Bias binding for quilts doesn’t have to be scary

I’ll admit that making bias binding for quilts is not my favourite thing to do. If you’ve been doing straight cut binding – I’m with you, most of my quilts are done that way. But bias binding is stronger and stands up to more use – or so I’m told! Can you tell I’m not really a fan? Thing is that bias binding is really the standard – and I’m all fro breaking the rules, right? In case you’re still wondering about using bias binding, let’s jump right in so that you can decide for yourself.

What is bias binding?

To understand why it’s called bias, we need to go back to the different cuts we can get from our fabric. (No we’re not talking charms, layers or jelly…I’m suddenly really hungry)

  • Lengthwise runs parallel to the selvage and has little to no stretch.
  • Crosswise runs perpendicular to the selvage. Because it is made from yarns woven over and under the lengthwise yarns it has more stretch than lengthwise grain.
  • Bias is then cut diagonally.

Both lengthwise and crosswise grains are referred to as “straight” grains because they are cut along the grain of the fabric.

I use bias binding when I’m making beaded piping.

Is it a big deal to have bias binding?

Bias means that you have a nice stretchy piece to work with. The stretch will give you neat corners, though my method gives me beautiful corners too, and I straight cut my binding. Or crosswise if I’m sticking to the terminology I’m using in this post.

The other thing that I find bias binding great for is beaded piping. No, I’ll not chat about that here, but know this: you have to try it.

Amongst other great piecing, appliqué and quilting techniques – you’ll learn how to make beaded piping with bias binding in the “A million more dreams” class.

One of the appliqué elements on A million more dreams.

How to make bias binding for quilts

Cutting binding for A million more dreams. I’m using a nifty little ruler from Creative Grids – Bias Binding ruler.

To make the bias binding you’ll need a 25” square (for a square quilt of 40” square).  This is assuming a 42” wide quilt cotton fabric.

Trim the selvages from the fabric that you want to use for your binding.  The length of the binding you’ll need for a 40” square quilt is 170”.

bias binding
Fold the top left corner to align with the bottom edge of the fabric.  Also fold the bottom right corner to align with the top edge of the fabric.
bias binding
Rotate the fabric so that you have a folded edge facing you.  Using your ruler, align a straight reference line with the folded edge of the fabric and trim so that you have a straight edge to start from.  With a rotary cutter, cut 2¼” strips (or 2½” if you prefer a wider binding)
Join strips by laying right sides together at a 90° angle.  Edges should overlap approximately ¼”. Stitch together from corner to corner at 45°.
bias binding
Trim away the excess fabric with a ¼” allowance.
bias binding
Press the seams joining the binding strips open to reduce bulk. Fold the length over in half (wrong sides together) along the length and press to get a crisp fold. Trim the little ears created by the joins so that you have a clean raw edge. You now have bias binding for a quilt.
bias binding
Align the raw edge of the binding to the edge of the quilt, on the back.  Leave 10” inches of the binding unstitched, and then start stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. (I suggest that you start halfway down one of the edges to disguise your join later).  Before you start stitching, check that none of the binding joins are on a corner.  Make adjustments if this is the case, else your corner will be too bulky for a neat mitre.
Stop ¼” from the edge when you get to a corner, backtrack a few stitches.  Keep your needle down, and turn the quilt so that you can stitch from the point that you stopped, to the corner of the quilt.  (This corner stitching will ensure that you have a perfect mitred edge when you fold the binding to the front of the quilt.)
Trim the thread and turn the binding over and away from the quilt to get a 45° fold. 
Fold the binding over itself and line up the raw edge with the edge of the quilt.
Start stitching on the fold and continue to attach the binding to the quilt until you get close to the starting point.
Open the ending tail of the binding and pin one raw edge of it to the edge of the quilt.
Fold open the starting tail of the binding and lay it over the ending tail.  Mark a 45° line and another a ½” from the first marked line. 
Lay the ending tail over the starting tail and mark the line where you trimmed the first tail.
Trim the starting tail on that marked line.

Bias binding for quilts is a requirement for any quilt you want to show in a festival or competition.

Place the tail ends together (right sides together) and stitch a ¼” seam.  Your binding is now joined.  Press the seam open so that you can avoid bulk.
Stitch the open section of the binding to the back of the quilt.
Fold the binding over the edges on the front of the quilt and top stitch with your sewing machine.  

If you prefer to hand stitch your binding, start on the front of the quilt (all the graphics that state Quilt Back, should then be Quilt Front)

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