Sunday, 7 April 2013

How to make and use bias binding

My Daughter and I need to complete her lovely orange dress. I’d decided to use bias binding at the neckline. As I don’t have a fancy bias binding maker as demonstrated on the Great British Sewing Bee, I’ll have to make it the old fashioned way.
How to make bias binding.
Rectangle of fabric
First take a rectangle of fabric cut on the straight grain. I use the selvedge edge as my long edge, which helps line up the fabric. I’m using the same fabric as the dress as I want the binding to match – you could always use a contrasting colour if you wished.
Marking the strips
Mark the fabric with tailor’s chalk of a special water-soluble pen designed for fabric. The lines should be drawn at a 45-degree angle to the selvedge edge and no less than 1 inch (2.5cm) wide. A clear quilting ruler is ideal for keeping an even width between the lines. You could also apply inch wide masking tape to the fabric and remove once the strips are cut. Personally I use the width of my metre ruler, as I find it gives the perfect finished width to the bias strips.
Cut the strips.
Pin strips together
If you need a long piece of bias binding you will need to join several lengths together. You need to join to create a straight length with even edges.  Pin the strips together at the end, creating a V shape as shown in the photograph. The ends should overlap in such a way as to create small triangles at either end. This will ensure that your bias strip has a straight edge. Stitch and secure with a backstitch.
Sew strips together
 Press the seam open and trim the seam allowance.
Press open and trim seam
 As bias binding often encloses the raw edge of another piece of fabric it is folded in half and its raw edges are enclosed.  To do this fold and press the strip in half along its length.
Press the strip in half
The fold after pressing
Open the strip out and fold the edges into meet the centre fold and press. This can be quite fiddly and can take a little practice to get the hang of it. 
Partially pressed strip
Fold along the centre line again and press once more. This completes the bias binding.
Completed bias binding

How and why to use bias binding.

So what’s so special about bias binding?
Bias Binding has a lot more stretch than fabric cut on the straight grain. Just try gently pulling a woven fabric across, then down and then at an angle (bias) and you’ll see what I mean. This means that it will follow curved edges much better and is therefore ideal for necklines, armholes and curved hems.
Bias strips also tend to fray a lot less than the straight grain which makes them ideal for finishing a garment, both on the outside as decorative features and to give a couture finish to the insides of a garment.
I’ll show you just 3 ways to use bias binding to finish a curved edge.
Enclose the raw edge. 
This is the easiest and most straightforward technique. 
Pin through all layers
Simply pin the bias binding to the edge making sure that you pin through all (5) layers of fabric and stitch them together. 
Stitch through all layer
 I’ve used this method when making summer dresses and tops with spaghetti straps.
Summer dress technique
Stitch in the ditch. 
This takes a little more time but will almost hide your stitches. 

open the strip and pin to the curve
Open the bias strip out and pin the first fold (right sides together) to the curved seam. Stitch carefully.

Stitch along the fold line
Fold the rest of the bias binding to the wrong side and ensure the raw edges are enclosed. Pin to cover the stitching.  
fold over and pin through all layer
Stitch from the right side, along the seam line. Using a matching thread will mean the stitched as less obvious. You could also hand stitch from the wrong side to avoid any stitched showing.
stitch in the ditch
Bias facing
This can be used instead of a regular facing. Begin as you did for the stitch in the ditch method, but this time trim the seam allowances to 1/8 inch, fold the bias strip to the wrong side and pin down, enclosing the raw edge. 
Fold all the bias binding to the reverse and pin in place
 Hand stitch using a whipstitch, this should only catch a few threads and very small stitches can be seen on the right side.
Stitch the facing in place
Completed whip stitch from the wrong side
Completed whip stitch from the right side
There are many more ways to use bias binding, but I hope you found this tutorial useful.


  1. Lovely tutorial, thank you for sharing :)

  2. Yay - thank you - I k=now know what bias means. I knew the process but didn't know the meaning until now. Thank you :)

  3. Thank you for this. I am going to bookmark it as I know it will come in really useful. xxx

  4. Lovely tutorial (your stitching is very neat) Thanks for sharing!!

  5. fantastic tutorial, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge! x

  6. It's a pity that the Great British Sewing Bee isn't showing its audience how to do things like make your own bias binding. It's great to see sewing/dressmaking/fitting onvthe tv but ot isn't really much use if you've not sewn before.
    Thank goodness for websites like yours :-)

    1. Thanks Louise. I'm mostly self taught and i learnt a lot of stuff online or by taking clothes to bits top see how they were constructed.

  7. Wow, nbeat work!! I was very impressed by the tool on the Sewing Bee and was considering ebaying one... I've just bookmarked your tutorial instead :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ohhh that is a great tutorial - I've often wondered about bias binding (I understand it in millinery terms, but never tried it on clothes!) and now I think I might be brave enough to have a go! Simmi x

  9. This orange dress look very promising and I'm sure that your daughter will love it. The orange tone is just yummy! Good luck with your next projects!

  10. Thank you for this. This is the clearest and most straightforward demo of bias binding I've come across, and as someone just getting back into sewing, I need all the help I can get!


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