Today's nerdy sewing tip is all about how to make and store bias binding quickly and easily, without the use of any fancy tools or gadgets. In fact, all you will need is:
- your fabric - and this is a great way to use up your scraps!
- masking tape - we used tape that is 1" wide which will result in binding that is 1/2" wide when finished
- fabric scissors
- a pin
- an iron and ironing board
But before we start, what exactly is bias binding??
Well, bias binding, or bias tape, is a narrow length of fabric cut on the "bias", meaning that it has been cut at a 45º angle to the grainline or selvedges. When woven fabric is cut on the bias, it has greater flexibility and stretch than fabric cut on the straight grain. This makes bias binding ideal for finishing off a rounded edge, like a neckline, armholes or curved hemlines, as it can smoothly contour it's way around any shaped edge. You'll often find that tank tops are finished with bias binding, like our Polly Top (free to download here!), and it's also super useful for neatly finishing off excess seam allowances - also known as the Hong Kong finish - and edging pretty much anything, such as quilts, placemats, bunting, you name it.
You can of course, buy pre-made bias binding, but this will be limited to the colours and prints you can find in the shops. If you do it yourself, you can make it from any fabric you happen to be using, allowing your binding to perfectly match (or perfectly clash!) your project. You can also buy fancy bias binding making tools which supposedly help you to fold and press the strips of fabric once they've been cut. I personally find these to be a waste of time and money - they're fiddly and tedious in my opinion and you'd have to have a whole army of different sized bias makers to achieve the different widths of binding for various projects. So, as with most things, it's better to make your own from scratch I say!
Step 1 - Finding the bias
You'll need to begin by identifying the grainline and the bias on your piece of fabric. The grainline runs parallel to the selvedges (the woven edges of the fabric as it comes infinitely off the roll. The bias is at a 45º angle to the grainline.
Step 2 - Taping your fabric
Stick strips of masking tape onto your fabric along the bias, leaving 1-2mm between each strip to allow space for cutting.
Step 3 - Cutting the strips
Carefully cut between the tape until you have a bunch of bias strips.
At this point, you could absolutely roll up your strips - still with the masking tape on to prevent them from stretching or distorting out of shape - and put them away for a rainy day.
Step 4 - Pressing
This is the part where normally you'd be rummaging around for that bias maker which you know you last saw in that little box on the shelf... No need to panic. Just grab yourself a pin (that's right, a pin!) and take your bias strips over to the ironing board.
Using the image below as a guide, insert the pin vertically into the fabric that covers the ironing board. You want the "bridge" of the pin (the part that we'll be feeding the fabric under) to be the width that you want your finished binding to be.
Begin by snipping one end of your binding strip into a point, as this will make it easier to feed under the bridge. Fold over each raw edge of the strip and ease it through the pin. Give it a good press as it comes out the other side.
(Please excuse my manky chipped nail polish in these shots - repainting tonight as soon as I decide on a new colour!)
Once you've eased the first inch or so through, you'll quickly see how easy it is to just pull the strip - gently! - through the pin, pressing as you go.
And there you have it - custom bias binding in minutes. No fancy tools needed. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Update: Do you need to make bias binding that is infinitely long but you can't quite seem to figure out how to join the strips?? Head to our piping tutorial here to see how to join your bias binding strips together.