If you are a gadget person, you will just love the binder foot (also called the binding foot). It has little screws to adjust the foot and a slide rule to insert the binding. It does a great job of joining the binding and fabric all in one. The binder foot is a ‘must-have’ tool for your sewing toolbox if you regularly sew bias tape or do quilting.
Binder Foot Tutorial
If you look at the binder foot, you will see that it has a snap-on bar to attach to your machine and then a plastic extension with width markings on it.
Your binder foot will take a bias tape of various widths and is designed to sew double-fold bias to the edges of your sewing projects. It is a quick and easy way to ensure the edges underneath are caught in as you sew in one motion.
Further Reading - Types of Bias Tape
Nearly all the binder feet I have seen have widths marked in metric millimeters.
The most common size for double-fold bias is ½ inch (12mm).
If you sew with imperial measurements and need some conversions for the bias tape widths:
- 10mm = ⅜ inch
- 12mm = ½ inch
- 15mm = ⅝ inch
- 20 mm =⅞ inch
- 25mm = 1 inch
How to Adjust Wheels on the Binder Foot
There are 2 screws on the binder foot. The screw at the back positions the needle left or right so you can sew on the edge of the bias tape.
The wheels at the front of the plastic part of the binder foot can adjust to the width of the bias tape.
Like most sewing presser feet, you can get a binder foot to match your machine's brand or a generic one purchased individually or in a kit. Mine is a generic branded one that I purchased on eBay. I have a Janome sewing machine, and it fit and worked beautifully.
How to use a Binding Foot
Most of the time, bias tape is made from 100% cotton fabric which is light to medium in weight. Use a universal needle to sew your bias in a corresponding thickness.
Further Reading - Sewing Machine Needle Sizes
Step 1 - Insert Bias Tape
Before you attach the foot to your sewing machine, insert the binding into the slot in the plastic section. If you hold the foot up at the front, you will see a slot where to insert it.
IMPORTANT - Double-sided bias tape is usually shorter on one side than another. Make sure the bias is inserted with the shorter side on top.
Practice easing the binding onto the foot until you feel confident. You can use a pin to guide it at the back if it gets caught. The bias tape should stick out at least ½ inch (12mm) at the back of the foot.
The screw on the width adjustment should sit nice and tight next to the edge of the bias tape. It actually takes a surprising amount of turns to move the bar, so be patient and keep turning.
Step 2 - Attach Foot to Machine
Put the foot with the binding inserted into the machine. It should just snap in place. Make sure the threads are out of the way and not caught up.
With the handwheel, turn gently so you can check the position of the needle. It should be aligned just slightly in from the edge.
If necessary, adjust the back screw on the foot so the needle moves across either left or right. If you can't get it exactly right, you can move the needle to the left with your machine needle dial. I used my machine dial to get a very small adjustment at the end.
Hold the threads to the side and take a few stitches on the binding to hold it in place.
Step 3 - Insert Fabric
Insert the fabric between the bias edges and into the plastic slot. Smooth the fabric down the length of the bias.
Most of the time, bias tape is sewn with a straight stitch, but this binder foot will also work with a zig-zag stitch that catches in the edges.
Take it slow to be sure the machine stitches catch both sides as you ease in the binding and it is steadied by the binding foot.
It is important to always try a sample first on some scrap fabric. Practice letting the bias binding rest gently over your hands and into your lap as you guide it over the fabric you are binding.
You can see from the finished edge that the back and front are perfectly caught in. Because the bias edge of the underneath is a little wider, the stitching is just a fraction further back from the edge.
Alternatives to a Binder Foot
The alternative to using a binder foot is to attach binding the old-fashioned way. If you are sewing lots of curves and corners, this can take less time in the long run.
Here are some tutorials to read that show you how to sew bias tape.
- How to Sew Single Fold Bias Tape
- How to Sew Double Fold Bias Tape
- How to sew Mitred Square Corners with Bias Tape
Binder Foot - In Conclusion
The beauty of the binder foot is it is adjustable and flexible. The binder foot is a really useful gadget to bring some finishing touches to your work. A circular skirt, a pretty tablecloth, or exquisite quilt will all benefit from bound edges that look really professional.
Go on, give it a try you are bound to be captivated by this really useful sewing tool.