It’s no secret that I love bias tape: making it, hemming with it, binding edges with it, decorating with it. I love it so much that I’ve dedicated a whole series of lessons and tutorials on bias tape! And today’s lesson is a really fun one on how to sew with a bias binding foot.
This is an adjustable binding foot that makes binding with bias tape so easy!
I showed how to bind with bias tape the classic way last year and, while that comes out perfectly, it can sometimes be a sort of long process with repeated pinning and sewing. But once you know how to sew with a bias binding foot, you can whip right through your binding process in just one go and without pins!
And if you’re a bit lazy, like I am, you can even finish off your edges with single fold bias tape instead of ironing it in half to make double fold bias tape. I will admit, it’s hard to get it to come out perfectly, but if you’re in a rush or just don’t really care about perfection, it’s super fast!
So, what do you say? Are you ready to learn how to sew with a bias binding foot? You should definitely try! This foot is inexpensive (look how inexpensive it is at Fancy Collective!) and can be adjusted to any width of bias tape. Hooray! Let’s get started!
Materials and Preparation:
In order to practice using this binding foot, grab your stash of bias tape and some fabric scraps with straight edges. I’m using a contrasting color of thread so that it shows up in these photos, but you’ll want to use a color that matches. (Unless, of course, you want yours to show up, too.)
There are two types of bias tape: single fold bias tape and double-fold bias tape.
Single fold bias tape is a strip of fabric cut on the bias in which the two long edges have been folded in to meet at the center, as shown above to the left. Double fold bias tape is single fold bias tape that has been folded along this center line where the fabric edges meet so that it has one fold on one edge, and two folds on the other edge. The raw fabric edges are hidden inside. The picture above and to the right is double-fold bias tape.
I made both of these bias tapes from a 25 mm bias tape maker. Therefore, I fed a 50 mm strip of fabric through the maker, and it became 25 mm single fold bias tape. I then folded the pink one in half again to make 12.5 mm double-fold bias tape.
The first thing you need to do is adjust the bias binding foot to fit your specific bias tape. Turn the metal dial on the right until the inside edge of the foot is lined up with the width of your double fold bias tape. So I set mine at 12.5 mm. (See #1 above.)
Then you can adjust the position of the bias tape edge in relation to where the sewing needle is. This is to make sure that the seams are the right distance from the edge of the bias tape on the finished product. Turn the other wheel until the outside edge of the foot is lined up with the metal part of the foot as you like (marked #2 above).
How to insert bias tape in the binding foot:
Looking into the bias binding foot, you’ll see that there are two C-shaped slots on the left. The two outer folds of the double fold bias tape slip into those, while the centerfold should rest against the right part of the space (which gets positioned by turning the wheel marked #1 in the photo previously).
Let’s practice inserting the fabric first without it attached to the sewing machine. See how the folds slip into place when the width is adjusted properly on the bias binding foot?
How to sew with a bias binding foot:
Remove your regular sewing machine foot (on top), and attach the adjustable bias binding foot (below). My sewing machine uses low shank feet, so all I had to do was clip on the foot.
Look at the pictures above and follow along:
- Slip the bias tape into place. Pull the ends of the thread out so that you can hold onto them.
- Insert the fabric edge in between the two C-shaped spaces of the binding foot, and slide it in until it reaches the inside fold.
- Slip the fabric and bias tape through the binding foot until they are under the needle. If the edge of the bias tape is not aligned with the needle as you’d like, adjust it with the wheel marked #2 on that previous photo. When it is lined up, lower the presser foot and arrange the fabric so that it is still hitting the inside fold of the bias tape.
- Start sewing as you would normally. I suggest pulling on the long threads to pull the fabric under the machine foot at the beginning.
Then just continue sewing! If you’re binding a straight edge, it’s pretty simple. Just keep checking that the fabric is reaching all the way inside to the inside of the bias tape. If it isn’t, stop sewing (with the needle down), adjust the fabric and bias tape, and continue.
When you’re done, backstitch a few stitches, raise the presser foot, cut the threads and pull the fabric out from under the foot. Trim the bias tape, and you’re done!
Like I said before, you can even be super lazy and use single fold bias tape with the bias binding foot, however, if you want excellent results, I really suggest you just take out your iron and press the bias tape in half first to make double fold bias tape.
You have to be very careful in adjusting the fabric and bias tape as they go through the machine foot, but it’s a really quick technique that works well for sewists who like to take shortcuts.
Look at that! I bound these two fabric edges in no time at all with just one line of stitching each and NO PINS! Wow!
Once you’ve learned well how to sew with a bias binding foot, you can tackle more complicated binding projects with it, too, such as curves and joining the ends of bias tape along the edge.
If you feel like trying it, cut out a circle of fabric (the bigger it is, the wider the curves and the easier to bind) and get your bias tape ready. My example here was a bit harder than it needed to be, first of all, because I cut a small circle in order to use up this short scrap of flower bias tape that was leftover from hemming my circle skirt last year. Second of all, the bias tape was only single fold and was also more narrow, making it harder to keep the fabric enclosed inside.
Start off like we did above. Slip the bias tape through the foot and pull it out the back. When joining ends of bias tape, we need to leave around 5 cm of it hanging off of each end, so make sure you’ve pulled at least that much out behind the needle. Stick the edge of the fabric circle in the foot and under the needle, then lower the presser foot. (top photo above)
Start sewing slowly. As you go, pull the fabric circle in towards the presser foot with your left hand and pull the bias tape towards the fabric circle with your right hand. This way the edge of the circle will stay wedged in between the bias tape as it goes under the needle.
Stop sewing and adjust the fabric whenever it’s necessary.
Stop sewing about 5 cm away from where the stitching began. I left less than that, and it was a pain in the butt, to be perfectly honest!
Stick a pin in the center of the unbound edge (light blue pin). Then pull one end of the bias tape as if it were being sewn on and stick another pin into the bias tape where the first pin is (dark blue pin).
Move the first bias tape end off to the side and repeat with the other end of the bias tape, sticking a pin where the first pin is (red pin). These pins in the bias tape show where they need to be joined.
Remove the first pin. Open up and unfold the bias tape ends and flip them around so that the right sides are facing and the two pins are at the same height. (shown on the left)
Remove the bias binding foot and put the regular sewing machine foot back on. Then sew across where the pins are. (shown on the right)
Trim the bias tape (shown on left), then flip it back around, open the seam allowances and fold the raw edges back inwards. Then position the bias tape over the fabric edge, pin (shown on right), and continue sewing with your regular sewing machine foot.
Ta da! It might look a little wonky and warped, but just give it a good steam with your iron (using a protective cloth, if your fabric requires it), and it will flatten right out! Doesn’t that look nice?! Normally you need to do a LOT of pinning when binding curved edges, but I totally skipped that step! Yee-haw! I love saving time and energy when sewing!
So, now that you’ve seen how to sew with a bias binding foot, go procure yourself one right away and put it to work! I highly suggest ordering this adjustable bias binding foot from Fancy Collective.