Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Make your own bias binding for dresses and quilts

My own self made, continuous binding
Bias binding is an essential item in the sewing tools of a dress maker.

Bias binding a wonderful thing, it finishes edges nicely, can be used for trims, with piping and to enclose seams. Buying it is expensive and also you are limited in colour and choice.

I've been making my own bias binding for years and this post will show you how to make your own as well. Saving you time, money and ensuring your bias trim matches or contrasts as you wish. Basically you use a square of your fashion fabric and from that you end up with yards (metres) of bias binding.

I was taught this technique in a quilting class in the dim, dark, past. I acknowledge that teacher, but sadly I don't remember her name. I have no idea who originally invented this technique either, its been lost in the mists of time.

Step 1
Cut a square of your fashion fabric, I use my large 15" square quilting ruler for this, as it makes me approx 4.5 metres of bias binding from a 15" x 15" square of fabric. Pretty amazing eh! If your ruler is metric, work in metric. Basically you cut a big square.

Step 2
Fold your square so it forms a triangle, press the diagonal with your iron.
Step 3
Open up your square and cut it in half along your diagonal.

Step 4
Then form a trapizoid with your two halves of the square. Don't worry, I had no idea what a trapizoid was either, look at the following picture and you will go, aha! Its kind of like a 'skew wiff' kite.
Step 5
Place right sides together, pin and stitch then your two halves together. You will have two 'tails' on the right and left if you have put it together correctly, see the following image. I use a very narrow seam, 3/8ths at most. You don't need to back stitch at each end.
Step 6
Press your stitched seam open
Step 7
Rule lines on the wrong side of your trapizoid, length ways, as per the following picture. Now these lines represent the width of your bias binding, I usually do 1.5" spaces between my ruled lines, this gives me a bias binding of 1.5" wide. I was taught 2" but I find that's too wide for dressmaking but works well for quilt binding. It can be as narrow or as wide as you want. Remember, narrow means more bias binding, wider will mean less. See the following photos to see how its done. You must rule your lines exactly as demonstrated across your traizoid, otherwise the next steps won't work.

Step 8
This step creates a tube of fabric, its hard to describe, so if my words confuse, view the pictures for a better understanding. Fold the top of your trapezoid to the bottom so the vertical lines join up. Offset the seam line by a 1.5", you will have a small 'tail' at either end, this ensures that you can cut in a continuous spiral from one end of your tube to the other. What you are doing is offsetting the seam by the 1.5" width of your bias. Before you pin and stitch, make sure that your lines are meeting each other across the seam. Press seam open.
Aligning the seam, note the 1.5 'tail at both ends.
Pin seam, doing this creates a tube of fabric
See, you have a tube of fabric

With seams pressed
Step 9 and final step!
Now the fun begins, start at one side and cut around your lines, if you have offset your tube correctly you will cut continuously to the very end creating 4.5 metres of 1.5" (yes I know, mixing measuring systems) self fabric bias binding! How good is that. If you haven't offset your tube, you will only be able to cut circles. If this happens, unpick and offset your seam.

Out on the interwebs are many tutorials on calculating the size of square required for a particular yardage/meterage of binding. I'm mathematically challenged and just cut bigger and smaller squares, lol! I either make just enough, am slightly under, bummer and need to make more, or have too much and I use left overs for all sorts of small jobs that need bias binding.

I hope you found the tutorial useful and I hope you understood it. If not, leave me a comment and I can always add more photos to the tutorial. I make bias binding on a weekly basis.

I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.


  1. Wonderful my love! I have my destructions for this technique tucked into a sleeve in the front of my pattern folder, but the visual is always so much better. :)

    1. Thanks honey, glad it will be useful. I need pickiest to u dear stand, I'm a visual learning type.

  2. Excellent tute Lorna. Now how do you do the ironing of binding with the pins on the board? Thanks, Caroline

    1. Thx Caroline :) I shall do a post on that 'how-to' next :)

  3. I've never seen that way explained as clearly as that before. I make my bias binding the long way round. lol! I have a ruller that's the perfect width for bias binding draw diagonal lines cut 'em out then sew together.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad it was clear, I find it the best and quickest way to make bias binding.


I love to read your comments and thoughts on my posts.