Bias binding is one of those wonderfully useful and versatile things used a lot in sewing. It’s something that my pupils often worry about using as it can be a little tricky but as soon as someone shows you the basics it really is fine.
You can buy it ready made or you can make your own. This blog shows you what it is, why we have it and how to use it.
What is the ‘bias?’
Fabric is made up of 2 threads; weft and warp.
The warp is the horizontal thread and the weft is the vertical thread. A weaving loom is threaded with the warp thread and this holds the tension for the fabric. The weft is then woven in and out of the warp threads to create the fabric.
If you had a larger piece of fabric this is what the threads would look like. (Slightly neater than my drawing and also a lot smaller!)
The threads are woven together to form a grid like structure. If you pulled the fabric side to side or top to bottom it would keep its shape and be rigid.
This is how fabric is normally laid out and cut.
But there are those times when we need a bit of fluidity in fabric. Clothing that we want to cling to the body and, perhaps, not have any zips of fastenings we can make by cutting the fabric on what is known as the ‘bias.’
We do this by cutting across the threads at a 45 degree angle.
This will give our fabric a natural stretch which means we can make it curve more easily.
Patterns can be cut ‘on the bias’ and this just means that you lay the pattern across the fabric rather than vertical or horizontally.
What is bias binding?
There are times when we need to finishes a raw edge or add a trimming to project or we’d like piping on a cushion and also to bind a quilt to finish it. All these can be made by using bias binding.
Bias binding is a length of tape that’s been cut on the bias of the fabric grain. You can buy it in plain shades or now there is an increasing amount of specialised fabrics available which really do add the finishing touches to your work.
To make your own bias binding just use a 30cm ruler and draw a line either side of it as in the above picture.
Cut out your shape and then fold the bottom edge to halfway up the wrong side as in this picture.
Fold down the top and then press the crease with an iron. (I’ve used paper here as it’s easier and what I had to hand)
To use the binding open it up…
Take your fabric you want to bind – in the case my piece of paper.
Pop your fabric in between the binding.
Pin close to the bottom edge of the binding.
Turn your binding over and have a look at the where the pin is. This is important as you have to check the binding is even and you’ve pinned the back as well as the front. If you haven’t caught the back re-pin so you have.
Sew along the dotted line. You’ve checked you’ve pinned the back so sew where you’ve pinned and you will be fine!
Here’s some of my bunting I’ve made in the past.
More traditional bunting…
Here I used it to seal raw edges and also add contrasting decoration.
It’s really great stuff and very easy to use as long as you pin properly.