Quilting Blog

Perfect Bindings in a Flash: How to Use a Bias Binding Foot

how to use a bias binding foot

Imagine you have to add binding to your project using a regular sewing foot: You have to pin, sew, fold and sew again to get the binding in place. If you aren’t perfectly precise, you might end up with a look you’re less than proud of. In this case, the right tools — namely, a bias binding foot — can make all the difference.

Learn how to use a bias binding foot for quick, professional bindings.

Plus, read on for a quick project to practice using your binding foot.

Don’t have a bias binding foot? This foot will soon become a staple in your sewing arsenal. You should go and gift yourself one right now!

What is a binding foot for?

A binding foot is a specialty sewing machine foot used to add a bias binding, a ribbon binding or even a straight-grain binding to finish the edges of any project. Unlike other sewing machine feet, the bias binding foot leaves you with a consistent, professional look, all in just one seam.

The universal adjustable binding foot I’m using here can be used to attach the binding to a straight hem, to outside corners and to relatively wide curves.

If your project has inside corner or steep curves, or if it’s a particularly bulky project (like a quilt with batting), you’re best off using an all-metal binder foot, like the Bernina one pictured below to reduce the risk of getting stuck.

How to use a bias binding foot

Before you start

I would suggest you finish off the raw edges that will go into the binding with either trim and zigzag or serging with a two- or three-thread stitch. This is to keep them aligned and less bulky.

Step 1:

Slide the binding through the presser foot guides and turn the screw on the front of the foot until it barely touches the binding center fold. The left ends should sit perfectly in their guides (upper and lower), so it will feed straight.

feed the binding through the bias binding foot

This bias binding foot can be used with different widths of binding, as the small red markings labeled with numbers shows. You can ignore those numbers — they won’t match with binding measurements.

Step 2:

Snap the foot on and lower the needle. Adjust the second screw until the needle hits the binding tape in the right place.

If your sewing machine can move the needle left to right, you can further fine-tune the place mat.

adjust the needle position on a bias binding foot

Step 3:

Next, imagine a sandwich where the binding is the bread and the fabric you want to finish is the filling. Slide your to-be-finished fabric between the folded binding “bread.” (You can gently open the plastic portion of the foot so you have more room for it.)

Wrap the binding around the fabric so the center fold of the tape sits just along the edge and the two folded edges are on top of one another.

If you’re using a store-bought double-fold bias tape, place the wider half on the bottom of the fabric, toward the feed dogs, to make sure you’re catching the underside while stitching on top.

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As you go, make sure that:

1. The serged edge is touching the center fold of the binding! (The picture below shows where it has to go. I moved the presser foot out of the way just to show you more clearly.)

wrap the binding around the edge of the fabric

2. The binding’s left edges are sitting in both guides — one on top and the other on the bottom of the foot. Here’s how: For the top side, gently pull the binding up with your right hand, keeping your left index finger on the foot, where the black arrows point in the photos below.

slide the fabric into the guides of an adjustable binding foot

For the bottom side, use a stiletto or a seam ripper to better guide the fabric in place. 

sewing a binding with a binding foot

Once everything is in place, you can start sewing, but don’t forget to hold the threads with your left hand so they don’t get tangled toward the throat plate.

Mitered corners with a bias binding foot 

Step 1:

When you’re approaching a corner, sew the bias binding in place right up to the raw edge of the fabric, but not through. Backstitch just one stitch, take the fabric out of the sewing machine, cut the threads and go to your sewing board.

mitering the corner step 1

Step 2: 

Align the center fold of the binding with the next side edge of your project, just past the corner. Make sure the backside fold is 45 degrees. Steam press (or finger press, if you prefer).

mitering the corner step 2

Step 3:

Create the front fold at 45 degrees, steam press (or finger press) again and pin to keep in place until you reach the sewing machine.

mitering the corner step 3

Step 4:

Working far from the corner, slip the fabric under the presser foot, then take the pins out and pull the fabric toward you so the needle is just on top the previous seam. Lower the needle so your fabulous 45-degree mitered corners won’t go anywhere. 

mitering the corner step 4

Step 5:

Holding the threads with your left hand (so they don’t get tangled on the back side of your work), start the seam using a very short stitch length (<1) for the first two or three stitches to seal the seam. Then revert back to your favorite stitch length.

Step 6:

Lift the foot and adjust the binding fabric inside both guides. Use a stiletto for help — it’s like a tiny third hand that can guide the fabric right where it has to go.

mitering the corner step 5

Step 7:

Once you’re done, lower the bias binding foot again and go on sewing until you reach the next corner. I find it’s easier to start at the middle of one of the longer straight sides, so the other end of the binding will simply overlap.

How to finish off with a bias binding foot

A nice way to finish off a binding is to overlap the ends. To do so, when you reach the start point, cut the binding 1/2″ longer, then fold it 1/4″ to the inside. 

finish off a binding with a mitered corner

Swap the binding foot with a regular sewing foot or with a stitch guide foot (like I did) so you’re able to sew through the bulk created by the folds of fabric. Backstitch and you’re done!

last touch with a stitch guide foot

How to easily sew double-sided place mats

Now that you’ve learned the basics, you need a practical yet stylish project to practice. What’s better than double-sided place mats, perfectly edged on both sides, so they can be used (and stained) twice as much? Let’s go!

What you need:

To make these easy double-sided place mats, you need three different fabrics (I have repurposed some old bed sheets, but you can buy any quilting cotton you like).

  • Fabric 1: 18.5″ x 13.5″ (50 cm x 35 cm) for one side of the place mat
  • Fabric 2: 18.5″ x 13.5″ (50 cm x 35 cm) for the opposite side of the place mat
  • Fabric 3: A length of 65″ (170 cm) of a 1″ (2.5 cm) wide tape for the binding (or you can purchase pre-made bias tape)

About my binding choice

Since I’m sewing rectangular place mats, I cut on the straight of grain the fabric for the binding. If you’re adding a binding to anything with curves or you’re adding it to something that’s going to be heavily used, go for a bias binding — it’s more flexible and resistant.

three steps to make a place mat with mitered corners

Step 1:

Spray starch on the wrong side of both place mat fabrics. Place them with wrong sides together and press with a steam iron. Pin together in several places to keep fabrics aligned. 

Step 2:

Finish together the edges with either:

  • Trim (if needed) and zigzag stitches
  • Serge with a two or three-thread stitch

This is to keep edges together when adding the tape.

Step 3:

Attach the binding following the instructions above.

4 bonus tips for binding feet

  1. Use a zigzag or decorative stitch to help keep things together and add even more fun.
  2. Double check that your bobbin is full of thread before you start. It’s awful when you think you are done attaching all of the binding, just to discover the bobbin was empty and you have to start again!
  3. Don’t cut the binding if you need to stop sewing (like if your bobbin ran out of thread). Just slide the whole thing out from the back of the foot, leaving the needle all the way up. When you’re ready to start sewing again, slip the fabric sandwich into the foot and play with the binding until it goes back in place inside both guides.
  4. When attaching the bias binding, there’s no need to use pins. Just go on sewing, making sure the serged edge sits next to the center fold of the binding and the binding’s folded edges stay inside the guides. It’s like magic!

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24 Comments

Emma

I purchased this and have tried to use it many times, but in thin slippy mayerial I just cant get it to work, any tips would be great?

Reply
Irene Valle

Hi Emma!
I had better results when using it with medium weight non-slippy cotton materials, but I would give it a try using spray starch on slippy materials before you sew, and maybe even adding some water-soluble stabilizer (like the embroidery type).
I hope this helps!
Irene @ Serger Pepper

Reply
Ella Duhon

try using a walking foot if you have one it helps grip better to diffeent slick fabrics.

Reply
Carol draper

Will this fit a Janome 9900 if so I want to buy it tu

Reply
Irene Valle

Hi Carol!
I searched for your machine manual on the web (is that the Memory Craft 9900?) and looks like it has a regular low shank attack for the presser feet.
If it’s like this, you should be able to fit one of these: http://amzn.to/29vpLUj (aff. link)
I hope this helps!

Reply
Ruth

Best ever instructions on how to use the binding foot and turning a mitered corner! Thank you so much. I dared to use this foot for the first time after reading this, and the project turned out perfectly.

Reply
Irene Valle

Wohooo! Thank you, Ruth for your sweet words: writing instructions in a non-language (I am Italian) is a great challenge for me and I truly LOVE when I read this kind of comments…

PS: Sorry for my late reply, but I got married at the end of July, so, yo know, the honeymoon and all the rest… I am catching up with everything, now 😉

Reply
Michele Brakewood

With your excellent instructions, I quickly mastered the adjustable binding foot. However, being somewhat mature (OK, old) I remembered from long ago my sister sitting at her old Singer Touch & Sew with a Binding Foot that turned both sides and bound the edge all in one step. All that was required was a binding foot, bias binding, not folded, and whatever you wanted to bind. I have a Viking sewing machine, and Viking clearly didn’t make such a thing. However, Pfaff does! And it is a low shank. Granted, I can’t snap it on like I do Viking feet, I have to unscrew everything and screw the foot on, and it is a very narrow binding, but it works! I’m so excited.

Reply
Ann

I bought a binding foot quite a long time ago thinking it would be great for my quilts but there where no instructions and put it in the to hard basket but I would like to thank you very much your instructions where really what I needed and guess what made sense so thank you and congratulations on a very Important part of your life.I wish you and your husband all the best in life even the up and downs you have on the way are great ( the making up).

Reply
Irene Valle

Hi, Ann!
Glad to hear you enjoyed my instructions, I hate when I buy some fun tools and can’t make them properly work 😉
Thanks for your wishes too <3

Reply
Jo

Had to stop reading after “snap the foot on”. Has anyone seen a decent wide binding foot for a regular screw on machine? Both my machines are vintage 50s/60s models.

Reply
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

I am sorry, Jo. I am not a fan of vintage sewing machines, so I am not fond on this topic. I would probably search for it on Craigslist or at yard sales.
Let’s hope someone else can read this and help you finding it.
Hapoy sewing,
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

Reply
Kathy

I bought mine on ‘Wish’ and was able to choose snap or screw on

Reply
B. Spencer

I have seen where you can buy the attachment for machines to attach feet like this on. Don’t remember if High Shank was available.. saw it at a fabric stor but you can google it to see if you can find it for your machine

Reply
Angela

Thanks for this tutorial! Do you have any tips on using the binding foot with thick projects? I’m finishing up a crochet hook case and at certain points have 5 layers of cotton fabric and 2 layers of low-loft batting. I’m worried the thicker areas won’t feed into the foot properly, or at all.

Reply
Irene Valle // Serger Pepper Designs

Hi, Angela!
I am sorry to say that I don’t think this kind of foot will work for a stiff project. I think you’d better sew the binding in the Good Old “two-steps” method.
This kind of foot works better for medium weight fabrics, but it would be a pain to fit trough a stiff sandwich of fabric 🙁
Happy sewing,
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

Reply
Candice

Can this be used wth knit fabrics?

Reply
Irene Valle

Yes, Candice.
You certainly will need to test each knit fabric you want to try, to make sure you don’t need to add some body to the fabric’s raw edges using some starch or even a water-soluble interfacing. Other than this, I can see no troubles in using it with knits.
Happy sewing,
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

Reply
Irma Morrone

I also need this for sewing lightweight stretch fabric but I need some guidance on how to pretreat the binding material. My question is how to use the starch or what exactly the wash out stabilizer is and how to use it. Do I spray the material with starch and then punch it through a binding maker while pressing it with an iron? I can’t find any tutorials on this.

Reply
Edna Day

Thank you for the tutorial . Now for me to make it work the way you said it works. I will do it!!! Thanks again.

Reply
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

Please try, Edna, and let me know about your results. I am sure you’ll end up binding everything LOL
Happy sewing,
Irene // Serger Pepper Designs

Reply
Marcia

I have two of these feet and I can’t get either to snap on to my pfaff ambition. I’m so sad

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Judie Sefren

I just received my new bias binder foot and out works! The binding tape is a little twisty though. Any suggestions?

Reply
Tracy

I purchased several feet off eBay to start making quilts as Christmas gifts. At first I struggled with the walking foot and the bias binding foot with tutorials until I found yours. It’s so simple to follow, and as I saw in a previous reply you are Italian and English is not your first language. I would not have thought this with the easy way you explained this. Im happy to say though not 100% perfect, hand made rarely is, i have had some lovely comments on how professionally finishes they look. I have you and your tutorials to thank for that…x

Reply

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