Michelle Stoffel from Style Maker Fabrics joins us with her best tips for how to finish a bias binding, especially when working with a garment. Great finishing techniques can take your clothing sewing to a whole new level!
Style Maker Fabrics specializes in high-quality apparel fabrics, all organized by the latest fashion trends, fabric type, garment type and color for easy browsing! Michelle’s big goal is to help everyone create garments to suit their own personal style, and she loves to showcase sewists’ creations too. Style Maker Fabrics provides a great source of inspiration through their Instagram (@stylemakerfabrics) and Pinterest pages
Style Maker Fabrics currently has a fantastic assortment of summer fabrics in the shop including double gauze, rayon challis, french terry, jersey knits and lots more! There is a fun mix of summer colors and textures too, like chambray, ikat and shibori that are so popular in fashion right now, perfect for warm weather sewing.
Enjoy Michelle’s tips for finishing your bias bindings, and feel free to add your experiences in the comments!
A Fresh Look at Finishing Bias Binding (Especially for Garments)
Over the past few months I have sewn up a variety of garment patterns, all calling for bias binding. This is not a new subject for most of us seamstresses; we use binding all the time on our quilts, potholders and a multitude of other projects. For clothing, bias binding is perfect for finishing off necklines, armholes or even for creating straps on a simple tank. There does seem to be some inconsistency, however, in how to finish off or join the ends of your bias tape on garments. I have noticed most patterns calling to simply overlap the ends, join them perpendicularly or completely glossing over the step, leaving it up to you. There must be a better way, right?
Airy linen tank and cropped blazer– perfect summer layers.
When I first started sewing I was a quilter first and foremost. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really shifted my focus to garment sewing, but this doesn’t mean I forgot all of my secret quilting skills. Today I’m going to let you all in on one of my favorite secrets– how to perfectly join bias binding on any project, especially garments!
First, let’s talk bias binding options. There are so many amazing pre-made bindings out there, but you can of course always make your own. One of my favorite ready-made bias bindings to use is jersey knit bias tape. Incredibly soft, it is perfect for use on any garment and not just ones made out of knit! I am also partial to making my own bias tape; I love having it match my garment perfectly. You can read more about how to make your own bias binding here.
Now to jump right to it! In this tutorial I will be using Colette’s free Sorbetto Tank pattern made out of a fun geometric linen blend, perfect for summer. I also created my own bias binding using the same fabric. I cut my strips 1-3/4” wide, making my bias about 3/8” wide when folded. While I will be working specifically with the Sorbetto Tank, you can use this method for any garment or other project that calls for bias tape. It will also work for any width of bias tape.
1. Gather your garment and supplies. I have my “completed” Sorbetto tank (everything has been done except for adding the bias), my bias binding and a few tools that I find useful including Wonder Clips, a stiletto and a pair of sharp scissors. Also, have your iron nearby and ready for pressing!
Sorbetto tank, bias tape and tools.
2. Attaching your binding. Begin sewing on the binding by unfolding it slightly, matching up the raw edge of the tank with a raw edge of the bias tape, right sides together (RST). Start stitching about 3” from the end of the your bias tape, leaving a long tail that will come in handy later. Backstitch at the beginning and continue stitching all the way around the edge– in my case it is the armhole of my tank. As you stitch, be sure to slightly stretch your bias tape, this will prevent gaping and give you a nice close fit on you neckline or armhole.
Long bias tape tail left at the beginning.
Stop stitching about 3” from your starting point, backstitch and trim the bias tape leaving a long tail.
Bias tape tails and gap between the start and stop.
3. Measuring for the join: Using a bit of bias tape as a ruler, unfold and center it between your start and end points. You can also use an actual ruler or a scrap of paper cut the width of your bias tape, but I like to use what I have close at hand! (Note: For this step I slipped a piece of white paper between the bias ends that I was joining and the rest of the tank to make it easier to see.)
Unfolded scrap of bias centered between starting and ending points.
Now, take one of your tails and lay it across your “ruler.” It should completely cover it. Trim your bias tape tail even with this far edge of the “ruler.”
Repeat this step with the other tail, lining it up with the opposite side of the “ruler” and trimming it just short of the edge. By trimming this just a bit less it will help with the fit later on.
Trimming the bias tails using our fabric ruler as a guide. Left: Trimming one side, Right: And then the other.
4. Joining the ends: We are going to join our ends on the diagonal to minimize bulk and the appearance. Match up the two ends perpendicularly and RTS. You should have what looks like a neat square.
Left: Matching up bias ends perpendicularly, Right: Diagonally stitched and trimmed join.
Carefully stitch from corner to corner diagonally across your square. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open. Refold and press your bias as needed.
A nearly invisible join without and extra bulk.
5. Securing the remainder of the bias: Attach the rest of the bias by stitching between your previous starting and ending points, again matching up the raw edges and stretching your pieces as needed to get everything to lay nice as flat.
Stitch down the remainder of the bias tape.
6. Enclosing your raw edges and finishing off the bias binding: There are a few different methods you can use to secure your binding. For each method you will fold the bias tape, enclosing your raw edges and securing it. I made swatches of the five most common so you can see which you might prefer.
Five Finishing Options for Your Bias Tape:
- Hand Stitching: Secure the backside of the binding by hand using a blind stitch. This is my favorite method for quilt binding and gives your garments a nice clean look. It’s time consuming, I know, but totally worth it!
- Top Stitching: Stitch through all the layers close to– but not on top of– your first seam. This is probably my favorite method as it is quick and makes it easy to catch the binding on the backside.
- Stitch-in-the-Ditch: Fold your bias tape, taking care to cover your first row of stitching on the backside. Wonder clips are very helpful for keeping things in place. Stitch right along the previous row of stitching in the seam or ditch.
- Double Needle or Cover Stitch: For a nice professional look, use a double needle or cover stitch machine, lining up the needles on either side the first seam.
- Zig Zag Stitch: Stitch right along the first steam using a zig zag stitch that hops across either side of the seam. I am really liking the look of this one lately and it is especially great for knits if you don’t want to break out the double needle or cover stitch.
Finished linen Sorbetto tank with top stitched matching bias.
This method for bias binding gives you an almost invisible join, reduces seam bulk and provides a consistent result every time. I loved the results on my linen Sorbetto tank so much I whipped up another one in a stunning rayon challis border print with jersey bias. Hop over to the Style Maker Fabrics blog to check it out and learn more about the Sorbetto tank pattern!
I hope you have found this tutorial helpful! I love it when I can take something I learned in one field of sewing and apply it to another. It never hurts to look at skills you have in your arsenal and to think about how you can apply them in new ways.