strip of fabric on the bias (i.e. a 45 degree angle to the selvage). An easy way to find a 45 degree angle is by cutting from one corner of a square diagonally across to the other.
2: Insert fabric into bias tape maker
Once the bias strip(s) are created, you need to feed one end of the strip into the wide end of the tape maker, wrong side up, sliding until it pops out the narrow end. If the fabric isn't sliding through easily, you can use the centre channel to guide the fabric though. I tend to gently poke the fabric through using a pin (photograph 1 below).
As the fabric strip begins to come out the narrow end, you will notice that it is folding in on itself (photograph 2 below). This is when I tend to pin the end of the strip to my ironing board just to hold things in place as I gently slide the bias tape maker along the fabric strip, pulling on the small handle (pic 3 below).
3: Press and set the folds
Slide the bias tape maker along the strip of fabric while simultaneously ironing to press and set the folds. Continue until you reach the end of your tape. If you run out of room, simply unpin and shuffle the strip across your ironing board, ironing the next section.
How to sew bias binding
1. Pin binding to fabric
Unfold one edge of the bias binding and pin to the edge of the wrong side of the fabric. I tend to pin in the crease (photograph below) to guie my stitching.
2. Sew binding
Attach the bias binding sewing along the foldline. If your bias strip was 36mm wide, then you are sewing 9mm from the fabric edge. I tend to use an edge-stitching foot on the sewing machine for this step as it allows me to position the foot's guide plate in the fold of the fabric.
Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the seam.
3. Fold the binding in half
Fold the bias binding over the edge of the fabric towards the right side of the garment so that the binding hugs the seam allowance. Pin in place (photograph 1 below). I try to pin in the same position as to where I will be sewing, checking on the underside as I go. This just helps me ensure my stitching will be even on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric.
4. Edge-stitch binding
Sew the bias binding in place, by edge-stitching along the folded edge. I would recommend the edge-stitching foot again for this step, and adjusting the position of the machine needle accordingly.
Please get in touch or leave me a comment. I would love to know if you found this article helpful. Let me know if you have an alternative method of creating bias binding.
Thanks for reading.
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