I’m a sucker for bias binding on everything for one simple reason – it wears better than straight grain binding. I made the elephant and space quilts for my kids about 3 years ago and they are still holding strong! These are the quilts that are on their beds year-round and are often dragged around the house as they cuddle on the couch in the morning to watch cartoons or pulled onto the floor to wrap themselves in while they read books.
I don’t understand why they prefer to read on the hard floor vs. their comfy bed, but kids don’t really seem to care much about comfort. I can’t really judge – when I was a kid I once spent a week sleeping in a box. Kids are weird.
I make everything with the intention of it being used, and being used regularly, so longevity is very important to me. When you use straight grain binding there’s only one long thread along the edge. When this thread wears out the whole edge is going to go. Because bias binding is cut at a 45° angle there are more threads at the edge which means more have to break before it starts fraying.
If you want to learn more about the differences in bindings with some great visuals, check out this website here. Shelley does a great job explaining the three ways you can cut bindings and the pros and cons of each.
Today I want to show you my favorite way of making continuous bias binding.
First you need to know how much fabric you need to make your binding.
Start by figuring out how long your binding needs to be. Add together the length and the width of your quilt, double that (because we have two of each side, right?) then add an additional 12 inches to account for turning corners and extra for where it’s going to meet up on the quilt.
(quilt length + width) x 2 + 12 = total binding length
Then figure out how wide to cut your binding. Everyone seems to have personal preference on this. I like to use double fold binding, so I tend to stick with 2 ¼” and that gets me pretty close to a ¼” finished binding. I often refer to this chart to figure out how much fabric I’ll need because some days mathing is hard.
Once you have your ironed rectangle of fabric you need to mark the 45° angle. You can do this easily with a quilting ruler! Corner to corner of a square is 45° and quilting rulers are conveniently set up in squares. Place one point of the square on your corner and line up the edge of the fabric at the other corner.
Start drawing your line at the corner all the way off the edge of the fabric.
Cut along the line and move the triangle you cut to the other side of the fabric. Just slide it over without twisting, turning, or flipping. This will leave it in the right orientation to sew. We’ll be sewing it into a parallelogram.
With right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance sew along this edge. Press seam open to reduce bulk.
I find it helps to match the rows up later if I mark my ¼” seam at the top and bottom.
Now we’re going to draw a bunch of rows. When you measure, DO NOT measure along the top. Measure the width from the edge of the fabric at a diagonal. If you measure along the top your strips will be thinner than you want.
Notice how that last row is too small? Cut that part off – we won’t be using it.
Now we’re going to match the bottom of each row to the one next to it. To help visualize I’ve numbered each corner. You will simply be matching the same numbers together. Make sure you are pinning the right sides together so the lines meet at your ¼” mark and not at the edge of the fabric.
When you’re done you’ll end up with a lopsided tube that looks something like this:
Sew along your ¼” mark and press seams open again.
Starting at one end, simply cut along your drawn lines. The way we sewed it will end up as one long strip, almost like magic!
At this point it’s ready for you to press and use!
In the last picture of making continuous seam binding I cannot tell what to do when you get to the edge. It would appear that you cut all the way thru to the edge but that would not work if you want a continuous piece of fabric. Could you clarify that part for me, please?
If you have the fabric pinned correctly you should have a tube with a flap at the top and bottom and your drawn line forming a spiral along the outside of the tube. In the last picture I am only cutting through one layer of fabric along the line. You’ll have to keep turning the fabric tube to keep cutting along the line but when you have followed the line all the way you should end up with one long bias strip. I hope that clears things up.
I love this tutorial! Easy to follow and it came out perfect.