101: Making your own Bias Binding

Bias binding is a strip of fabric that is cut on the bias – at 45 degrees to the fabric’s grainline or selvedge. Being cut on the bias means it can be easily stretched, shaped and applied to curved fabric edges without puckering or dramatically changing the hand of the fabric it’s being applied to.
It has a myriad of applications, from the practical (finishing your seam edges so they won’t fray) to the purely ornamental (such as a casing for piping).
Making your own single fold binding is really easy to do – you’ll need a few things though:
 – The fabric you’d like to make the binding from
 – A ruler
 – A fabric marker pen or tailor’s chalk
 – A 90-45-45 set square, or a stiff piece of cardboard
 – Scissors
 – Iron
 – A bias binding maker tool like the one below, which come in a variety of sizes like the one below:
1. Firstly, you’ll need to decide how wide you’d like your binding to be. I’ll be making mine 2.5cm wide, which means cutting strips 5cm wide (when applied, the width you’ll see from the front of the fabric will be 1.25 cm wide). It’s a nice and easy ratio to remember – if you want 2cm wide binding cut your fabric 4cm wide, if you want 3cm wide binding cut your fabric 6cm wide, and so on.
2. You’ll need to find the bias on your fabric. You can do this if you have a 90-45-45 set square lying around (a triangular ruler with one 90 degree angle and two 45 degree angles), but you can also make your own from cardboard by drawing a a square (all sides equal) and cutting along the diagonal, like I’ve done here:

Align one of the non-diagonal sides with your fabric selvedge, and use the diagonal side to draw the bias line.

3. Measure the width of your strips from the marked bias line, mark with your fabric marker or tailor’s chalk, then cut out.

4. Using your fancy bias binding maker widget thing, push your fabric through and into position. I’m using a very crisp silk dupion which is super easy to push through. For more flimsy fabrics, I use a needle and thread to pass through the tool and pull the fabric through.

As you pull the tool away from you, iron the bias strip so the folds stay in place:

If you need a longer strip of bias than the size of your fabric will allow for, you can sew strips together (before ironing them flat) by pinning and sewing them like so:


Then sew parallel to the angle. You can sew a straight line if you wish, but sewing at an angle like this spreads the bulk of the seam in your applied binding.
This dupion is a great example of also needing to match up the direction of the silk’s ‘slubs’ so that your strips will reflect light evenly and won’t be obvious to the eye that there’s a break in your binding.
This is due to the weave of the fabric – with one side of the fabric showing mainly the warp (the lengthwise yams which are perpendicular to the selvedge and held under tension during weaving) and the other side showing mostly the weft (which runs parallel to the selvedge). The directionality of the fibres, especially of a fabric with sheen like this dupion, reflect the light in different directions. It’s not necessary to do this on fabrics that have a more matt appearance though :).
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