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
- Fabric – a larger piece is easier to work with but at least a fat quarter
- Rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Quilting ruler
- Sewing machine
- A completed quilt
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!
- 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.
22 thoughts on “How to Make Bias Binding (with Video Tutorial!)”
Until now, I’ve been way too nervous to try bias binding, but it looks easier than straight edge binding! I can’t wait to try out these tips. Thank you! 😊
One question: could handles for tote bags be made this way? Would it make them stronger?
Good question! While the fibers are stronger on the bias the fabric has a lot more give. I’d be afraid if it was used for tote handles it would stretch and become distorted.
Thanks Karen, I appreciate your response. 🙂
I still find it tricky to get the bias binding to meet together smoothly at end to end. Looking at Suzy’s tutorial, which is similar how I would connect the ends on non-bias bindings, but with the edges not being even, how can this be done with all the fabric overlap? Usually I don’t have much room to leave for “tails” when making small projects so it gets tight to maneuver to get a smooth bias binding and not stretch the fabric too much working with lining all the edges up. So I guess my question is, do I cut each end of the bias strip so that all edges are even and not at an angle? And then attach together like Suzy method? Thank you!
Good question! You certainly could cut the edges straight and then sew them together. Having the seams on an angle helps your seams be less bulky and I personally prefer the look of it. I hope that is helpful!
Because bias cutting makes the fabric stretchier the handles won’t be stronger. You would need to have a non-stretchy something to prevent it stretching and warping.
If making rounded handles you can use the bias fabric to cover handles from a previously used bag or to cover a stiffer cording material.
In the case of a flat handle you’ll need to sew something to the bias fabric. You can sew fabric webbing to the bottom or inside a bias fabric tube).
For thinner and shorter handles, that won’t need to deal with a lot of weight, I actually use several layers of selvedge cut from the edge of the fabric to put inside my bias cut handle tubes before sewing them flat.
Thanks for your tips Mea! They are all really helpful.
Oh snap! I recognize that quilt! 😎 This is an awesome tutorial, Karen! I especially love the math section at the end — that part always makes me head spin, so this is a great reference.
Thanks Erin! I’m so glad you found it helpful!
Great tutorial! I am curious about making this binding with a plaid or checked pattern, as in gingham. One of the photos shows a lovely checked pattern of binding. Are there special considerations when lining up your edges to seam?
Good question! And I think it depends on how particular you are about your patterns matching exactly. Because my plaids are usually on a small scale, I don’t find it very noticeable if the pattern doesn’t match up exactly at the seam.
But if you want them match you might want to trim your edges so the pattern will match once it is sewn. It would take a bit of fussy cutting but is certainly doable!
Thank you! I will try playing with that.
When I started quilting bias was the “only” way to bind. This was also done with scissors and pencil lines. This tutorial simplified everything so much! Love being able to make rounded corners! If I’m not using it right away I roll it on a T. P. roll for safe keeping. Also keeps the pressed folds sharper. Thanks so much for the great tutorial and fabulous photos and video!
Thanks so much for this great tutorial. I have never considered using bias as it was in the too hard basket. I will make sure I have that little bit of extra fabric in the future and try making them on the bias. I really like the rounded corners.
I’ve purchased binding from Karen before! She’s wonderful and I’m a big fan of her shop- highly recommend it! It’s great seeing her here.
Great tutorial! Thank you!
Thank you for the fabulous video and post! I tried cutting bias binding once, the fabric had rows of dots and I ended up with 1/2 the binding going in wrong direction. Can I use your method to cut a striped fabric? I can’t wait to try bias binding again 🙂
This bias binding tutorial is the absolute best!! After going over the tutorial, I made my own bias binding with ease!!! Thank you Bessie & Suzy for having Bessie on your blog!
I’m so happy you found this helpful! Isn’t Bessie amazing?
SuzyQuilts is always the first place to go for tutorials! 😀. Question..when making the bias binding, it looks like you started with one layer of fabric in a rectangle (instead of making strips with folded selvage to selvage). So are you working with fat quarter size fabric..instead of 1/2 yard or yardage?
In this example Karen is using a scrap of rectangle fabric. Using this same technique you could use a fat quarter or 1/2 yd. In the middle of the post she has some math that should help figure out how much fabric you need for your binding. In the example she says that a basic throw quilt needs about 7 yd. of binding so 3/8 yd. would cover it 🙂