Lauren's Top Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Bias Binding
Part 2 - Applying the binding to your garments

Blog / 23 May 2018

Following on from part one where I showed you how you can make your own – or buy ready made bias binding, its now time to show you different methods of using it on your garments.

I've summarised it all in this Youtube video, or read on for written instructions and pictures too. 

Some lovely pattern recommendations that use bias binding as a finish at the neckline or arm holes are...

The first thing to decide is whether you want the binding to be visible or not from the outside of your garment. 

This is generally a personal preference thing. If the binding is a different fabric from your main garment then you may want to fold it to the inside, or if you like the idea of a contrast then you can leave it exposed.

My main over arching tip here is to press well with the iron nice and hot (suitable temperature for your fabric of course) and have water in your iron so that it steams. Steam really helps to set the fabric into place and it will make the job a whole lot easier if you press properly before you stitch.

My personal preference of width of bias binding to use for dressmaking projects is 18mm.

Most of the time when you attach binding, you will be going all the way around a neckline or armhole and will therefore have to deal with joining it up. The way you do this is the same so I've highlighted at what point you need to do it, and set out the instructions right at the bottom of the post to prevent lots of repetition. 

Exposed binding

If you decide to have the binding exposed then the next thing to decide is whether you want to see the full width of the binding or half the width.

Exposed binding – half width (pictured above left)

  • Open out one of the folds of the binding and line it up with the raw edge of your garment at the neckline, right sides facing.
  • Sew it to the main fabric using the crease in the binding as a stitching guide. Deal with the join - see below. 
  • Press the binding up and away from the main garment, ensuring you don’t press out the crease in the other side of the binding. 
  • Turn the main fabric so the wrong side is facing up and press the binding over the raw edge and just passed the stitch line that you can see. 
  • Top stitch the binding in place with the right side (outside) of the garment facing you. This will mean the stitching looks neat, even if there are slight inconsistencies in how you have pressed it.

Exposed binding –full width (pictured above right) 

  • Open out one of the folds of the binding and line it up with the raw edge of your garment at the neckline, right side of the binding facing wrong side of the main fabric.
  • Sew it to the main fabric using the crease in the binding as a stitching guide. Deal with the join - see below. 
  • Press the binding up and away from the main garment, ensuring you don’t press out the crease in the other side of the binding. 
  • Press the full width of the binding to the front of the garment and pin in place.
  • Top stitch the binding, with the right side (outside) of the garment facing you.

Concealed binding

If you decide to have the binding folded to the inside of the garment and out of sight, the next thing to decide if how far away from the edge of the garment you want to see the top stitching line

Concealed – half width of binding stitch line (pictured above right) 

Follow the same steps as described for the exposed half width method above.

Simply press the binding over again to the inside and then top stitch it in place with the right side (outside) of the garment facing you. Again, this will ensure the stitching line looks neat even if there are variations in how you have pressed it.

Concealed – full width of binding stitch line (pictured above left) 

This follows the same principle as described in the exposed full width example but the first stage is changed to the following..

Open out one of the folds of the binding and line it up with the raw edge of your garment at the neckline, right side of the binding facing right side of the main fabric.

Concealed – sewing binding on like a mini facing

For this method you use the binding as a flat strip of fabric, you don’t need to pre pressed folds in it. This method is good if you are making binding yourself and don’t have a binding maker.

  • Fold the bias strip in half and press with wrong sides together.
  • Line the raw edges of the binding strip up with the raw edges of the neckline on the right side (outside) of your garment.
  • Sew to the garment with the desired seam allowance that either the pattern specifies or that you have added in when you cut the bias strip. Deal with the join - see below.
  • Press the binding up and away from the main garment, over the seam allowance.
  • Understitch the binding to the seam allowances close to the seam line. This line of stitching will not be visible on the outside of the garment, but it can help the binding to stay flat and sit on the inside of the garment neatly.
  • Press the binding to the wrong side (inside) of the garment.
  • Top stitch in place with the right side (outside) of the garment facing you. Again, this will ensure the stitching line looks neat even if there are variations in how you have pressed it.

Dealing with the join

This stage applies to whatever method you are using to attach the binding and should be done after you've sewn that first line of stitching attaching the binding to the garment. 

  • You should leave a gap of a few inches and ensure you have long enough ends on your binding that can be trimmed down later. 
  • Open out the binding and lay it along the edge of the neckline or armhole to work out where the two ends will 'butt up' against each other. Use your fingers or nail to press a crease at the point. 
  • Use that crease as a stitch guide to stitch the two ends together. 
  • Trim seam allowances, press them open, lay the binding flat against the garment and sew the gap closed. 

I hope you've found that useful and can give binding a try now with a bit more confidence! Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions :)