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Using a Binding Foot

Binding foot

This binding foot tutorial is written by Linda from Sewing Bee Fabrics who sell fabric, haberdashery and sewing accessories. Find more tutorials on their site.

This sewing machine foot makes adding binding unbelievably easier than doing it free hand and gives a beautifully uniform finish.  

First of all you need to choose your binding.  You can either use shop bought binding or make your own (tutorial here). You can either use fabric that been cut on the bias (at a 45 degree angle) or cut straight. The bias cut tends to be stronger and have more stretch which is why it is the favourite for shop bought bindings. I wouldn’t recommend combining cuts from different angles as the different fabric properties may pull your piece out of shape over time.

I recommend cutting the length a little longer than you think you need, just in case.  If you are making your own bias binding you want to cut a fabric strip 4 times the width what want on show on the outside of the material.  I start of by pressing the material in half along the whole length. Next I fold the outer edges to meet the central line, then I press again then pin place.

Make your own bias binding

Alternately you can make life quicker, easier, and straighter for yourself by using a bias making tool. Most domestic sewing machines have clip on and off interchangeable feet – often with a little lever at the back to release it. Simply switch out your standard foot and clip this one in.

Fold your binding in half. Shop bought or tool-made binding is often not created equal. The underside is usually slightly wider so that as you are stitching you are less likely to miss the binding as there is a larger error margin for the part you can’t see.

Sew with commercially made bias binding

Make sure the screw at the front is untwisted enough to give plenty of space for the binding. Thread the edges into the top and bottom shelves. Sometimes it’s easier to position it in the middle then wiggle the ends into the shelves than it is to thread it through, especially for bulkier bindings.

Threading through bias binding

As you push your binding through, sometimes it can get stuck against the presser foot section so just angle it down as you go. Pull the binding through until it is just passed the presser foot.

Use the screw on the front right to tighten the alignment until the plastic guide sits flush to the centre crease of the binding. You may need to readjust this again after your first few stitches as the tension on the binding may change.

Different sewing machine feet

I find it easier to line the fabric up by sliding it between the shelves in the binding feeder, then backwards towards the needle. If your fabric is curved, don’t worry about trying to line all the binding around the edges. As long as they are pushed up together under the foot, you can guide the fabric and binding to bring them together as you stitch.

Sew with a bias binding foot

Next untighten the back screw.

Adjusting a sewing machine foot

Slide the binding feeder left or right until the needle position is as far towards the centre or edge as you need. Be careful not to stitch too close to the edge or you are more likely to slip off the binding and have it prone to being pulled away from your fabric.

Beginners sewing machine guides

When starting to stitch, it is worth noting that you can only anchor down with 2 or 3 back stitches. I have found that more than this tends to lead to a tangled thread mess as the previous stitches have closed over the binding so the material has nowhere to go.

When stitching together, I tend to use my right hand to guide the binding and make sure it stays aligned, and use the left hand to constantly push the edge of the fabric up against the binding.


Learning to sew

If the binding starts to twist or move out of the shelves, stop the machine straight away. If you can’t slide it easily back in position, use a pin to draw the binding back onto the shelf. Don’t leave the pin in as you sew!

PRoblem shooting sewing with bias binding

Should you have any need to stop part way through e.g. needing to rethread, there is no need to cut the binding. Simply shuffle it towards the back of the sewing machine with the needle up in the highest position to release the thread tension, then slide the binding out from the shelves into the centre, where it can easily be removed. To restart, just do the reverse.

Start with the material behind the sewing machine. Push the binding into the centre of the plastic feeder and wiggle it back into top and bottom shelves. From there, simply pull gently towards you until you hit the tension created by meeting your previous stitches. Align the needle as before to get a seamless join.

If you have made your own binding, you are likely to have seams where you have joined fabric lengths together. This makes the binding bulkier as it goes through the feeder. Sometimes this can get a little stuck. I usually find that if you very gently pull the fabric/binding that has already been through just as you go over the seam then it tends to glide through much easier.

To finish off, I always leave about half an inch at the end unstitched. I switch back to a multipurpose presser foot. Trim the binding leaving enough to fold the ends back under themselves whilst having a slight overlap. Make sure they wrap around the fabric at the same depth so you cannot see where the join is, then stitch into place.

Having had the embarrassment before of thinking I have the perfect binding only for it to pull right away where the stitching had only just caught the edge of the fabric, I always do a top stitch as close to the edge as I can to really be sure it is anchored into place. Once you’ve seen how easy and professional this looks I dare you to try not to bind every curved raw edge you can for many projects to come!