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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Sixteen / Fabric Banding

On episode sixteen of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about how to create fabric banding. (Air date Wednesday, May 22, 2019).

You can listen to episode sixteen here: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech Podcast

Banding from Scratch

Adding a banding of fabric to draperies, valances, shades and pillows, creates a beautiful custom detail. You can purchase tapes and banding, and in episode eight of the podcast, Ceil and Susan talked about purchased trims and how they are used. In this episode, the discussion is about making banding from scratch... how to turn fabric into banding.

The photo below is an example of a banding cut from a stripe fabric. Designer: The Red Door Workroom: Susan Woodcock, Home Dec Gal

From figuring the yardage, to planning, cutting and sewing, it takes a lot of time and overall skill and knowledge to make a trim. This episode of the podcast will focus on how to make flat banding trim.

Banding: The Basics

One of the most common banding applications is to place banding along the leading edge of a drapery. The first order of business is to figure how much yardage is needed.

A few questions to ask:

Is it an appropriate fabric for that purpose? A cotton or cotton blend fabric, or a fabric that can be pressed with an iron is the best choice. Velvets, thin silk, polyester or a fabric that frays could be a problem.

Is it a solid or a print fabric? With a solid fabric you can cut pieces for the banding side-by-side without much waste. A print fabric may need to be pattern matched. With a print fabric, you will need to know the horizontal repeat to understand how many matching pieces you can cut.

Can it be railroaded? If the fabric can be railroaded, you can eliminate having to seam the banding pieces together. Click here to learn more about railroaded fabrics in Episode One of the podcast/blog).

Will it need to be stabilized, or lined? If the face fabric is dark, and the banding is of a lighter color then you might need to add a strip of lining under the banding. A fabric that is thin or frays will need to have an interfacing or stabilizer added to the fabric before it is cut.

The ideal choice for easy banding – a solid, cotton fabric that is a darker color than the drapery fabric. Other fabric choices could require more time to fabricate the banding.

Planning for Banding

Ideally, you do not want to have seams in the banding. That means cutting long pieces the length of the drapery and adding a few inches to the top and bottom. You want a continuous, flat band without any interruption. A seam will not be as flat, and can look less than perfect for this purpose.

But, sometimes you have to seam the fabric. Maybe the client already has a fabric, or limited yardage is available and you can’t cut long enough pieces. Or, you can’t cut lengths because of matching a pattern motif. If you must have seams in the banding, try to place them either above, or below eye-level, or where they will be less obvious.

Cutting Banding Strips

Susan likes to cut the strips double the size of the finished banding, and the length needed; including allowances for turning under at each end (railroaded for one continuous piece). Multiply the cut size by how may strips you need to cut. If you are making one pair, then you need two strips, one for the leading edge of each panel. For 2 inch wide banding, cut 4 inch wide strips. That will use 8 inches of fabric. There will be a lot of waste. That’s something you should discuss with the client. You can use less fabric but there will be a seam in the banding.

For a room with a lot of windows you can be very efficient, and get a lot of pieces from one width. For a typical 54 inch wide fabric, you can make enough 2 inch wide finished banding for 6 pair of drapery (twelve, 4 inch strips).

Applying Banding to the Drapery

Prepare the fabric strips by folding the edges under (right sides out), so the cut edges meet in the middle on the back and press with an iron.

There are several different application methods; hand sewing, machine sewing and adhesives. It depends on the project and fabrics. You can use a combination of methods. For example; open up the folded banding and sew inside the fold onto the drapery fabric inset the amount needed), then fold it back over / press / pin and hand sew the other edge. In the two photos below, the banding is sewn along the vertical crease line. The banding is then folded over the seam, pressed, pinned and hand sewn.

Sewing banding to the face fabric
hand sewing banding to the drapery

Fusible tapes, double-sided tapes, and fabric glues are a fast and easy application method and there is little take-up, so the banding is flat and even. Just be sure to test the fabrics first, to make sure the adhesives will work out.

Susan shared that occasionally she will machine top-stitch a banding for something that gets a lot of use like a shower curtain, or pillow.

Inset Banding with Mitered Corners

When an inset banding is both vertical and horizontal along side and bottom hems, you will turn at a right angle, creating a mitered corner. You can plan for one long strip of fabric, and manipulate the fabric so it’s neat and square. That’s a good idea if you plan to secure the mitered corner with hand sewing, or adhesives. But, if you are going to machine stitch the corner, it’s easier to work with two pieces. That might save on fabric, too. The video below shows how to join two pieces of banding with a mitered corner that is sewn.

Edge Banding

Banding that is placed on the edge can wrap from the front, to back. Plan the banding strips wide enough to fold over double on the front and back. If it’s blackout lined, you can also plan for just a seam allowance to turn under… if you are short on fabric. But if it isn’t blackout lined then that will show when light shines through at the window.

When adding a banding strip to the leading edge, the banding that goes to the reverse can also be your side hem. That’s a very pretty finish.

1. Sew the strip to the face fabric, turn and press so that the rest wraps around to the back.

2. Add linings and fold the back edge of the banding over to the reverse.

3. You can finish the backside of the banding by hand sewing, or with adhesives. Using a blind hemmer will catch in the banding on the front.

If adding banding on the sides and bottom, the corner can be mitered, or sewn straight as shown in the photos below. Instructions for the mitered corner wrapped banding can be found in Susan's book Singer(R) Sewing Custom Curtains, Shades and Top Treatments (Creative Publishing International, 2016).

a bias edge banding for a Roman Shade
wrapped banding with a straight seam at the corner

Susan shared that she also adds very narrow banding to the edges of draperies, valances and dust ruffles. "It’s similar to binding a quilt" she said. To do this, layer the face fabric and linings right sides out and sew the strip along the edge through all the layers. The drapery below has a 3/4-inch bias banding on the edge, and matching lining. The banding was machine sewn, turned, pressed and then hand sewn on the reverse.

applying bias banding to the leading edge of a drapery
custom sewing: bias banding on drapery

Wide Bias Banding

For wide bias banding on leading edges of draperies, Susan suggests sewing the bias strips to the fabric on the front, and not wrapping to the back. "I add a micro welt cord in the edge and then sew a facing strip next to cord that serves as the side hem. Once all of that is applied, I add the linings and interlinings". The examples below are class samples from Workroom Tech students. This banding is not doubled, and includes a seam allowance on each side.

bias banding samples from Workroom Tech students

Patterned and Double Banding

When you have a fabric with a patterned stripe, or embroidery, you can create a one-of-a-kind trim that is truly unique. There could be waste between cuts if you are cutting out a specific pattern so plan ahead, and know the horizontal pattern repeat before ordering fabric.

Ceil shared that you can also make double banding, using two fabrics... "that’s a great way to create a customized trim". For examples of this, Susan encourages listeners to check out Rosemarie Garner’s Facebook page; R. Garner Custom Designs LLC. The photo below shows double banding on a Roman shade made by Kendra Hays, Cloudberry Drapery Studio, LLC in Rosemarie Garner's class at Workroom Tech.

double banding on a roman shade

More Design Ideas

Susan shared several custom banding ideas:

1) Two different widths of flat banding used together. For example: a 2 inch banding inset from the edge and then a second, 1-inch banding inset from the larger banding using the same color, or two colors.

2) A fun idea when using two banding pieces is to not miter and turn the corners, but to let the banding pieces go all the way to the edges so that they cross over each other. The photo below shows a top-stitched, overlapped banding on a pillow.

inset banding on a pillow

3) Greek key...the epitome of custom banding! Greek key (and other designs) are made using a flat banding in an intricate pattern. It takes a lot of pre-planning but it is stunning. You can achieve “Greek key light” but just making a stair step pattern at the corners. For a curved design, like a Celtic pattern, you will want to use narrow strips cut on the bias. Many people like to use a bias tape tool when doing these types of designs. The fusible bias tape tool from Clover lets you steam a fusible tape at the same time that you fold and press the cut edges under. Then the banding is pinned in place, following a template and fused in place with steam.


Susan shared that she will price by the yard for flat banding on a drapery based on the application method. "For intricate designs, I will draw out the design and add up the mitered corners and increase the per yard price to cover the extra time for all the turns". Don’t be shocked by the cost! It’s going to be expensive but so is custom trimming from a high-end supplier. You are creating one-of-a-kind embellishment.

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