Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Continuous Bias Binding: A Start-to-Finish Tutorial

A job done well stays well done forever. –Unknown

Binding a quilt is so much fun. It means that hours and hours of work are about to come together into a finished quilt. I like to do bias binding and a while ago I wrote a tutorial on how to make bias binding in two seams and then you cut—one long continuous strip of bias binding. I've updated the tutorial to include how to sew the double-fold bias binding on, turn corners, join the ends and hand stitch it to the back. There is also a downloadable, printable PDF version available.

I like to make my bias binding 2½” wide, but 2¼” also works nicely for a quilt. The chart at right is a guide for how much fabric you'll need using a square, but you can use a rectangle as well. To get a rough estimate of how much binding any given piece of fabric will produce, divide the length of the fabric by either 2.5 {for 2½” binding} or 2.25 {for 2¼” binding}, multiply that number by the width of your fabric and then divide by 36 to see how many yards. For example, if your fabric is 22” in length and 35” wide and you are making 2½” binding your equation would be:
22 ÷ 2.5 = 8.8
8.8 x 35 = 308
308 ÷ 36 = 8.5 yards

Note: Whether using a square or a rectangle, make sure that the width of your fabric {which would also be the length in the case of a square} is evenly divisible by 3.5 and then add ½” to that measurement in order to avoid waste.

• Begin with a piece of washed, pressed and starched fabric.
• Lay the fabric, right side up, on your cutting mat. Use the grid markings on your ruler to find the 45˚ angle.
• If you are right handed, cut diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right. If you are left handed, make your diagonal cut from the top right corner to the bottom left.
• Flip one triangle piece over, placing it right sides together with the other triangle, lining up the straight {non-bias cut} edges.
• If you started with a rectangle, make sure the bottom corner lines up. If you started with a square, you need to adjust the fabric for proper sewing. The easiest way to do this is use a ruler and pencil and mark the ¼" seam allowance along the straight {non-bias cut} edge on the wrong side of the fabric. With the fabrics right sides together, slide the fabric so the end of the pencil line matches up with the edge of the fabric opposite it and you have dog ears at both the top and bottom of the seam.
• Sew a ¼” seam and press it open.

• Mark the cutting lines using a ruler and pencil. Begin at the bias cut edge {the edge cut at a 45˚ angle} working left to right for right handers and right to left for left handers and mark the first line 2½” in from the bias edge and continue marking every 2½” inches until you reach the opposite side of your prepared fabric. {Note: if you are making 2¼” binding, adjust your measurements and markings accordingly.}
• When you reach the opposite side of the fabric, cut off any excess fabric that is less than 2½” from the last line you marked. If the width of your fabric was divisible by 3.5 plus ½”, you should not have any left over fabric.

• Mark the ¼” seam intersections on both the upper and lower edges of the fabric.
• Fold the fabric in half right sides together along the width, bringing together the edges where the pencil markings begin and end.
• Slide the bias cut edge to the first marked line.
• Using the pencil markings, line up the bias edge on the fabric closest to you with the pencil line on the opposite edge of the fabric and pin in place.
• Continue lining up the pencil markings at the ¼” seam intersections along the width of the fabric. The fabric should lay flat along the seam you are preparing, but will not lay flat along the fold.
• After each pencil mark has been lined up at the ¼” seam intersection, sew the seam and then press flat.

• This is the fun part. Using a nice pair of scissors cut the binding along the pencil lines. Just keep on cutting — you'll know when to stop. Trust me.
• What you end up with is a lovely piece of bias binding — in two seams!
• Press the binding flat. This is the only pressing I do.

• Trim the triangle off one end of your binding so that it is straight {I forgot this step, but you'll see it later}.
• Fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
• Place the raw edges even with the outer edge of the quilt. Place the start of the binding about the half-way down a long side of the quilt. Leave about 6” from the beginning of the binding and stitch the binding to the quilt using a ¼” seam.

• To make a crisp corner, stop stitching ¼” from the corner.
• Turn the quilt 90˚, so that you are ready to start sewing down the next side. Lift the presser foot and pull the quilt towards you, but leave the thread attached.
• Pull the binding back and away from you, forming a 45˚ angle fold coming in towards the middle of the quilt from the corner.
• Fold the binding towards yourself, covering up the 45˚ fold and lay the binding down, raw edges even with the quilt.
• Start at the corner and continue sewing the binding down.

• When you get back around to where you started the binding, stop stitching about 6” from where the two ends will meet, leaving about 12” between where you started stitching and where you stopped.
• Mark the exact point where the end of the binding meets the start. I just use a pin, but you can mark it however it is most convenient for you.
• If your binding is 2½” wide, mark the binding 2⅜” beyond the point where the binding meets. If your binding is 2¼” mark the binding 2⅛” beyond the point where the binding meets.
• Cut away the excess binding.

• Pull the loose ends of the binding away from the quilt and open them up so right sides are up and wrong sides are down.
• Flip the binding on the right over onto the binding on the left, putting right sides together and rotating the right side binding 90˚ so that it is vertical on the left side binding. The left binding should remain right side up and horizontal, but the corners should match.
• Fold the top right corner of the right side binding down and finger press a 45˚ angle across the binding.
• Mark the 45˚ angle with a pencil.
• Pin the binding back in place and sew along the line.

• Open out the binding to make sure it lays flat and there are no twists in it.
• When you're sure the ends of the binding have been joined correctly, cut away the triangle of fabric on the seam.
• Finger press the seam open.
• Place the binding, right sides together, even with the edge of the quilt and sew the gap closed.

• Fold the binding over the seam allowance and raw edges and wrap it around to the back of the quilt.
• Smooth the binding over and pin the folded edge of the binding so that it covers the seam allowance. To avoid being poked by a pin tuck the ends back into the quilt, keeping the tip of the pin between the layers of binding and quilt.
• When you come to a corner, turn the binding over, extending out past the corner.
• Fold the next side down, creating a mitered corner and pin in place.

• To hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, bury your thread in the seam allowance and come up just on the outside of the seam. Push the needle through the binding at the fold and come out ½” away. Put the needle down into the quilt, again, just outside of the seam and push it through ½”. Pull the thread through and continue moving up and down through the binding and the quilt at ½” intervals. When you run out of thread, tie off in the seam allowance and begin again.
• When you come to a corner, make sure to come up through the quilt and out into the corner of the binding that meets the opposite edge.
• Go back down through the binding nearly back from where you came out and push the needle through the quilt ½”.
• Push the needle through the binding back towards the corner, catching the opposite binding in the stitch.
• Go back down through the binding nearly back from where you came out and push the needle through the quilt towards the unstitched edge. Come out of the quilt just beyond where you came out before and continue tacking the quilt down at ¼”—½” intervals until you've gone all the way around.

Enjoy your completed quilt.


Martina said...

Thanks so much fr this great tutorial!

Irina said...

great tutorial! thanks for sharing!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

wonderful tutorial!

Unknown said...

Here's my best, new advice for binding--ask a friend to come over and help you feed it thru! What a difference in how quickly you can do it. Bonus: great gossiping!

elizabeth said...

Oh, I am going to try this : ). Wonderful tutorial!

pinksuedeshoe said...

Great tutorial! Totally pinned it :)