I’m working on producing a library of sewing tutorials for Maven Patterns.
They will all be here in one place, updated to keep relevant with each new pattern release and covering every technique on a pattern by pattern basis.
That way you can look up new stuff if you want to, do your own thing, or do what I do…look it up and then do my own thing anyway,
because there is always more than one good way to sew anything 😉
It will also help to keep the Maker Instructions with each pattern concise, clear and relevant. You only need to learn how to do binding once, what you don’t need is a massive pattern file on your computer taking up space!
So in support of my next pattern, here is a lovely big binding tutorial! (If you just want to know How to Sew your binding CLICK HERE for the condensed tutorial.)
Bias binding is a great way to finish the raw edge of a garment. It is hugely versatile and can be used on necklines, armholes, hems, pretty much anywhere really. You can buy ready made binding from your local haberdashery shop or make your own and use up some of those scraps!
There are really two types of binding for our purposes:
DOUBLE BIAS BINDING is on show from the right side of the garment and can be decorative if made in a contrasting fabric.
SINGLE BIAS BINDING: It can be used in lieu of a facing on an armhole or neckline, and apart from a row of topstitching, only be seen on the inside.
STEP 1: PREPARE BINDING
If you are using a Maven Pattern, I always include a pattern piece for each bias strip needed so just use that and be sure to follow the grainline as it must be cut on the BIAS GRAIN of your fabric.
TO CUT YOUR OWN BIAS BINDING:
Your strips need to be cut on the bias grain of your cloth, so they will stretch around curves (armholes, necklines etc) and lay flat once stitched.
(There are times to use binding cut on the straight grain, usually for the edges of quilts, but if in doubt cut on the bias.)
TIP: If my fabric is a little unstable I’ll either tape it to the table to stop it moving, or pin the fabric to paper, at the marking stage before cutting the strips.
First you will need to find the TRUE BIAS (often just referred to as the bias grain) of the fabric. The bias of the fabric runs at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise grain (along the selvedge) and the crosswise grain (the width of the cloth).
To find the true bias: square off one end of your fabric. Fold the fabric diagonally so the crosswise grain is parallel to the selvedge/lengthwise grain (forming a triangle shape as above). Press the fabric along this fold to mark the bias grain.
Open the fabric out and using your pressed line as a guide, mark out your bias strips to your desired width, keeping them parallel to your fold line.
Your strips need to be 4 times your finished width, I usually find cutting 4cm wide for a finished binding of 1cm works well. Cut as many bias strips as you need to complete your project. You can mark with a fabric marker pen, but if you are careful and mark on the reverse of your cloth, I’ve found a pencil or ballpoint pen works well as they give an accurate line and you don’t lose your marks too quickly. But do make sure you do a test first!
To join to ends of binding together (or separate pieces if you need a long continuous strip)
Lay your binding strips on top of each other with Right sides together and at 90 degree angle to each other.
Stitch across the diagonal to join as shown in the picture.
Trim away the excess to leave a 6mm seam allowance and press this seam open.
To finish the sleeve hem on The French Dart Shift Dress, or to bind an armhole, you will need to make a loop of binding as above. I like to join first and then press my bias strip into binding. I use a sleeve board at the pressing stage to help so it’s not too fiddly, BUT if you are using a BIAS TAPE MAKER TOOL you will need to make your binding and then join it.
ALTERNATE JOINING / FINISHING METHOD:
This is an easy way to join your bias binding, especially if you are not sure of your finished measurement so can’t pre join together before stitching to your garment….
Fold back starting edge by 1cm to wrong side of binding and then pin binding into place aligning the raw edges of garment with the raw edge of the binding and with right sides facing together.
Continue to pin binding along edge of garment, and then at the join lay the binding directly on top of your starting point and trim so that it overlaps by 1cm.
Stitch into place and finish as described in the ” How to sew bias binding instructions below”
You will create a neat little overlapping finish. It is suitable for many fabrics but you may find this method a little bulky for thicker ones – then it is preferable to use the diagonal stitch method discussed above.
PRESS: Now you’ve cut your binding and if necessary joined your binding, it’s time to press your strips so they look like binding…
Take your length of binding, fold in half and press. Unfold and refold each outside edge to meet your centre fold and press.
Fold it all back together and press flat firmly but don’t stretch it.
Alternatively use the handy BIAS TAPE MAKER gadget…
The handy little gadget that is the bias making tool can be incredibly useful, especially if you are making a lot of binding. Just pull your pre-cut binding through the tool and it will fold it ready for you to press into perfect binding. They come in different sizes, so you can just pick the one that will give you the width you want.
If you google how to sew binding you get 833,000 results…this is my way…feel free to tweak and find what works best for you!
Take your prepared binding and pin RIGHT side of binding to the RIGHT side of garment aligning the raw edges together. Machine stitch along the fold.
TIP: if you are binding a thicker fabric or a few layers of fabric, take a smaller seam allowance so you have extra binding where you need it to help accommodate that extra bulkiness.
Press binding AWAY from the garment.
Wrap binding over to the raw edge to WRONG side of garment, and position the folded edge of binding so your machine stitching is covered by a few millimetres. Pin to hold. Tack right on the edge of the binding to hold into place – ensure you catch all the binding on the reverse side and just cover the machine stitch while keeping an even distance away from the binding on the front. Take your time to get this right now, the tack line will be a guide to your topstitching!
TWO OPTIONS TO FINISH:
OPTION 1: EDGE STITCH ON THE BINDING
Top stitch the binding to finish: with the right side of your garment facing you, edge stitch on the binding and as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking stitch and you know you’ve caught the back of the binding!
OPTION 2: STITCH IN THE DITCH
If you don’t want your stitching to show on your binding try this method…finish your binding by stitching in the ditch (also known as sink stitch).
‘Stitch in the ditch’ is a really useful technique to know, good for finishing waistbands as well as bindings and also the neckline of The French Dart Shift (coming soon!). When stitched in the same colour as your main fabric the stitch line practically disappears as it settles into the seam.
Position your machine needle in line with the groove (the ditch) of the seam, you are going to stitch right in that ditch, NEXT to the binding but not on it. And as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking thread, you know you’ve caught your binding on the back 🙂
Just remove your tacking thread, and you’re done!
This isn’t everybody’s method. This is the method I was taught by a sample machinist I worked with about 20 years ago, she called it the Cheat Method.
PRESS: Just fold your binding in half and press.
ATTACH: Line up the raw edges of your binding with the raw edge of your garment, with right sides together.
Stitch with seam allowance to attach.
Press binding and seam allowances away from garment. Understitch (machine stitch an edge stitch through all the layers on the binding close to the seam.) The understitching is an optional step, there won’t be a disaster without it, but it does make the binding roll to the wrong side better and I think it makes the binding stronger.
Tack along the edge of the binding to hold in place, this will also give you a guide line for your next row of stitching.
Flip your garment over and topstitch with the right side up. If you stitch inside your tacking line so you know that you will catch all the binding!
(You can make narrower binding if you prefer…simple bit of maths… finished width of binding + seam allowance, x 2 = cutting width of binding.)
I liked the method because it was quick and that binding NEVER frayed no matter how much I washed those garments (kids clothes), must have been the combination of a folded edge and the extra understitching – great for linen fabrics. I’ve used this many times over the years instead of a having a flappy facing. The only drawback is some fabrics are just too bulky, but just bind anything too thick with a contrasting fabric and make a feature of the inside!