Do you use bias binding? It’s a must if your quilt has curved edges! I don’t make often quilts with curved edges so I usually stay away from it. I prefer the straight binding, made with strips cut on the grain.
A few days ago I prepared this piece of fabric and in order to achieve the desired effect for my binding, I had to make a bias binding, with fabric strips cut on the bias. I wanted to make this job easy and without wasting fabric so I had to step out of my comfort zone and UNDERSTAND a technique that I messed it up once or twice.
Have you noticed how comfortable it is to come back again and again to those techniques you know well? It is so easy to find reasons why a new technique is boring, not suitable, not worthing your time to learn it!
This technique produces continuous bias binding from one piece of fabric, using only two seams! It’s really useful, I think any quilter should learn it!
From half yard of fabric I made 288’’ bias tape (8 yards), 2½’’ wide, enough for binding a 70’’ square quilt.
If you want to try this technique, here is what you need:
- Half yard of quilt weight fabric (18’’ x 42’’). If you want to use a solid fabric embellished with stitching, like me, checkout out this blog post for instructions.
- Fine permanent marker
To test the technique, you can use a smaller piece of fabric, as well (like 10” x 15”, as example).
Remove the selvages of the piece, straighten the long edges, making if a perfect rectangle (90 degree angles, opposite sides parallel and equal).
Place the fabric on a cutting mat, right side up, and bring the top left corner toward the bottom edge, folding the piece as shown.
The left edge of the rectangle must be perfectly aligned with the bottom edge. This makes a perfect 45 degree angle.
Cut along the fold with a rotary cutter.
Move the cut triangle to the right of the rectangle, positioning it as shown below. Pay attention here: the new shape MUST be a parallelogram (the bias edges must be parallel).
Attach the triangle to the large piece. Place the pieces right sides together, aligning the edges and top corners (the right angles). Sew with ¼’’ seam allowance. Press the seam open.
On the wrong side, draw a line at ¼’’ from both long edges of the piece (the straight edges, not the edges cut on bias). Use the permanent marker or any marker that doesn’t bleed.
Then draw lines parallel with one of the the bias edges, evenly spaced at 2½’’ (the green lines below), until you reach the other bias edge.
Do not take as reference the bias edge that is intersected by a seam (the left edge in the above picture), use the other bias edge.
1. Make sure the green lines intersect the red lines, the intersection points are important for the next steps.
2. Your binding will be 2½’’ wide; if you need a different width, when drawing the green lines, use your number instead of 2½”.
At the other end, there will be some excess (what’s smaller than 2½’’), trim it off.
In the next steps, you will stitch the two long edges together (edges with the intersection points marked), but with an offset, see the pictures below.
Turn the piece right side up and bring together the long (straight) edges.
See the offset in this picture.
You have to match those intersection points.
Use pins to keep the edges together.
First, match the intersection points.
Then add more pins in between two points to keep everything smooth and flat. If one of the edges is smaller than the other, stretch it so they fit.
By pinning this way, you will create a tube.
To better understand how this offset works, I made the diagrams below.
In the center there are the two edges that you have to join.
In the diagram below, there is no offset, the edges indicated by the green arrows are aligned. This is WRONG!
You have to offset the pieces in one of the ways shown below, either way works.
The first way works better for right-handed people and the second way is best for left-handed people (it makes the final cutting of the continuous bias strip easier-see the next pictures).
The first points (as well as the last points) you have to match are shown in this picture. As you see, one of them (the top black point) is positioned exactly on the edge, make sure you match these points correctly.
Continue pinning; when it’s done, your piece should look like this: a tube with a tail at each end. If you don’t have two tails (or no tail at all), something went wrong!!
All those marked lines create now a continuous spiral.
Sew on the line marked at ¼’’ from the edges. Use short stitches (1.5 or 2 mm), you will be cutting across this seam and you don’t want it to come apart.
Press the seam open. You have to do that on segments, as the seam is a spiral, too.
Note how the marked lines must be perfectly aligned after sewing (see the lines indicated by the red arrows below). All those lines must be aligned, they should meet at the seam line.
Starting at one tail (it doesn’t matter which one), cut along the lines you drew; use scissors.
Continue cutting along the drawn line, until you get to the end. You will end up with yards and yards of nice, continuous bias strip.
See below the difference produced by the two different ways of offsetting: see how one of the versions is better for right-handed people than the other.
If you can’t remember how to offset the edges for easier final cutting, it’s OK. I am right-handed and I ended up with a piece that it is easier to cut by left-handed persons. This trick will make cutting easier: insert your left arm into the tube.
I really hope you will give this technique a try. I know there are many pictures and instructions, but the technique is really quick and simple, once you understand it.
You can replace the rectangular piece of fabric with a square piece of fabric- the technique remains the same. It all depends on the amount of fabric you have at hand.
PS. There are formulas to calculate how much binding you will make from a particular fabric piece or how much fabric you need for a specific binding length. Check out this blog post to learn more.