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So, you finished sewing together the body of your quilt, and you’re feeling like a rockstar. Yeah, I know that feeling. Like you could take on the world… but what you really want to do is just keep quilting. Well, hold on to that feeling, baby, because you still have to finish off your quilt with a killer binding.
Hopefully this whole binding business doesn’t come as a surprise to you – most quilts look great with the finishing touch of a good binding. Put simply, the binding of a quilt is a strip of fabric that is used to cover the raw edges of a quilt. If you want to talk binding basics, check out this tutorial on sewing binding to a quilt, and mosey back on over when you’re feeling comfortable with the concept.
Quilter, Meet Bias Binding
Now that you and binding are getting along, it’s time to meet basic binding’s quirky cousin: Bias Binding. Bias binding gets its name from the way the binding cloth is cut. There are three ways to cut your fabric:
- Lengthwise (also known as Warp)
- Crosswise (also known as Weft)
If you’re holding your fabric with the selvage edge on the left and/or right, lengthwise and crosswise are exactly what you might guess: cutting along the length of the cloth, parallel to the edge, or cutting across the cloth, perpendicular to the edge. Both lengthwise and crosswise grains are referred to as “straight” grains because they are cut along the grain of the fabric.
And then… there’s bias. Crazy, rules-be-damned bias is a diagonal cut across the fabric. I know, it’s pretty wild.
So when it comes to bias binding, we’re talking about using a diagonal-cut strip of fabric to finish off the raw edge of the quilt. I know what you’re thinking: why on earth do we have to bring diagonal-cut cloth into something as straightforward as binding? Well you certainly don’t have to. But here’s why you might want to break out of your comfort zone and give it a try.
Bias Binding Superpowers
From super strength to super flexibility, bias binding is the superhero of quilt binding. Check out these stats:
Bias binding has super strength. Yes, quilting scientists from across the globe have proven that the bias grain of fabric wears better on the binding. So if you’re planning to drag your quilt around and actually use it… and wash it… you might want to consider adding some sturdiness with a bias binding. (Also, you might want to consider becoming a quilting scientist.)
Bias binding is super flexible. This is especially true on curvy edges. Have you ever tried to bind a tightly curved edge with a straight grain? It puckers up like your grandma on a holiday. The binding fabric cut is super stretchy, and bias binding gives your curvy edges a flat and smooth finish. That’s what we’re looking for.
Bias binding looks super cool. This is especially true if you’re using a striped, or other directional print. Since bias binding is a diagonal cut, it’s going to stand in contrast to the rest of the quilt, and make it look cool. And make you look cool.
- Bias binding can vanquish pesky seams. If you really cut things close (quality pun right there) and didn’t leave yourself very much extra fabric for binding, bias binding can help you make the most of it, especially if you don’t want a million seams along your binding edge. This is especially true if you use the magical method of the “continuous bias binding.” More on that bit of wizardry later.
Bias Binding Basics: How to Make It.
So how do you get a piece of this bias binding goodness? Let’s take this step-by-step:
Step 1. Crunch Some Numbers
Okay, don’t worry, we’re not talking about Calculus here. Just some easy stuff. Once you pick the fabric you want to use for your bias binding, you need to figure out how much of it you’ll need.
Bias binding length: Measure each side of your project, and add 10 - 12 inches to give yourself some wiggle room.
Bias binding width: Everybody’s got their own creative flair when it comes to binding width, usually ranging from ½” to 3”. Consider whether you’re going with a single or double fold, and land on that perfect number of inches.
Total yardage needed for bias binding: Let’s take a minute and thank the quilters of yesteryear for coming up with a handy formula for bias binding yardage. Ready for this?
The Magical Math Formula for Bias Binding:
- Find the total inches of bias binding you need by multiplying length x width.
Sample: My quilt needs 156” of bias binding, 2” wide. 156 x 2 = 312
- Get out the ole’ calculator (or use the one on your phone) and find the square root of that number, and round up to the next whole number.
Sample: The square root of 312 is 17.663. Round that up to 18.
- Add 2” to 3” for seaming the strips together.
Sample: 18 + 3 = 21.
- We need a 21” x 21” square of fabric to have enough for our bias binding!
Note: If you’re totally lost, just google “calculate bias binding.” Thanks, internet.
Step 2. Cut. It. Out.
Now that you know how much fabric you need (phew… glad that’s out of the way…) lay out your fabric and get out your fabric-cutting-weapon-of-choice. Now, you could just measure, mark, and cut out diagonal strips, 2” wide… or you could try some of this fanciness.
It’s called “Continuous Bias Binding” aka “Bias Binding for Overachievers.” No joke, it’s pretty awesome. It will make you feel like a quilting superwizard.
Through researching this, I found a handy machine that helps to make it. I can't say that I've tried it, but it looks like it could be a real time-saver.
Step 3. Connect the strips, and bind like you’ve never bound before!
If you went all quilting-rockstar on us and tried continuous bias binding, you may not have very many seams to sew. If not, you may have to stitch together your strips before you finish up the binding process. (And again, if you need to jog your memory a bit on binding, read this post.
Buying Bias Binding Fabric
So, if you’re the kind of person who buys store-bought cupcakes and puts them on one of your own plates… you might want to have someone else do the bias-binding dirty work for you. Welp, you’re in luck! A lot of places sell pre-made bias binding.
You can find some here and here, or check a craft store near you! What do you think? Is bias binding all it’s cracked up to be? Also, do you make and sell bias binding or know of other places to buy it? Comment below!