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
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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  • Carolina April 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I don’t make bias binding because I find having to cut on the bias a pain. Your way is much easier…Thanks!

  • Lisa April 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Interesting method. Next assignment – a video of your binding technique!

  • Jeni April 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Awesome! I think I’m going to try this!!
    When you draw the 2 diagonal lines in the beginning are you lining up with the 45 degree angle mark on your ruler?

  • Amber Carrillo April 14, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Thank you SO much! I have tried a few times and it always comes out funky…using this method on my next quilt!

  • erin April 14, 2011 at 3:08 am

    This is so super cool! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • grumperina April 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Oh, that is very clever! The few times I’ve made binding, it was very old school – cut on a 45 degree angle, sew the strips together, yadda yadda. This seems much simpler!

  • Veronique April 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm


  • Diana April 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

    whoa. this just blew my mind. I’ve only ever made bias binding the hard way. Can’t wait to try your method.

  • Amie April 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

    This makes so much more sense now! Thank you.

  • Alison April 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

    What were the chances, on the very day I was going to cut the binding for my cathedral window pillow, that craftzine would post the very link I need.
    Guess I really should do it today since the omens are so good!

  • Kate April 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

    In the beginning aren’t you sewing your fabric *right* sides together, not wrong?
    Nice tutorial!

  • Sara L. April 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Okay, this is an interesting method, but I have a question. When you draw the lines connecting the cuts in order to finish with the scissors, aren’t the lines not quite on the bias? Seems like the angle would be off. Does that have any affect on the finishing? Like, when you are ironing it in half, do these sections give you trouble?

  • Mandy April 18, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Thank you for this! I have done it before, from a tutorial in a book, but yesterday decided to try this out. I am sad to say that my first try resulted in two very unusable triangles of fabric (I cut the second diagonal line from the same corner as the first – all along knowing that something was not quite right). But luckily I had another 1/2 yard of fabric, and I got it right the second time.

  • Joan April 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been sewing for 26 years (mostly self taught) and this is the BEST way I’ve seen to make binding. Thank you so much!

  • Meghan April 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it seems you’ll end up with a bunch of loops at the end, rather than the long, continuous strip that’s pictured at the end…
    I appreciate the pictures, but I just can’t put it together in my head right. I guess I’ll keep using the “mark strips and offset them when you sew” method.

  • Meghan April 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Nevermind. Reread a final time after posting that and I missed the part describing offsetting the final cuts. Got it!
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Megan V April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    This was an awesome tutorial! I was so inspired that I had to try it out right away. I wrote about it on my blog today and wanted to let you know about it! I don’t see any button on your blog for contacting you so I thought I’d just leave the link here in the comments for you. Thanks so much for the great tut and for inspiring me! I have got a new use for all the fabric I’ve been hoarding for years. HAHA. 😀 xoxo meg

  • Seanna Lea April 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This is awesome. Until I got to the last step about doing the diagonals I wasn’t quite sure where you going, which is funny because I’m positive that I have seen that as an instruction for making a continuous yarn out of fabric.