|Make yards and yards of continuous bias tape...|
Several bloggers have already posted about this method of making continuous bias tape over the past year. I will add my voice to the masses and say that it is a wonderful way to make a whole lot of bias binding with just two cuts and two seams. No need to cut, cut, cut, cut and then sew, sew, sew, sew.
And because this topic is not original in the least, I'm hoping that my value-added contributions will make the repetition worthwhile. I will be adding some tips on how to fold the resulting bias tape so that it looks just like store-bought double-folded bias binding.
Therefore, there are two parts to this tutorial. The first describes how to make the continuous strip of bias tape out of a square of fabric, and the second part describes how to fold and press it to make professional style bias binding.
PART 1: Make a Continuous Strip of Bias Tape
Take a square of fabric and cut it across the diagonal.
|Cut the square of fabric on the diagonal...|
Flip the bottom half over and place it on top of the other (with right sides together) so that the diagonal cut edges form an "x".
|Sew the first seam...|
Offset the top corners by a 1/4" (6mm) on both sides and pin. Sew across the top edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. NOTE: because you'll be cutting across this and the other sewing line, sew with a short stitch length.
Press open the seam and place the fabric wrong side up in front of you, laid out as a parallelogram.
|Draw lines on the back of the fabric according to the desired width of your bias binding...|
Use a pencil to draw lines across the entire width of the fabric, 2" apart. This will result in a 2" strip that will be used to make the required double fold 1/2" bias binding for my hanging file organizer project. (If you want to make binding of a different width, just draw your lines 1", 1.5", or whatever the width, apart.) Depending on the size of your original square of fabric, you'll likely end up with a last row that is too narrow.
The next step is the trickiest of this whole process, but once you understand it, it's not hard to master. The objective is to bring the left and right sides together and sew a second seam to create an offset fabric tube.
|Match up the lines from one side to the other, offset by one line each time...|
However, in order to be able to cut a continuous strip of fabric at the end of this process, you need to match the sides in a "step diagonal" fashion, matching the beginning of one of those drawn lines with the end of the next line. (And of course, your fabric should be kept right sides together during this process.)
As indicated by the red lines in the diagram above, the top left corner edge of the fabric needs to be matched up with the end of the first line on the right, the beginning of the first line on the left needs to be matched up with the end of the second line on the right, etc.
|Pin edge to edge, matching the start of one line with the end of the line underneath it...|
Pin and re-pin as necessary; you'll need to be fairly accurate in order for this to work properly. Focus on maintaining a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance when you pin the two sides together, and check both sides of the fabric at that 1/4" mark to ensure that your pin intersects a line on both sides.
|Check both the top and bottom of your pins to ensure that they are hitting the lines on both sides...|
When you're satisfied, sew the 1/4" (6mm) seam and press it open carefully. You should now have a slightly odd shaped fabric tube that looks something like this (I've highlighted the lines in red to show them more clearly)...
|After your seam has been pressed open, you should be able to see the lines continuing across it...|
Now you're ready for the fun part: cutting the (one) long strip. Start at one end and you'll end up cutting around and around and around until you come to the other end. (Again, depending on what size of a square you started with, the last little bit may not be the right width; just snip it off and add it to your scraps.)
|Start cutting and keep cutting... until you have yards and yards of your own bias tape!|
Once you've made bias tape this way, you'll never, ever, ever do the "cut strips and then sew" method again... guaranteed! (You can do this with any size square of fabric, although be aware that the smaller you go, the more seams your finished bias tape will have.)
For my hanging file organizer project that you'll see in a couple of weeks, I simply folded this tape in half and pressed it. The crazy thing is...
|A handy tool to have...|
... I forgot that I had this bias tape making tool!
PART 2: Make Double-Fold Bias Binding with Bias Binding Tool
This is a 25mm or 1" bias tape maker, meant to accommodate a 2" strip of fabric. It was an eBay purchase for less than $2, but I've seen name brand ones go for five times that price.
Whatever your preference, I highly recommend that you get one to complete this tutorial, because it will be time-consuming to do the folding and pressing "manually".
|Push fabric into bias tape maker with a seam ripper or a pin...|
The continuous bias tape that you make will have tapered ends, which is easier to feed through one of these bias tape makers. Push the pointy end in and use a seam ripper to guide and push the fabric out, until you can grab it.
With your iron at the ready, pull out the folded tape and press it. Ensure that the raw edges of the tape are slightly apart in the middle as shown below.
|Keep the raw edges of the tape slightly apart in the middle when you press it...|
Keep that middle gap consistent as you "pull and press".
|Folded with a gap in the middle...|
When you're done pulling and pressing, make the second fold (the "double" part of the double-folded bias binding) by folding the tape in half. However, fold it so that one edge just extends beyond the other; i.e., one side is slightly wider than the other.
|Finished bias binding all rolled up and ready to use...|
Store bought double-folded bias binding is made this way with one side wider than the other. This is to ensure — theoretically, anyway — that when you sew along the edge of the narrower side of the binding, the stitching will automatically secure the binding on the reverse side, since it's wider. However, results may vary depending on the thickness of what you're binding... and the technique that you use.
Maybe you can try it out in a couple of weeks by making my updated version of the hanging file organizer.