Update old towels with scrap fabric bias binding

Today I am super excited to share with you how I have updated my scrappy towels, giving them a new lease of life with scrap fabric bias binding. But first today is the beginning of waste week 2017, I am proud to be a blogging ambassador for zero waste week.

How to make fabric scrap bias binding, DIY fabric bias binding - Tutorial #DIYbiasbinding

Why? I make no secret of how I like to reuse and use what I have for my creativity, I am passionate about trying to use what I have rather than using more of the worlds finite resources. Spirituality and faith are not something I talk about (it’s personal) but it is at the core of who I am and therefore impacts how I perceive the world. I believe we each have our own responsibility as to how our lives impact the world. We need to look after our world for future generations. Zero waste week focusses my mind on waste, on what we throw away as a family.  If you are inspired to find out more visit the home of zero waste week, you will be sure to find inspiration.

This week I will be blogging with a focus on zero waste week. Today is all about make do and mend. As you can see this towel is very frayed. I am going to share with you how you can update it with scrap fabric bias binding.




Are your towels looking a little tired, frayed around the edges? Learn how to update them with scrap fabric bias binding. #scrapfabricbiasbinding

Are your towels looking a little tired, frayed around the edges? Learn how to update them with scrap fabric bias binding. #scrapfabricbiasbinding

How to make scrap fabric bias binding

This tutorial is broken down into sections, I suggest reading to the end before you start.

Let’s start by ironing your fabric scraps. Sort them into pieces with the grain running straight.

Pin right sides together along the grain, then stitch. 

Press open the seams on the wrong side.

Cut your fabric on the bias. As my cutting mat does not have bias marking as a guide I have created a paper guide by simply folding a right angled piece of paper in half. The original edge is placed along the grain, the folded edge is your bias guide.

Cut strips along the bias  1 3/4″ or 4.5cm. I started with a cutting mat and rotary cutter but changed the method to tailor’s chalk and scissors due to the limited size of my cutting mat. 

Join your strips, place your strips right sides together at right angles. Sew diagonally across from top left to bottom right (as per the pin).

Fold the outer edges in. I have used a bias binding tool, pull the fabric through and press. There is a knack to this, the more you do the easier it will get. Spray starch can help the folds press good and strong!


How to edge a towel with scrap fabric bias binding

Calculate the volume of bias binding required for your towel. Measure the edges of your towel, my towel measures 182 by 41cm. Therefore I need 182 + 182 + 41 + 41 + 5cm – the extra 5 centimetres is to be on the safe side and to allow surplus for the join.

Open your bias binding folds out, pin the raw edge along the edge of your towel.

When you reach the corner fold your fabric at a 90 degree angle away from your towel. This will give you a diagonal 45 degree angle at the corner.  Press with your finger so that you form a crease, then open out.

Sew along your fold until you reach the 45 degree crease line, back stitch and finish your threads.

Fold your tape to create a 90 angle, with your tape running down along your towel’s edge, pin and then stitch.

Continue around until you reach the starting point. Fold your bias binding so you have a neat folded edge underneath your first piece of bias, stitch over.

Fold your bias binding over to the other side. Pin from the front in along the seam of the towel and bias binding, ensuring you are holding the bias binding on the back. At the corners fold so you form a neat diagonal as on the front and hold with a pin.

Stitch all round along your pinned line. One transformed towel…. I love the result.

Personally, I have had a towel shall we kindly say borrowed from the side of a swimming pool, never to be seen again…. I am trusting no one will dare borrow my unique towel. I’m tempted to edge all my towels whether they are fraying or not! If you love using fabric scraps check out my fabric scrap clutch tutorial. Alternatively there are lots of ideas on All Free Sewing.

Are your towels looking a little tired, frayed around the edges? Learn how to update them with scrap fabric bias binding. #biasbindingtutorial #scrapfabricbiasbinding

What can you make do and mend at the beginning of zero waste week?

39 thoughts on “Update old towels with scrap fabric bias binding”

  1. GOOD MORNING VICKY! You must have known the state of my towels! Yep, gonna try this right soon. After I showered this a.m. I was concerned for one of my favorite towels as I dried off. The folded sewn edges on the long sides were completely worn off, yet the two shorter ends are holding strong. It is not easy to get towels that please me, they must be cotton (some aren’t!), not overly large (wasteful of detergent and water), not too small, and if I had my druthers I like for towels to be striped. Well! To each their own! So… as soon as this 98% perfect towel comes off the clothesline I’m going to try your Vicky-Technique! Thank you.

  2. This is such a great idea! I have several bath towels still in good condition, but the edges are fraying like your photo. I also have scraps! I need to give those towels a little make-over! Thanks for sharing!

    • You are welcome Kathy, so pleased you like the idea:) My towels are over twenty years old, it’s great to give them a longer lifespan.

  3. I LOVE this idea, Vicky! Not only because our otherwise acceptable bathroom towels are getting mangy around the edges, so this would save them, but I can also picture using just one color per towel to help keep them straight so members of the family don’t end up using each other’s towels. You make a good point, too, that nobody could ever “accidentally” mistake your pool towel for his own! And great explanation of binding the corners! Pinning and sharing! 🙂 Lisa

  4. I have been doing this for years. I also cut up towels into wash cloths and bind the washclothes. People talk about my towels and washcloths. Sometimes I send them home with my houseguests. They are so pretty. I cut bias tape without a maker and it works just as well. Press over, then press each side to the middle. Sew as usual.

    • I have to admit it was the first time I have used a bias binder maker, purely due to the quantity I made!! How lovely to send home with your houseguests:)

  5. I had a towel that looked just like yours, and I have to admit I just zigzag stitched it back together because the rest of the towel was nearly new and it would have been a crime to ditch it. But next time I am going to use this idea…. no one will ever know that it was wearing… this looks like an intentional upgrade. Well done.

  6. This is both functional and pretty – I love it. I am a failed seamstress but this winter I have set myself the challenge of doing some form of sewing starting with turning a torn duvet cover into hankies. It may be basic but it represents a big step for me. Wish me luck! #GoingGreenLinky

  7. I love to see people doing what they can to stop waste. I am a Senior Citizen and was taught “Waste Not, Want Not” by my mom who came to adulthood during the depression of the 1930’s and was very frugal the rest of her life. When I was small she made my dresses out of pretty printed feed sacks. Then when I became a teenager she converted men’s dress slacks into straight skirts for me. Keep up the good work, girls!!!

  8. As I watched the video wonderful memories of my mom came back. She and my dad were born during the Great Depression and lived in the country. After they married she bought a sewing machine (Sears) and taught herself how to sew. She made all my clothes as well as hers. One day she decided to take in sewing to make some extra money, she often made $50. a week~ in the 50’s that was a lot!! Then she taught both her sisters how to sew. Mama would sometimes buy scraps of expensive fabric at the fabric store for pennies to make fancy towels out of the frayed ones, everyone thought she bought them!!
    Sorry for going on, thanks for bringing mama back for just a few minutes!! ~Judy

  9. Vicky. We have hard well water here. My kitchen wash cloths always seemed dingy to me. I had a green bath towel that was frayed at the edges. I used a piece of double knit fabric from a no longer worn skirt to make 2inch strips. See one side on then turn under the opposite edge and stitch down. No need to even use bias fabric. Now it’s easy to tell which wash rag are for the kitchen and which for the bath since all the kitchen ones are green

  10. Wow I’ve been so out of touch with anything sewing!!! Trying so hard to get back to it soon my sewing room has been a catch all while our roof had to be replaced, did not know about that little device that folds the fabrics before ironing so nifty, making my list now to go with your towel idea and the zipper pillow thanks happy sewing everyone!!!

  11. This totally blew me away when I saw it on Pinterest. This is amazing and so thinking outside the box. Great Post and tutorial!

  12. Vicky – Wow, Great Tutorial! I have sewn for yrs and always had to buy extra material for bias cutting, whoa, now I can sew all left over pieces together and then cut on bias, duh, where have I been! Thank you so much for your excellent tutorial. My creativity is going wild, can’t wait to get started!

  13. Hi Vicky, that looks fabulous. I thought of doing something similar before but didn’t. Thought it would be pretty ordinary as iI was thinking just one fabric pattern. I just love the patchwork look from the assorted fabrics. Going to do this.

  14. Vicky, this is the best idea I have seen for bias tape making. I have had a set
    of the tools for making bias tape for years and this gives me a great idea. I
    make quilts occasionally and this sure would be great for that binding!! But
    for towels, wow, I am sure I can find towels of all uses at our house – bath,
    kitchen and ever other use. Thanks to you. I am so glad I found your web
    site. Kitty

  15. Love this idea Vicky. I lost both my grandparents and my father over the last two years and we have closets full of clothes that are dated and sometimes stained. Certain patterns bring back memories for me. This is a lovely way to put those items to a good purpose. Thank you!

  16. I don’t know about frayed towels, but I’m going to start making some bias tape!! That is such a fabulous idea!!
    Thank you for the push!!


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