Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tutorial: Bias Binding Shortcut

Yes, this is a SEWING tutorial. An explanation... We're in COVID-19 lockdown, and the border is closed. Even if it weren't, there's no safe, simple way for Isabel to get to Canada. She's working from her studio apartment in California, and to provide herself with some extra amusement, she's bought herself a sewing machine. She already knows the basics, but I'm providing additional guidance from across the continent. This tutorial is for her. You might find it useful too.

What is bias binding?
It consists of a strip of fabric, cut on the bias (diagonal) for stretch, that's applied to a raw edge such as an armhole, neck edge, or pocket.

Why not just apply a facing?
There may be times when that's preferable, but in general, I like to use bias binding because it's simple to apply, doesn't require careful ironing after laundering, and makes a beautiful tidy edge.

Why make your own?
It's customizable, simple to do, and adds some pizazz to an otherwise staightforward garment. You can make a whole whack of it at once and have it on hand for when you need it.

What do I need to get started?
  • a 100% cotton fat quarter (this is a quilter's cut). I prefer batik cotton because even though it's more expensive, it's tightly woven and makes a nice firm edge. Make sure to wash and dry it a few times on hot to pre-shrink.
  • Follow this tutorial to make a long length of bias binding 1 1/4" in width. Use the shortest stitch length possible when sewing so that when you cut, nothing will come undone. Here's what you'll end up with.

  • Pins.
  • Sewing machine.
  • Steam iron.
OK, so what's the shortcut? 
With this method there's no need to pre-iron folds into the tape, no need to sew the ends of the tape together, no need to grade any seam allowances, no need to understitch anywhere. (I should add that I also rarely bother to staystitch.) Major time savers.

1. Finger press one end of the tape into a 1/4" fold as shown below and, right sides together, pin the tape all the way around the armhole/neck. When you all the way back to the beginning, overlap the ends and cut. The stitching will hold the folded end under to create a tidy closure.

2. Stitch around the edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. (The diagonal seam you see here was made during the bias binding making process.)

3. Press the tape and the seam allowance away from the body of the garment.

4. Fold #1: turn the raw edge of the binding back toward the garment and line it up with the stitching and press it into place.

5. Fold #2: Fold the entire width of the binding toward the inside of the garment again, leaving just a narrow edge of the main fabric peeking over to the inside.

6. Pin the folded binding in place,

7. and edgestitch.

Here's the resulting armhole from the right side.

The finished Ashton Top is ready to wear. I've been using this type of edging for years, and it wears extremely well. There's no curling to the right side and I love the look of the printed binding, even though only I can see it.

The perfect linen summer top. If only the weather would feel like summer. Brrr!
It may be only 13C, but the lilacs are out,
and the horse chestnuts.