Bias binding is useful for creating a neat finish on seams that aren’t attached to anything else and don’t have a facing. The bias cut will allow the binding to stretch slightly, which is handy for getting around curves such as armholes and necklines.
Here’s how to make it…
You’ll need a large piece of fabric – a light- to medium-weight woven cotton will be fine. I’m using a Liberty print Tana cotton lawn. You’ll also need a bias binding maker for the method I’m going to show you. You can get these handy tools in different sizes – I’m using a 12mm (1/2in) one (this is an affiliate link), which will make single fold bias binding that is 12mm (1/2in) wide once finished. This size is perfect for binding the armholes on the Etta dress.
If you want to make double fold bias binding, for example to bind a neckline edge where you want the binding to be visible on the outside as well as the inside of a garment, you’ll press the single fold binding in half after it comes out of the maker. So you’ll end up with 6mm (1/4in) wide binding with a 12mm (1/2in) maker.
Fold your fabric on the bias grain, in other words, at a 45° angle to the selvedges, so the selvedges are lined up with the crosswise grain. Use a ruler or pattern master to draw strips parallel to the fold, the width being double the width of the maker you’re using – or just a teensy bit under to leave a gap between the raw edges. So I’m drawing mine 23mm (just shy of 1in) wide.
Cut along these lines to create your strips – if you have a rotary cutter and cutting mat, it’ll be much quicker than scissors! Cutting the strips on two layers of fabric means you can cut two strips at once. Make enough strips so the total length is a bit more than you need for your binding.
Cut the ends of each strip so they create a right angle. Place one strip over another so the ends are right sides together at a 90° angle. Imagine the area where the two strips cross is a square – now use a chalk pencil or washable pen to draw a diagonal line across this square, creating a triangle shape at the outer corner (see pic above!). Stitch along this line to join the strips, back tacking at each end.
Trim the triangular outer corner, leaving a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance. Press the strips apart and press the seam allowances open. Do the same thing with the other strips until you have one long strip.
Lay the strip wrong side up on an ironing board, and turn your iron on. With the bias binding maker flat or metal side down, feed one end of the strip through the wide end of it – you may need to poke it through with a pin or small scissors. Pen pull the maker away from the end and folded fabric should come out the other side. Checking the raw edges are centred, follow the path of the maker with your iron, pressing the binding as it comes out of the maker to set the folds in place.
This is your finished single fold bias binding, which you can use when you’re stitching the binding to the inside of a garment.
If you want to make double fold bias binding – which you can use to bind an edge, showing on both right and wrong sides – simply fold it in half lengthways, with the raw edges on the inside of the fold, and press.
And that’s it! Now you can attach your binding to your lovely garment. Pretty!