Applying Bias Tape Binding

Instructions Include:

Straight Edge Application
Rounded Objects

Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape

This tutorial corresponds to the Quilted Potholders with Hand Pocket pattern which can be found in our Etsy Shop.

This tutorial begins with applying bias tape binding to the straight edge of a potholder pocket.  Click here to jump to Applying Bias Tape Binding to a Round Potholder Body.

Prior to Starting the Potholder Hand Pocket

Look at your bias binding tape so that you are familiar with how it has been folded.

Step 1 – Pin the Binding to the Edge of the Potholder Pocket

Start with your potholder hand pocket(s) right side up.

Open up the binding strip and make sure the raw edge of the narrower side of the strip is on your right.  The rest of the binding will be to the left and resting on top of the hand pocket.  Align the edge of the bias tape with the edge of your potholder hand pocket and pin right down the crease.

The potholder hand pocket sandwich consists of two pieces of fabric and a piece of thin batting.  It is thinner than the potholder body sandwich so it will be very simple to sew.

Because it is so thin, you can sew right down the center of the pinned crease which is 3/8″ in from the edge of your pocket.

Step 2 – Sew the Binding and Set the Seam

Once you sew the binding down, take your piece to the iron and give that seam a nice press. This will serve to set the seam so that when you turn your binding, it will make a nice crisp fold.

Before turning the binding to the back, give the binding another press toward the edge of the pocket so that it is naturally laying in the right direction.

Again, this press will help your binding lay nice and flat for a crisp look on the front.

Step 3 – Turn the Binding and Encase the Edge

If you look closely at the pictures below, you will see that I have placed three pins right down the sewn edge of the binding.  This area is also known as “in the ditch” because you are working right on top of your first seam.

You are still working on the front of the potholder pocket.  The goal here is to catch the folded edge of the binding on the back.

If your pins on the back are through the binding, you know you will have enough of the binding overlapping that seam line so that when you stitch from the front (in-the-ditch), you will most definitely catch the binding on the back.

Step 4 – Stitch-In-The-Ditch

You are still working with your potholder pocket face up.  Sew right on the seam line pulling your pins as you go.

If you look closely at the picture below, you can see at the top of the pocket, I’ve stitched (in-the-ditch) with a light colored thread.  Notice that you can only see my stitching line right at the top where I wasn’t 100% in that ditch.  The rest of the way down that ditch however, my seam line is so spectacularly sewn, you can’t see it at all!  And that’s the goal.

When the hand pocket is turned to the back, you will see that I was successful in catching the binding strip.

Because the back of the potholder hand pocket will not be seen, my thread color doesn’t matter.  For projects where the back will be visible, use a thread that matches your binding strip, or finish the binding with a hand stitch.

Trim off excess bias tape at top and bottom of potholder hand pocket.

Applying Bias Tape Binding to the Potholder Body

Step 1 – Measure Potholder Body

Measure each side of your potholder to know how much bias tape will be needed to go around the entire potholder.  If you are making a round potholder, measure the circumference using a vinyl tape measure.

The potholder above is 28 1/4″ around.  Cut a piece of bias tape that is the circumference of your potholder plus 1″.

NOTE:  I have a super cool way of creating a loop binding (binding that is already in a sewn together circle) for your potholder.  The technique is for an advanced level sewist because it can be a wee bit tricky.  I would love it if you would try it out and let me know if it works for you.  Disclaimer – I take no responsibility for failed projects or unpicking of seams.  If you are brave and are interested in trying it out, go to the Bias Tape Loop Binding tutorial.

Step 2 – Prepare the Bias Tape

Open up your bias tape with the narrower end (the end that you will be aligning with the edge of your potholder) to your right.

At the upper edge of the tape, press a diagonal crease as shown in the picture below.

Once you have folded the diagonal crease, trim off the edge so that you have a 1/4″ seam allowance past your crease.  See picture below.

Now you can press the original folds back into the tape making sure to keep that 1/4″ diagonal fold in place.

Step 3 – Mold the Bias Tape

When working with something round, I find that it is helpful to mold the bias tape with my iron prior to applying it to the edge of the project.  The molding process helps the tape be more flexible.  This is not necessary for Square, Rectangular, or Hexagonal items.

First you need to make sure you are molding the tape in the correct direction.  The narrow edge will be next to your potholder edge which will be the edge that goes into your sewing machine.  So starting on your right, the bias tape will be molded in a clockwise direction.

Step 4 – Pin Bias Tape to Potholder

Open up the narrow edge of the bias tape.  Starting somewhere mid hand pocket (do not begin/end too close to the hand pocket binding), start pinning the tape in place.

Tip: If you pin your hand pockets in place (see my yellow pin heads in the photo below), it is not necessary to pin all the way through both layers when pinning your bias tape.  This is important because when you pin through the two thicknesses, you have distortion on the back which can lead to accidentally stitching puckers and twisted edges into the back.  You don’t want this.

The bias tape should lay perfectly flat.  Use as many pins as you need.

Step 5 – Closing the End of the Bias Tape

When you reach the point where you began pinning, you will have some overlap. The goal here is to be very certain there is enough of the end of the bias tape to fit on top of the beginning of the tape so that none of the potholder shows between.

Note that in the photo below, I cut the end of the tape on the diagonal going in the same direction as the diagonal cut of the tape below it.  You can also see that there is about 1/2″ of overlap of that top piece of the tape.  CAREFUL HERE.  If you cut too much, you will have a gap in your binding and you won’t be happy.

Step 6 – Finish Pinning

Place the end of the bias tape on top of the beginning tape (maintaining that 1/4″ fold at the bottom), line up the creases and re-pin.  Your potholder is now ready to sew.

Step 7 – Sewing the Bias Tape to the Potholder

When you stitched the bias tape to your potholder hand pockets, you stitched right in the crease of the bias tape.  You were able to do this because the hand pocket is pretty thin.

The potholder body however, has the additional layer of insul-bright so stitching in the crease is not going to give you the best results.

What you are going to do instead, is stitch about 1/16″ to the right of the crease.  This will insure that when you turn the bias tape to the back, there will be enough of the tape to encase the edge and cover your initial stitch line.

If you stitch in the crease, your binding will go around to the back but you may not be able to cover the stitching line.  This will result in you not being able to catch the back when stitching-in-the-ditch to finish your potholder.  And that won’t look very good.

Step 8 – Turn Bias Tape to Back

At this point, I still like to set my seam with the iron.  Give your seam a good press and then turn it all to the back.

Step 9 – Tuck the Edges

Go around the edges with your fingers and make sure all the fabric is tucked into the curve and is nice and flat.

Step 10 – Pin

Pin your tape in place just like you did with the potholder hand pocket.  Your front and back will look like the photos below.  Make sure you catch the binding in the back.

Stitch-in-the-ditch from the front, pulling your pins as you go.


Voila!  You’re finished.

If you are interested in finishing the back of your potholder with a hand stitch, go to the Invisible Ladder Stitch tutorial.