continuous bias binding – a tutorial

I’ve been meaning to share how I make my bias binding for a while, but always forget. then I tried to explain it to monet this weekend, which resulted in me looking crazy. then amanda was tweeting about wanting to learn bias binding and here I am taking pictures on a super dreary day (so I apologize for the photo quality). it was a good excuse to get some binding done for my sampler quilt.
I used to avoid bias binding like the plague. I always ended up sewing the strips the wrong way and basically getting lost. after learning this method from my local quilting ladies I stopped making straight grain binding, which seems mind numbing once you get the hang of this. this is a picture heavy post only because I think it’s easier to see things than just to read about them. I promise this is a super easy way to make continuous binding.
you’ll need:
1/2yd of fabric
scissors
ruler
fabric marker
rotary cutter
sewing machine

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take your 1/2yd cut of fabric and square it up. cut off the selvage.

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fold in half, selvage to selvage, with right sides together. pin around the three raw sides.

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sew a 1/4″ seam around the three raw sides. this is the only time you have to use your sewing machine! sweet no? press fabric again so it’s nice and neat.

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back at your cutting mat, mark a diagonal line from corner to corner (I just eye this up). in the photo above the folded (non-sewn part) is at the bottom.

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clip both corners at an angle, cutting into the seam allowance a bit.

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cut with your scissors along the line you drew. make sure to only cut the top layer of fabric!
now flip the rectangle and do it all over again on the other side. so draw a diagonal line again (from uncut corner to uncut corner), clip the two corners and cut the one layer of fabric.

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when you grab the fabric from the cut edges, you end up with a tube like this.

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press your seams open

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and clean up your edges.

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we’re finally ready to make our strips! about time right?! starting from the cleaned up edge measure out the width you would like. here I am cutting 2.5″ binding. cut from left to right with your rotary cutter, but leave the top 4-5″ untouched. (see how my ruler is not all the way to the top? it’ll make sense in a bit)

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as you reach the other edge you’ll notice you’ll have a piece the wrong width, that’s fine! if you cut your strips thinner you probably don’t get this.

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after cutting you’ll end up with strips that aren’t totally separated.

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pick up the tube again and rotate the uncut section to the center. with your ruler and marker draw lines that connect the cuts from the top to the ones on the bottom left.

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cut these lines with your scissors.

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and now you have yards of binding! in my case 7.5 yds!

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press in half, roll up, and finish your quilt!
eta: I’ve been asked if you have to use a 1/2yd cut or how to figure out how much a different cut will yield. I was going to sit here and figure out the math and geometry of those questions but someone has already done it! there’s a nice chart and even the perfect formula. I just tried it and it gave me what I ended up with. it doesn’t include the numbers for a 2.5″ strip though, so I plugged it into the formula and these are the yields:
1/4 yd = 3.85 yds of binding
3/8 yd = 5.8 yds
1/2 yd = 7.6 yds
5/8 yd = 9.7 yds
3/4 yd = 11.6 yds
1 yd = 15.5 yds

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