The holiday season is approaching. Those of us that make gifts for friends and family are always looking for things to make that are relatively quick, simple and cost effective. Using bias binding to finish place mats, “mug-rugs”, table runners or other sewn items can make the process much quicker. If you have struggled to get really nice corners on these projects, fear not! Today I’ll walk you through an easy method to do just that.
Double fold bias binding is a continuous strip of fabric, cut on the bias (diagonal to the grain of the woven fabric), folded and pressed so that the seam allowance is already worked out for you.Double fold bias binding tape is available in many colours. You can easily coordinate it with most fabrics. I have yet to meet a sewing shop that did not sell bias tape, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. Because it is cut on the bias, it easily navigates around curved edges, too.
If you are making something with only straight sides, you don’t actually need your binding to be cut on the bias. You can make your own binding using the same fabric as your project. You can cut the strips across the grain of your fabric to accommodate the width of binding you want to use. There is a tool called a “bias tape maker” that allows you to fold and press your own binding easily. They are available in a number of different sizes.
For all those rectangular projects that you might want to bind like place mats, mug rugs, table runners, quilts, blankets or wall hangings you can use either straight or bias binding. I threw something together just so I could have photographs of the demonstration. In hindsight, the colour was probably not the best choice to show up. Hopefully you can see it alright.
Measure the perimeter of the outside edge of your project and be sure that you purchase (or make) enough binding to accommodate that measurement plus a little more, just in case. You need minimally enough to allow for attaching it together. Binding is inexpensive so don’t cheap out and end up short.
Begin by opening up the folded binding and aligning the edge with the edge of your project, right sides together.
Leave a tail of at around 3 inches before you begin your seam. Back tack at the beginning of your stitching and sew in the ditch of the fold closest to your fabric edge. Before you get to the end, measure the width of the seam allowance. Measure from the end in the same distance as the seam allowance (it’s likely to be 1/4″). Put a dot there. Stitch to the dot and leave the needle down in the fabric.
Lift your presser foot and turn the work 45 degrees so that your presser foot is facing directly toward the corner. Stitch to the corner. Remove the work from the machine and clip your threads.
Pull the binding back against that little corner that you just sewed. Then fold the binding tape to align with the top and side. Carefully align your needle at the edge of where the corner of that little seam sits. You will be lined up in the ditch next to where that dot was facing down the next side of the project. Back tack and continue to sew.
Repeat these steps until all the corners are done. Stop stitching just after the last corner and allow a few inches to where you will have to join this end of the binding to your starting edge of the binding.
Make sure that the beginning edge of the binding is cut square. Lay it flat and mark a line 1/4″ from the edge.
Lay the other end of the bias over the top. Trace the line onto this layer of bias. This is your stitching line. Make sure that you cut past the line (the binding must be longer than where this line is marked). This is very important!
With right sides together, stitch the ends together. Clip the corners to reduce bulk. Align the binding to the edge of the fabric and finish stitching the section.
Turn the work and arrange the binding so it wraps around the edge and lays flat. You can see the stitching line on the fabric. What you want to really pay attention to here is that the binding is just barely covering that stitching. Now align your row of top-stitching so that it will sit just a little further onto the binding than the original line of stitching. I suggest testing out with a long stitch before you do it “for real”. The idea is that you want your top-stitching to land up going through both layers of binding. So when you do your test, stitch a few inches and then look at the underside to make sure that your stitches are not landing on the fabric beside the binding. Adjust the alignment of your top-stitching accordingly and away you go.
There is a product called “Wonder Clips” that you can use to hold the binding in place. The edge of the clip can be aligned so that the binding is positioned perfectly front and back. Some people love these. I find them bulky and cumbersome, personally. I do a lot of top-stitching, though. If you don’t, then the clips might be just the thing to help you match up the edges.
When you get to a corner, fold the bulk in the opposite direction of what you did on the opposite side. This will give a neater finish.
Continue in this way until you have made your way around the whole project. And there you have it. YAY!