We all know how fun it is to sew up your own handmade garments, but getting a lovely professional finish can be tricky to achieve when you first start out. One common method you can come across to finish necklines and armholes is to use bias strips or bias binding - but what actually is it? why is it important? and how do you actually use it and get a neat finish?
In my latest Youtube video I've been explaining the details and showing you how to make your own.
Why is bias binding important?
As well as giving you a neat finish on the neckline, armholes and hems of your garments, it serves an important function too. These curved areas of your garments can have a tendency to stretch out as you wash and wear them, but the binding helps to stabilise these areas and provide more shaping and structure to the garment.
What is bias binding?
Bias binding is a strip of fabric that is cut on the bias. This means that it is cut at a 45 degree angle to the selvedge of the fabric (and therefore at a 45 degree angle to the direction of the threads that have woven the fabric in the first place).
Cutting the fabric in this way means that it has give and pliability so it can easily mould around the curves of your garments.
You can buy it ready made or make your own and it comes in various widths depending on the look and finish you want to have.
Ready made bias binding
Typically ready-made bias binding is made from poly-cotton and has a sort of startchy coating on it to make it a little stiff. This will soften once its on your garment and has been washed (but you don’t need to pre-wash it). It can come single folded or double folded. These are basically the same thing, the double folded has already been folded in half an extra time.
In the shop we sell poly cotton binding in two common widths of single fold bias binding – 18mm and 25mm (pictured below left). This measurement refers to the distance between the folds, not the full width when it is opened out.
We also now stock a range of Atelier Brunette double fold bias binding made from their gorgeous viscose and double gauze fabric (pictured below right).
How to make your own bias binding
Making your own bias binding is a really nice touch, especially if you are using a really lightweight fabric like cotton lawn, viscose or cotton double gauze.
There are two main different ways to cut the strips that you will then fold to make the binding - the single length method and the continuous loop method. Here is an extract from my book, Learn to Sew with Lauren, explaining both processes.
- The single length method is useful if you only need a little section, or if you have some scraps of fabric left over, rather then cutting into a larger section of fabric.
- The continuous loop method is useful if you have a lot of extra fabric left over and you want a little store of binding for future projects.
Once you have the strips cut out you can then use a bias binding maker to turn it into single fold bias binding. We sell these bias binding makers in a variety of widths - I mostly use the 18mm for dressmaking.
Want to know what to do with the binding next? Check out part two of this post for different ways to apply it to your garments for different looks and effects!