Apronalong – Making Your Own Bias Binding

The side seams and bottom hem of our Butterick apron panel need finishing with bias binding. I am not a big fan of making bias binding, but in the case of this apron, I totally think it’s worth it. It’s such a pretty detail!

However. Unless you’re working with a fabric that can be pressed into a nice, crisp fold, don’t bother. You will just end up tearing your hair out and swearing violently! If you are working with anything that has spring and fluidity, just go out and buy yourself some bias binding. You’ll thank me for it.

Now, there are lots of techniques and equipment out there to help with the making of bias binding. I have one thing to say to those techniques and pieces of equipment: harrumph! They have let me down. So, this is how I make bias binding. Launch in if you have tips of your own – just don’t recommend a bias binding maker to me!

We need to make a 4 x 70 inch (10 x 178 cm) strip of fabric, cut on the bias. It needs to be cut on the bias so that it has lots of give for going round our scalloped edge.

I take my piece of fabric and find a selvedge. I know that will be true and straight to do any measuring against. I then take my French ruler and find the line that shows a 45 degree angle – this is what we need to cut out on. I make chalk marks so that I can start chalking out one long line across the fabric.

From this line I measure along 2 inches and draw another line. From that line, I measure along another 2 inches and draw a third line. And so on…

Soon, I can cut three strips. There’s some wastage of fabric in that bottom corner. Anything cut on the bias is notorious for eating up fabric and wasting fabric. In this case, I’m not going to shed any tears. I’ll save that for another project!

Please note that I have sliced straight through to the ends of the fabric section. Do the same! As a loose guide for our apron needs, I cut three strips:

22 x 4 inch

29 x 4 inch

30 x 4 inch

Sewn together, these give me a strip that is 81 inches long. This is more than required, but I am very happy with that. You can always take away, but you can’t add – a good mantra to live your seamstress life by!

Now, I sew these three strips together to make one strip. I want them to join up thus:

Right sides together, I pin the two sections together. Important note: I’m not matching up the pointy ends of my fabric, I’m overlapping those points so that the long edges of the fabric strips meet up. Can you see that overlap? That’s what we want.

I sew and trim and then do the same to attach my third strip of fabric. Wah-hay! I now have a really long bias strip. Now my best friend, the iron, will help me turn this into bias binding.

I turn the steam off on my iron. With the amount of fiddling this takes, I don’t want hurt fingertips. Ouch! First, I trim and press open the little seams between the three strips of fabric. Then I press over a fold in the centre of the fabric, wrong sides together.

Now, I open this back out and start pressing one of the long edges in to meet the centre crease. I’m careful where I place my iron – I don’t want to inadvertently press out that guiding centre crease.

Rocking and rolling! Now, I bring the second long edge in to also meet the centre crease and press in the same way.

Then I give everything one last press!

Yay! Pain free fashion fabric bias binding. I’m not going to use mine straight away, which means I need to roll it up neatly so that all that careful pressing doesn’t go to waste. Do the same if you’re taking a break between stages.

What do we think, guys? This is really coming together!

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20 Responses to Apronalong – Making Your Own Bias Binding

  1. marianna says:

    You turn the steam off your iron?!

    This is where your readership divides into those who sew .. ahem .. naked. and those like me who love making bias binding as the steam and heat are the only way they keep their hands warm…. :-)

  2. Cool beans. Clover bias makers really take the pain out of this. Also their mini-iron, which saves you having to heat up the biggie for small stuff. Simplicity has an automagic one but it’s super expensive here in oz..

    • Don’t talk to me about the bias makers! I can’t be doing with them!

      • Miriana says:

        I like the way of making continuous bias tape by using a stitched up offset square (I’m aware that makes no sense – I think the Colette book has instructions). It took me a couple of goes not to screw it up, but it’s a quick way of doing it if you have a nice square shaped bit of fabric (I often end up making bias binding out of random scraps though). I can’t bear trying to iron bias binding, have also just about figured out bias binding makers.

        Oh, and sorry for putting this comment in as a reply – I don’t seem to be able to comment any other way.

      • Really? The auto ones or the iron yourself ones? I’ve never used the autos but the manual ones are pretty awesome. I prefer the non-self-stick kind..

    • Jen (NY) says:

      Oh ya, I have collection of those Clover devices–they are convenient. I use them, but I occasionally also use the method that Karen described above. Just depends on the project and the fabric.
      Jen

  3. sylkotwist says:

    You are so right, nice crisp cotton fabric makes lovely bias binding! This is the way my mum showed me how to make it, I have gone full circle from using the *unmentionable* to doing it this way and it’s the best!

  4. Robin Demaree says:

    can you tell me how much fabric you used to make 81″ in of bias tape? thank you for this post-very informative. I have been eyeing a bias tape maker and you just saved me bunches of $$$.

  5. Anne W says:

    Self made bias works great if it is a fabric with natural fibre content, and cotton always works best. However, if you need to use a poly-based fabric, use some fine sheer interfacing (Gill Arnold’s is best) on the piece before you cut the bias strips. It will behave far better under the iron. Don’t use Vilene interfacing, too much glue. I have to confess I use a bias-tape maker, I have several sizes and it works for me…

  6. LinB says:

    For single-fold bias binding: Push two pins into your ironing board, at opposing angles to one another — they’ll make a little tunnel. Position the points as far apart as you want your finished binding to be. Run the end of the strip through the pins — the pins will turn in the edges for you, and you can iron the resulting folds in a long run, without risking a steam burn. Once you’ve done the first folds, it’s easy to fold down the middle and iron the second fold. I second Miriana on the offset square method of seaming — it greatly reduces the “Huh? Which angle goes where?” part of seaming strips together. You can still use rotary cutter for making the strips, you just have to put the mat inside the bias tube before cutting. AND (drum roll here) you can use a rectangle instead of a square, to use up long narrow remnants.

  7. MrsC says:

    Funny, I often say to people who come in to buy bias bindng – oh just make your own, it’s easy! And I get that “You are an escaped lunatic” look in return. I get that quite often! LOL! Still, we sell lots of it on account of the reluctance people have to DIY. I do keep trying however. I think patterned bias is so pretty. Mind you, the strawberry one I used on my most recent apron make is diabetes inducingly sweet!

  8. I’ve been struggling with beastly contraptions..I’m going to try the pins. Thank you all!

  9. Pingback: The Great British Sewing Bee – People Who Care | Did You Make That?

  10. Pingback: Stash Delve: Bias binding | Clipped Curves

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