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9 steps to making continuous bias binding

 

Welcome back to another day of awesome binding techniques! As I mentioned yesterday, I like to sew my bindings on completely by sewing machine. It’s faster, the quilts are sturdier and I can finish more projects!

This week, I’m using the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q to help with my bindings and to show you some super fun, fast and easy ways to finish off those quilts.

 

Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q
Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q

 

Yesterday I went through the process of how to calculate the yardage and the number of strips required for regular crosswise (selvage to selvage) binding. Today, I’ll do the same thing but with bias binding.

What is bias binding and why would you use it?

Bias binding is made by cutting your strips on the bias as opposed to cutting the strips crosswise from the fabric.

There are two main reasons why you would use bias binding.

1

The most important situation where you would use bias binding is if you’re working with a quilt that has curved edges, you MUST use bias binding. The extra stretch in the bias binding helps to get your binding applied smoothly around the curves.

2

The other reason you may want to use bias binding is if you’re using a striped fabric and you want the strips to run diagonally on the binding. A striped bias binding on a quilt adds a lot of whimsy and fun to the finished project.

Of course, you could take the easy way out with those diagonally striped bindings by using fabrics like the one below. It’s a stripe, but the stripe was printed on the diagonal so when you make binding with crosswise strips, it looks like you’ve made it with bias binding. A cool effect.

There have been discussions about bias binding being more durable than crosswise binding. I’m not sure that’s the case. I don’t have positive proof so I’m going to leave that discussion alone. But something to consider for future experiments.

 

Diagonally printed striped fabric
Diagonally printed striped fabric

 

Here’s a quilt where I used the diagonally printed stripe for the binding. I simply cut crosswise strips and got a beautiful diagonal stripe in the binding.

 

A diagonally printed striped fabric is used for the binding
A diagonally printed striped fabric is used for the binding

 

Calculating the yardage required for bias binding

2 ways to make bias binding

  1. Cut bias strips (more on that at the end of this post).
  2. Make continuous bias binding by starting with a square of fabric.

While either method provides the same result, I think the more efficient way is to start with a square.

Steps to determine what size the square fabric should be

  1. Calculate the length of the binding required. Two times the side measurement of the quilt, PLUS two times the width and add 10″. If we use the same example as yesterday, we know that we needed 274″ of binding. (The quilt is 60″ x 72″, so 2 x 72, + 2 x 60 and add 10).)
  2. Find the area of the binding. WAIT – it’s not that hard. Just multiply 274 by the width of the binding strips. Remember I like to use 2½” wide strips. I need 685 square inches of fabric to make the binding.
  3. All that’s left is to get the square root of the area in order to know what size of square to cut. DON’T PANIC – this last step is easy. If you have a calculator with the square root function. it’s easy to plug in 685 and hit the square root function. If you don’t have a calculator, then you can download an app on your Smart Phone with the square root function. Alternatively, there are many square root charts online that you could use.
  4. In this case, the square root of 685 is 26.17″. Round the number UP to the nearest inch. In this case, I’m going to cut a 27″ square.

 

A square of fabric is cut in preparation to make bias binding
A square of fabric is cut in preparation to make bias binding

 

Step 1

The square needs to be cut in half once on the diagonal. Since the square is so large, I find it easier to fold the square in half on the diagonal, making sure the corners are well lined up. Then using a long ruler, place one of the lines on the ruler along the fold and the edge of the ruler at the tip of the points. Carefully cut along the edge of the ruler.

 

Folding the square in half to make it easier to cut the square on the diagonal
Folding the square in half to make it easier to cut the square on the diagonal

 

Lay the pieces back down so they form a square.

 

Lay the two triangles back on the cutting mat so they form a square
Lay the two triangles back on the cutting mat so they form a square

 

Step 2

Take the bottom edge of the triangle on the left and flip it right sides together on top of the triangle on the right. You can match up the stripes along the top edge for a more visually appealing join.

 

Take the triangle on the left and place it rights side together with the triangle on the right
Take the triangle on the left and place it rights side together with the triangle on the right

 

Step 3

Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the two pieces of fabric together. I pin this seam so that the stripes stay lined up.

 

Using the Quilter's ¼" piecing foot to join the triangles
Using the Quilter’s ¼” piecing foot to join the triangles

 

Step 4

Press the seam open.

 

Press the seam open
Press the seam open

 

The stripes are almost perfectly matched. It’s close enough for me. Once this join gets translated into a skinny strip in the binding, any small mismatches won’t be noticeable. Of course, if you take more time and pin more frequently, it is possible to get a perfect match.

 

Almost perfectly matched join of the striped fabric
Almost perfectly matched join of the striped fabric

 

Step 5

The shape now has two bias edges and two straight edges. Place your ruler along the bias edge preparing to make a six-inch long cut that’s PARALLEL to one of the bias edges. The width of the strip will be whatever the width of your binding is. In my case, that 2½”. If you’re not sure which edge is the bias and sometimes, it’s hard to tell especially if you’re not using striped fabric, you can give the edge a little tug – if it pulls a lot, that’s likely the bias edge.

 

Preparing to make a 6" cut parallel to the bias edge by the required width of the binding strip
Preparing to make a 6″ cut parallel to the bias edge by the required width of the binding strip

 

 

A 6" cut that's parallel to the bias edge by the width of the binding strip
A 6″ cut that’s parallel to the bias edge by the width of the binding strip

 

Step 6

This step is a wee bit tricky and looks almost impossible, but it works. You want to take the two STRAIGHT (non-bias edges) edges of the shape and join them. In this example, it’s the two edges where the stripe is running parallel to the edge. One of the straight edges is shorter than the other as it was made shorter when the 6″ cut was made. That’s because we want to create an offset tube. If we created a straight tube, we would be cutting bands, not a continuous strip.

So, starting with the edge where the cut was made, line up those two straight edges and pin. There will be fabric “leftover” at the other end of the seam.

 

Lining up the straight edges of the shape
Lining up the straight edges of the shape

 

Here’s a better picture of what the offset tube looks like. In the example below, the seam is pinned. Notice how the seams curve around the tube like a spiral. It’s a very awkward seam to pin, but once you get the hang of it, it works like a charm.

 

Seams are spiraled around the tube of fabric for the continuous bias binding
Seams are spiraled around the tube of fabric for the continuous bias binding

 

Step 7

Sew the second seam using a ¼” seam allowance and press the seam open.

 

The offset tube of fabric is sewn and ready to be cut into one continuous strip for bias binding
The offset tube of fabric is sewn and ready to be cut into one continuous strip for bias binding

 

Step 8

Using the rotary cutter and a ruler, it’s time to continue cutting on that 6″ cut that was made in Step Five. Be careful to not cut the other parts of the fabric tube. This can be a bit tricky when you start with a small square. Some people like to mark lines on the wrong side of the fabric and use scissors, but I hate marking so if I can get away without marking I go for it. Just go slow and you’ll be fine.

 

Using a ruler and rotary cutter, continue cutting on the line that was started in Step Five
Using a ruler and rotary cutter, continue cutting on the line that was started in Step Five

 

Keep rotating the tube around and around as you cut. Remember the width of the strip that you’re cutting is the width of your binding. In my case, that’s 2½”.

 

Keep cutting and rotating the tube around and around until you get to the end
Keep cutting and rotating the tube around and around until you get to the end

 

Unless we spent more time calculating the exact size of square required to have the math work out perfectly, there’s always some leftover. Just cut as much as you can that is 2½” wide and discard the remainder.

 

The last section of the tube is slightly larger than 2½"
The last section of the tube is slightly larger than 2½”

 

Step 9

Fold the binding in half with wrong sides together and press. Bundle the binding onto some form or shape or use the figure 8 method that was described in yesterday’s post.

 

Press the binding in half with wrong sides together
Press the binding in half with wrong sides together

 

Making bias binding that is NOT continuous

If you did not want to make the continuous bias binding, then you would take a piece of fabric and cut strips that are 45° to the straight of grain. How many strips? Well, I’m not sure and I’m not sure there is an easy way to figure it out which is why I prefer the continuous bias binding method.

If you took a rectangle of fabric and cut the first bias strip so you knew how long it was, then you could calculate the length of binding required, divide that number by the length of the bias strip and then determine how many strips you need to cut.

Then you will have those two triangles on either end of the rectangle that you can put in your scrap bin. This method takes more fabric than using the square.

 

Cutting bias stripes from a rectangle of fabric
Cutting bias stripes from a rectangle of fabric

 

Once the bias strips are cut, you have to join all the pieces individually, being careful to line up those edges properly so you end up with a straight strip.

I guess what I’m saying is that I like the first method. Seems to be less waste of fabric, more accurate, less calculating and faster. However, either will work.

 

Cutting individual bias strips means each strip has to be joined individually
Cutting individual bias strips means each strip has to be joined individually

 

Now it’s your turn. Get out some fabric and cut continuous bias binding!

Again, this was an easy task as I used the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q to join all the seams.

Tomorrow, we’re going to put the Epic 980Q to the test as we learn how to attach the binding to the quilt. For those of you who are not interested in attaching the entire binding by machine, make sure you come back tomorrow as the techniques used so far and those for tomorrow will be the same whether you are hand stitching or machine stitching that binding in place.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

 

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: THE formula for calculating the necessary yardage for binding your quilt

Go to part 3: 7 essential tips for sewing the binding on a quilt by machine

Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at QUILTsocial.com. When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com.

8 Comments

  1. Cathie Scanlon

    Thanks so much for the wonderful explanation on how to do this. I have tried doing this several times but your directions make it crystal clear!

  2. Alicia Round

    This makes it look so easy 🙂 I need to try it

  3. Teena Laughton

    This is so helpful, I have always struggled to make continuous bias binding, and this explains it in detail. I am encouraged to give it another try. Thank you.

  4. Delaine

    Thank you for all of the information on making bias binding. I have always wondered how to make it and how to calculate how large of a piece of fabric would be needed.

  5. Pam

    Thank you for the tutorial on continuous bias binding. This is like magic!

  6. Quilting Tangent

    Thank you for the tutorial.

  7. GloriaAnn Curwin

    Thanks for this, ftom someone who hates to “pick up a needle” but LOVES to sew.

  8. Heartland Honey

    Love your posts!
    I have a small, IMHO previously worthless, self-healing mat that I use on my ironing board with my rotary cutter when cutting bias strips. It works great!

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