How to sew bias binding for piping

Let’s start a piping palooza.

I love adding little details to my sewing projects. Last month I shared my enthusiasm for fabric yo yos…and this month we’ll explore piping.

You can do so much with piping! And when you do, you’ll feel like a fabulous sewing brainiac.

(or at least something like that!)

But before we jump ahead to the piping, let’s learn how to sew bias binding. Calling it “binding” isn’t completely accurate…it’s more like continuous bias strips for piping. But since it’s “sorta, kinda” like binding…well…

…you know what I mean.

Let’s pipe!

How to sew bias binding for piping. Make a continuous bias strip! By


What You’ll Need:

* Cording. This can be purchased on rolls at your local craft/sewing store, and they’ll cut what you need. Though we won’t use the cording in this lesson, you need to know how thick it is in order to measure your bias strips! It can even be yarn, in a pinch. Just make sure it’s round. :)

* A fat quarter (for this lesson). I mean, if you’re adding piping to an entire quilt or something, you’ll need a yard of fabric….but many times you’ll just need a little piping for smaller project, like to trim a bodice or edge a small pillow. I’m making some smaller projects, so I’m using a fat quarter. This is a pretty dot fabric from Riley Blake Designs.

* A rotary cutter, mat and ruler

* Pins

* Sewing machine, preferably with a quarter-inch foot (6mm foot)

How to sew bias binding for piping

First, cut off any selvage using your rotary cutter and mat. (first photo on the left, below). Next, fold the fat quarter diagonally, meeting at the top edge. We’re making a square, and you’ll have leftover fabric on one side…so just cut this off and keep with your “scrap” fabrics that you’ll use to make something else fantastic someday.

bias for piping collage 1 by sewmccool

Press the fold so you’ll be able to see it, and open your square. Now, line up your ruler along the fold line, and cut your square in half along the diagonal, as shown in the two top photos below.

Now, determine how wide you seam allowance will be on your finished project. Multiply this by 2. Next, multiply the width of your cording by 2. Then add these two figures together to determine how wide to make your strips. For instance….my seam allowance will be 1/2in (13mm). My cording is 1/8in thick (a bit more than 4mm). My seam allowance multiplied by two is 1in. The cording multiplied by two is 1/4in. Added together, this equals 1 1/4in (or 32mm). I’ll cut my strips to this width.

Got that?

(I know. Math. But math can be your friend, so I won’t apologize!)

Line up the diagonal you just cut with one of the vertical lines on your cutting mat, and then cut your strips the width you’ve calculated. You’ll be cutting on the bias of the fabric – that is, where the grain is diagonal. This makes your strip super stretchy!

bias for piping collage 2 by sewmccool

The ends will be angled. Line them up like in the first photo below, with 1/4in (6mm) “ears” sticking out on both sides.

(aren’t those ears cute?)

Next, whip out your quarter-inch foot, if you have one. If not, you’ll just need to use the guide on your throat plate of your machine, because we’re sewing these together with a 1/4in (6mm) seam allowance. If you have the quarter-inch foot, line the edge of the fabric up with the edge of the foot, as shown on my Bernina 1260 below.

Sew these together, and repeat with all of your strips, making one, continuous bias strip.

bias piping collage 3 by sewmccool

See the cute little ears!


(now, chop ’em off, muwahahaha).


(this time I’ll apologize. Math = no apologies. Cutting off ears = apologies).

Admire your handiwork (bottom photo on the right, below).

bias piping collage 4 by sewmccool

Now, press your seam allowances open…

…and then press your bias strip in half, wrong sides together.

bias piping collage 5 by sewmccool

And that, my friends, is how you sew bias binding for piping.

After you’ve mastered this….you’ll want to sew your piping onto your project! In Part 2 of our piping palooza I show you how to sew piping so it’s quick and painless….check it out!


Deanna McCool writes for To make sure you don’t miss a fun tutorial, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! :)


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  1. says

    I love making bias binding, this is exactly how I do it, too. It’s kind of soothing, in a weird way. But I will definitely be coming back to see the piping done – I haven’t made that yet, but I want to – love the look of it!
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