Want to learn how to make Bias Binding for your quilt?
You might need to grab a cup of tea or coffee for this post. It involves math… need I say more?
You may call me crazy but the binding is really a favorite part of the quilt making process for me… It’s the home stretch after all, and you get to see everything come together… I just love it!!! And I want you to love it too!
Although bias binding is stronger (wears better) than straight grain binding, you really only need to use bias binding if your quilt (or other project) has curved edges. Bias binding strips are cut on the 45 degree angle of the fabric, and therefore stretch easily around curves. There are several methods of making bias binding and I’m going to show you how I make it. I typically purchase my binding fabric right off the bolt so I like to calculate how much I will need based on a yardage cut rather than a square cut of fabric as some tutorials demonstrate. We will assume that your standard off the bolt fabric is aprox 42″ wide with selvages removed. So, let’s get started…
bias binding ~ 1/2″ seam allowance
I’m using my Sampler quilt as the ‘math’ demo, and since it has rounded corners I needed to make bias binding. You will need to know your quilt top dimensions and the desired width of your binding strips before you begin.
BINDING WIDTH The key to how wide to cut your binding strips is in your desired binding width or binding seam allowance. The following chart helps to demonstrate what strip width to cut based on the binding seam allowance you are using. When piecing your quilt top the standard seam allowance is 1/4″, therefore if your pattern extends to the edge of the quilt or you have points on the edge (no border) then you may need to go with a 1/4″ binding seam. This ensures that your finished results (quilt top) will be correct (and you won’t sew into your points). Still with me? Here is a chart showing typical seam allowances and possible strip widths:
Cut binding strip width to:
2”, 2 ¼” or 2 ½”
2 ¼” or 2 ½”
2 ½”, 3” or 3 ¼”
You might be wondering… Why the variations in widths? If your using a low loft batting and quilting cotton (like my example) then you will go with a narrower width. But if you are using a high loft batting and perhaps flannel or a heavier weight fabric then go with a wider width strip even though you are using the same seam allowance. This will give you a little extra binding to accommodate the thickness of your quilt.
Another thing to think about (as if that wasn’t enough) is if you like your binding tight, so when you fold it over to the back side it just covers your stitches or maybe you like it a little looser so it extends beyond your back stitches more. If you’re a beginner, go with a wider binding that corresponds to your desired seam allowance, it might be the easiest option. All these things factor into your width choice. Make sense?
Math for a 60″ x 74″ quilt top.
I want to use a 1/2″ seam allowance
My batting is low loft but I have lots of seams along the edge of my quilt top so I’m going a little wider than usual to accommodate a little more bulk ~ 3 1/4″ binding strips.
60 + 60 + 74 + 74 = 268″ perimeter
add 12″ extra (for piecing the strips, corners, finishing etc) = 280″ adjusted perimeter#
Now divide 280″ by 42 (useable width of fabric) = 6.6 and round this number up to 7 (next whole number)
Multiply 7 x the 3.25 (width of binding strips) = 22.75″
I WILL NEED 22.75″ OF FABRIC OFF THE BOLT FOR MY BINDING!
Does your head hurt now? I don’t want your head to hurt, so to make this easier, print off this EASY binding yardage worksheet to figure it out ~ just write in your numbers! :)
Phew! Ok, so how do you cut your bias strips? I’m starting with my 22.75 width of fabric off the bolt and first I like to cut my selvages off ~ and I always cut 1″ off my selvage edge.
As a side note I save all my selvages for a future project… so throw them in a vase or other fun container in your sewing space… you never know when you may want to make a fun selvage project…
Now that your fabric selvages are trimmed off, open your fabric up.
fabric is right side down
Fold down top left corner to meet bottom edge.
Place your ruler along the fold edge and cut the edge of the fold off.
trim aprox 1/8″ from fold edge
Remove the cut triangle without turning.
cut piece is right side up
Important ~ rotate the cut triangle counter clockwise so the bottom edge of the triangle (shown in picture above) is now the right edge of the triangle (see picture below). Move the rotated triangle over to the right.
place RSD piece on top of RSU piece (now right sides together)and align right edges
Slide the triangle under the larger cut of fabric so they are right sides together and align the right side edges. Pin and sew the right edge.
triangle on bottom RST with right edges aligned ~ sew right edge
Open seamed unit and you should have a parallelogram. Press seam open.
seam and press open
Bias strips will now be cut along bias (45 degree) edge.
If your ruler isn’t long enough to cover length of the bias edge, you can move it as you cut or you can fold your fabric keeping the bias edge aligned.
Place your ruler along the bias edge and cut your desired strip width ~ for the example I’m cutting 3.25″ strips.
cut strips on bias edge
The ends of your strips will be ready to piece together to form your continuous bias binding.
Place two ends right sides together ~ notice ends are offset slightly ~ sew 1/4″ seam.
Press the seam open and trim off ‘dog ears’.
Note: If you are piecing together straight grain binding or bias binding with a straight end on your strip, overlap your ends an sew on a diagonal from outside edge to outside edge. Trim excess and press seam open
Sew all strips together and press all seams open. Take this long piece to the ironing board, fold and press in half on the length to finish making your binding. I like to use best press, which is a starch alternative, to make my binding nice and crisp. I’m addicted to the Caribbean Beach scent, but it also comes in other scents or scent free.
Now Your DONE with making your bias binding!!!
If you want to see more of this quilt, here are all the