Making continuous bias binding tape

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric. No more fiddly sewing strips together.

I was so inspired by some of the projects shared as part of the Seasonal Sewing Series back last November that I have been keen to try my hand at lots of non-clothing sewing projects.  On my list for this month – sewing for the kitchen and I wanted to make some swanky potholders.  Oh no, they need bias binding, and I’ve never made or even used it before.  So here’s my first attempt at making continuous bias binding tape – shared for you all to enjoy or laugh at, depending on how it turns out!

Materials

You will need:

Two ways to make bias binding

It seems there are two main ways to make bias binding strips.

  1. Cut lots of individual strips of fabric on the bias.  Discard all the edge pieces which are too short.  Sew the lot together individually to make one long strip. (Nah, sounds like too much little fiddly stuff.)
  2. Turn a large square of fabric into one long strip and avoid the fiddly stuff with very little waste. (Sounds like my favorite option.)

If you want to have a go at option 1, then you will find some really good tutorials on the So Sew Easy Sewing Tutorials Group Board.  Not a member yet ? – you should be!  It’s the best place to pin all of your favorite sewing tutorials and find new ones.  Read about it here and let me know if you want to join.

Sewing Tutorials and Tips. A Pinterest Group Board where members share the best of the internet's sewing tutorials, by So Sew Easy.

Pinterest Tutorials board

 

Making Continuous Bias Binding Tape

We need to start with a square of fabric.  Make sure to cut it accurately.  Later on, I’ll be sharing a table and a spreadsheet calculator which will show how much you can make from a square of any size, or how big a square you need for any length.  For now, I’m using an 11 inch square of cotton.

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric.  No more fiddly sewing strips together.

1.  Mark with your fabric marker just some little dots on the wrong side on opposite edges, 1 dot on two sides and 2 dots on the other sides.  This will help us line up the right edges later on. Draw a line across the diagonal from one corner to the other then cut along this line to make two triangles.

2.  Place the triangles right sides together, matching up the sides with the single dot.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam.

3.  Open out and press the seam flat. You now have a funny shape called a parallelogram.

4.  Starting at one of the long edges, draw lines right across the fabric.  I want to make double fold 1/2 inch finished tape so I am cutting my lines 2 inches wide.  2 inches folded in half twice = 1/2 inch.  You’ll probably end up with some extra fabric at the top that doesn’t make a full row. That’s OK.

5.  Now comes the tricky part.  It’s time to sew the sides together that have the two dots we marked earlier. BUT – they don’t go together evenly.  If you sew them together evenly you’ll end up with rings of fabric, not one long strip.  So you need to OFFSET the rows by one.

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric.  No more fiddly sewing strips together.

6.  We are going to sew with a 1/4 inch seam again, so to line up accurately, I stuck a pin through the FIRST line at 1/4 inch from the raw edge.  Then I stuck the same pin through the SECOND line on the other edge of the fabric, 1/4 inch in from the raw edge.  Once these were matched, I could pin all the way along.

7.  It’s going to look rather odd, with a spare bit of fabric hanging off either end, but it’s all going to work out well in the end so stick with it.  Sew these two edges together with a 1/4 inch seam, then press this seam open.

8.  Now it’s time to cut.  Start at one edge and cut along the line you drew earlier.  As you continue to cut, you’ll see that you don’t come to the edge of the fabric, you just keep on and on cutting in one long spiral, until eventually you get right to the other side of the fabric and have cut a big long strip 2 inches wide. Magic, and no fiddly sewing of little bits together.

 

 Turning the strip into bias tape

There are basically two methods for turning your long strip of fabric into usable bias tape:

  1. Fold it all very slowly and meticulously by hand as you iron. (Boring, with burnt fingers)
  2. Spend a few dollars on a handy bias tape making tool and actually have fun doing it in super quick time. (Guess which one I went with!)

If you don’t have a bias tape maker, then the procedure would be to fold your fabric in half all the way along and press. Then open out, fold in the edges towards the center, fold in half and press again.  Laborious if you have a lot of length, but it can be done with good results.

With the Swanky Clover Bias Tape Maker, it’s actually fun and really fast.  I bought the 1 inch size – careful when you buy the tape maker because the sizes can be rather confusing.  The 1 inch size takes 2 inch wide strips and makes 1/2 inch wide double fold tape.  Confusing right?

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric.  No more fiddly sewing strips together.

Simply take one end of your tape and feed it wrong side facing up into the wide end. I used a pin to help feed it through to get it started.  Then you can pin the end to your ironing board, gently pull the little handle and press with your iron when the neatly folded tape comes out the end.  Eventually I got fed up with repositioning the pin, and I just pushed the maker along the ironing board with the tip of my iron slowly and this worked just fine too.

Once you have the neatly folded tape, now you can fold in half again and press to make the double folded tape.  Traditional bias binding is usually a fraction wider on one side than the other, so you can make yours this way too by folding the top over so it doesn’t quite meet the edge on the bottom.  And voila!  Your own cute home made bias binding.

Wrap it up neatly on a piece of thick cardboard and pin in place and it will be ready to use. I’ve got so many ideas for how I might use this tape and I went a bit crazy and made yards and yards all in different fabrics.  It was really quite fun.

Easy to follow steps for making continuous bias binding tape from a square of fabric. No more fiddly sewing strips together.

Have you ever made your own continuous bias binding? What do you use it for?  Share a link to your projects in the comments…

Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy

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9 Responses to Making continuous bias binding tape

  1. Debra Kay Neiman says:

    THANK YOU so much for this tutorial.

  2. My mother shared this technique with me years ago and you are right, it is so much less fiddling around and waste. I would add that you don’t have to use a square of fabric, you can use any rectangle, as well. I sometimes need a certain amount for a quilt edge or such and you can use as large a piece of fabric as you need to get your binding length. If you use a rectangle, picture that your image #1 extends down by another 12 inches or so. You would still fold your right top corner down to the left edge to find your 45 degree bias cut. Then simply lift that top triangle straight up and move it to the bottom, so that what was the top edge is now aligned with the bottom edge. That becomes your seam. Then proceed to mark your widths. I hope this is a helpful add on to your great tip. Sew on and sew forth! Kristine

  3. Marti says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. I’ve never made bias tape I should give it a try, it sounds pretty easy. Pinned!

    Marti

  4. Sherry says:

    for those of us that are a bit slow or really really new to sewing a video would be nice because honestly, this still left me confused. I am not lucky enough to have any sewing people in my family.

  5. Janee says:

    Thanks for posting this – always great to see things done another way. I use the rectangle method also, so was glad to see Kristine’s version above – that eliminates a lot of extra seams in the finished binding, too. My instructions came out of the Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide, from the late 70′s. It was my sewing bible in my early years, and still a great go-to resource!

  6. Very clear tutorial. Thank you for the great photos and instructions.

    I’ll be coming back to your tut next time I need custom seam binding for sure.

    AWESOME!

  7. Linda says:

    Great tutorial! Thank you!

  8. Melinda says:

    Thank you! I knew about this method but didn’t know exactly how to do it, especially the “tricky part.” Now I know and have confidence that I can do it. Have to get a bias tape making tool next!

What do you think?