Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Finish with Bias Binding

Back in February, I made this lace and knit top, which turned out really well. I used bias tape to finish the neck opening, sleeves, and hem, but took a bunch of photos during the process, so I could turn it into a tutorial eventually.

Bias tape is, as the name suggests, cut on the bias, which gives it that tiny bit of stretch. (Last year when I started this blag, I wrote briefly about bias.) That stretchiness allows bias tape to bend to different curves in sewing, which makes it ideal for finishing all sorts of edges.

Here's the curved edge of the neckline, to start:

I used some very stretchy, very lightweight jersey–in fact, you can see the grid of my cutting mat through it. Bias tape is great for this particular application, because it isn't as elastic as the jersey, and will keep the neckline from deforming as I wear it.

Here's how I attach bias tape to an unfinished edge. You can use double-fold or single-fold. I'm using single-fold here because that's just what I happened to have around.

1. Start pinning
Before you even cut your bias tape, unfold it, and start pinning, aligning one edge of the tape to your unfinished edge. I like to start somewhere at the back, towards the side, where the ends will be less noticeable.

Attach all the way around the neckline, pinning as you go.

2. Trim excess 
When you've done the entire distance, cut the tape so that you have 1" of overlap. Overestimating is always better, since you can trim down. Match up the ends, and sew 1" from the edge.

Flatten the seam. I do this by running my fingernail down the centre with fairly firm pressure. If you have too much bias tape, sew the ends a little closer, until it lies flat. Trim the excess.

3. Sew
Sew the bias tape down, starting at that seam you just made and backstitching at the start and the end of your sewing. Use the crease as a guideline–an edgestitch foot can help you out here. (Although, I wasn't using an edgestitch foot in this photograph, but a walking foot.)

Once you've sewn the bias tape in, gently crease the bias tape away from the main fabric, but keep the seam allowance pointing towards the centre of the bias tape.

You can use an iron and press it, but be careful not to lose any crease marks that the bias tape already has if you're using double-fold, since those are useful guides.

4. Fold and pin
Fold the bias tape in half, covering the unfinished edge, and keeping all seam allowances within the fold.

This is one of the few times where it makes sense to pin parallel to your stitching, rather than perpendicular, because there just isn't enough space. Make sure the heads are all facing the same direction, to make it easier to remove. Clips are a pretty good option here too, but I find that pins have the best hold.

5. Sew again!
Sew again, close to the edge, making sure (as best as you can) to catch both sides of the bias tape. Again, the edgestitch foot is your friend, or if you have a fairly wide opening on your foot, you can move your needle to the left or right as you need.

Et voilĂ !

The bias tape worked really well in this project, because it prevents stretching in the neckline, but also because I wasn't keen on trying to make a hem with this open-pattern lace.

Bias tape is sturdy enough that I didn't need to use stabilizer, also, so that was a bonus. That extra contrasting colour also adds a visual element that works well with the rest of the top. And here is the finished product once again!


  1. Thanks for your detailed tutorial, I have a project coming up which involves a lot of bias binding and I am sure I will be referring back to this. :)

    1. Always happy to help out a fellow Sandra! :)
      I hope your project turns out well!