Does the thought of how to make bias binding have you running as far away from your sewing machine as possible? Even though straight grain binding may be a little more time-efficient, there are a lot of benefits to making your next quilt binding on the bias! And the best part? It's actually easier than you think. Seriously!
If you're like me, shaking up an old technique and trying something new can be intimidating, so what better way to learn than with a video tutorial! Scroll below to find a fantastic 10 minute video on how to make bias binding. You'll be running back towards your sewing machine to get started before it's even over.
This week, guest blogger Karen Wade of Bessie Pearl Textiles shares her tips for making bias binding. Karen’s business focuses on selling pre-made bias binding, so she’s an expert! Inspired by the sewing heritage passed down by her grandmothers, Bessie and Pearl, Karen started Bessie Pearl Textiles after having her first child.
Karen offers a large selection of pre-made bias binding for quilters who would rather purchase their binding, and is sharing the tricks of her trade in this handy bias binding guide and video tutorial!
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Well, congrats! You’ve worked hard and made a beautiful quilt and now it’s time to bind it! I’m probably in the minority but binding is my favorite step. I love how it outlines a quilt and a good binding really sets off the quilt design without competing with it. Like icing on a cake y’all.
But why spend extra time making special binding? And what’s the difference between bias and regular binding? I’ll explain it all and then show you how to make your own. I’ve even sprinkled in some of my most helpful tips on the process that I’ve learned in the last 6 years of making bias binding! Like sprinkles on a cake. Can you tell I’m hungry while I’m writing this?
Bias Binding Materials
This step-by-step video will help you make your own bias binding out of any fabric you like! Watch the video and then keep reading for information about how bias binding can be a game-changer for your quilts.
So What is Bias?
The term bias, in the fabric world, refers to cutting your fabric on a 45-degree angle. When you get your fabric off the bolt, it has a selvage edge (a finished edge where the designer has usually put a cute label in printed fabrics) and a cut edge (the end that has been cut from the bolt).
Fabric is woven with threads that run at a 90-degree angle to each other and create the grain of the fabric. Cutting your fabric on a 45-degree angle is what we call cutting on the bias grain. If you’re working with a square, you would cut from one corner across to the other corner and have two triangles.
When you cut your fabric on the bias, all of a sudden it dances and sings! No? Okay, but it does have a lot more movement and ease to it which can make the binding process much easier. So why should I cut my binding on the bias instead of the straight grain?
Bias Binding is Stronger
Bias cut strips are stronger and wear longer. The edges of your quilt often show the first signs of wear. Threads cut on the bias grain are stronger than straight grain threads so your binding will hold up longer. And I’m pretty sure all of us want our quilts to last after all the blood, tears, and time we’ve put into them!
Bias Binding Stretches
Bias binding stretches so it will give you a binding that lays smoother on a straight edge and will easily stretch around a curved edge.
You Can Create New and Interesting Binding Looks with Prints
I love a good directional print, and cutting fabric on the bias can give it a whole new look and create an interesting detail to your quilt. This gingham fabric was used for a quilt back but then cut on the bias for the binding. The binding complements and coordinates with the quilt but also is an interesting detail. One of my favorite things is to take a gingham print and cut it on the bias—I just love the look of it on an angle!
It Doesn’t Fray!
This alone is a good enough reason for me to use bias binding instead of straight grain binding. Threads cut on the bias will hardly fray, which helps keep all your quilt edges looking nice and neat and creates fewer threads to clip away at the end. One less thing to do? Win!
TIP: Smaller, non-directional prints are the easiest to start out with if you’re a bias binding beginner. Binding typically isn’t very wide so a large-scale print won’t show well, and with an all-over print, you won’t have to worry about pattern matching (not that I ever really worry about it, but that’s our secret).
What’s the Difference Between Bias Binding and Bias Tape?
You may have also heard of bias tape. These are also bias strips but instead of folding from top to bottom, you fold the outer edges in to meet in the middle. It comes in single fold and double fold. Bias tape can absolutely be used to bind a quilt but is more often used for finishing seams or adding a decorative touch to a project. For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on bias binding.
How to Do Bias Binding Math
So how do you know how many yards of bias binding you’ll need for a quilt? Get your calculators ready, because here is the simple equation!
- 1. Add up the length of all four sides of your quilt.
- Add 18 to the total (this is to give you enough for mitered corners and joining up your ends).
- Divide that total by 36 (because 36 inches in a yard) and then round up to the next whole number.
For example, if you have a throw quilt that is 50x50:
50+50+50+50 = 200
200 + 18 = 218
218 ÷ 36 = 6.1
So, rounding up, you would need 7 yards of binding to complete the quilt!
TIP: You can get about 18 yards of 2.5" bias binding from 1 yard of fabric.
Now you're ready to make your bias binding! Whatever you do, don’t ask me how to join up the ends! I still have to watch Suzy’s tutorial approximately five times to get it right. Or I ask my mom to do it for me. No shame there. Hi mom—you’re the best.
If this still makes you want to run screaming, don’t fear! Just pop over to Bessie Pearl Textiles, grab some binding I’ve already made for you, and do something less screamy. Like eat some cake.