Resources for Beginning Quilters on How to Cut Bias Binding
This is a round up post to share some of my favorite quilt binding tutorials with my students, and with you! I’m not creating my own tutorials because there are so many great tutorials out there, and even books on the subject!
First, we’ve got to cut the binding. I am a firm believe in cutting binding on the bias, so that it’s stronger. Here’s what happens when you cut it on the straight of grain:
It’s important to buy quality fabric and to cut it on the bias. Why is it important to cut your binding on the bias? Picture that binding fabric, folded in half, on the edge of your quilt. If you’ve cut the binding on the straight of grain, the edge of that binding, on the edge of your quilt, has a single thread at the edge of the quilt. Of course it’s going to wear out, of course it’s going to split.
If however, you’ve cut your binding on the bias, on the diagonal, there are many, many threads going over that folded edge. And that’s stronger. that’s why. I’m not taking a viewpoint based on tradition or belief. It’s that many threads are stronger and longer lasting.
It’s not hard to cut it on the bias; let’s look at some tutorials to help us.
There are lots of tricks to help you cut more binding strips at a time, or longer binding strips at a time. One of those tricks requires you to use scissors, which I don’t want to do. (That’s the method where you cut two triangles, sew them together to make a trapezoid, sew it into a tube, mark it with chalk and then cut with scissors.)
The simplest, simplest way to cut bias binding is to start with a 23″ wide piece of fabric and cut strips at 45 degree angle. Your cutting mat and/or ruler can help you find that angle. Why 23″ wide? I think they chose that size because a standard quilt ruler can manage it, but I’m not positive.
To make long strips of bias binding in bulk, this blog post shows you how. It’s a method of all folding – no sewing, and it uses a rotary cutter: https://blog.megannielsen.com/2020/09/how-to-make-bulk-bias-binding
I haven’t tried this one yet, but plan to. It looks like you get nice long strips from this method.
Here’s a simpler method, that’s one step up from cutting strips from a flat square of fabric, but doesn’t involve as much folding as the example above, this link will take you to a pdf from Andrie Designs: https://www.andriedesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Andrie-Designs-Cut-and-Join-Bias-Strips-Tutorial.pdf
Helpfully, this pdf also shows you how to join the ends of your bias strips.
How much binding do you need?
Remember there’s a helpful online calculator that will figure that out for you at Quilter’s Paradise. https://www.quiltersparadiseesc.com/Calculators/Binding%20Calculator.php
The calculator doesn’t ask if you want your binding straight of grain or bias cut, it just does the math for you for both, and then you choose the bias cut length.
Methods of Attaching Binding to a Quilt
What are the various ways to attach binding to a quilt?
The method we’ll use in my class is the machine-sew on the front, flip it over to the back, press, and hand sew on the back. It’s not the fastest, but it is the safest, as in, you will get a nice looking result.
Here’s a good tutorial that shows you how to do that, and it uses the “flip and fold” method at the corners to get nice mitered corners. https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/post/how-to-make-mitered-binding-corners
See below for a link to a video on binding from the same folks.
(Is that how I do my corners? No, I do another method, but I’ve lost the link to the video that shows you how! Flip and fold is probably the easiest, most reliable method.)
But that’s not the only method for attaching a binding. Blogger Susan shows how to do machine stitched bindings on the front AND the back. I LOVE her tutorials, as they are extremely clear and well photographed.
And she’s also funny! Machine stitched binding: https://www.quiltfabrication.com/2018/06/machine-stitched-binding.html
Here’s a tutorial on the same method, machine sewing on front and back, from Cluck Cluck Sew, because sometimes a different tutorial is exactly the one that helps it click in your mind. https://cluckclucksew.com/2013/01/machine-binding-tutorial.html
Here’s another one from Susan on reducing bulky corners, and this is helpful regardless of your method of binding: https://www.quiltfabrication.com/2016/02/reduce-bulky-corners.html
Once you’re almost done sewing your binding on to the front (or first side), you’ll need to connect the two ends of your binding strips together, Susan’s got a tutorial on that too! https://www.quiltfabrication.com/2019/09/joining-binding-easy-way.html
Here’s a different blog with even more step-by-step photos on just that step, of joining the ends. https://mysterybayquiltdesign.com/2014/02/05/joining-the-ends-of-double-fold-bindings
How to Face a Wall Hanging (no binding-binding)
What about when you don’t want a binding to show around the edges? Or you just don’t want to do binding? Facing is a method that’s different. Maybe it’s easier, maybe it’s not, it depends on what you like or don’t like to do. Here’s my favorite tutorial on facing, from Silly Boo Dilly. https://thesillyboodilly.blogspot.com/2012/09/tutorial-super-duper-easy-way-to-face.html?m=1
For wall hangings, it is acceptable to cut your binding or facing strips on the straight of grain, because a wall hanging or art piece won’t get the same level of use and washing that an every day quilt will.
I haven’t shared any video links here yet, because I prefer step-by-step photo tutorials. But there are lots of videos out there. I have watched some videos on doing the mitered corners on quilt bindings, I admit that sometimes video is best!
Have I given you perhaps too many choices here? Yes, possibly, sorry about that. If you’d like a shorter, simpler list, here it is:
The Short List of Tutorials on How to Cut, Sew and Attach Quilt Bindings
How to cut bindings on the bias and attach them together, efficiently but simply, with a rotary cutter, see this pdf from Andrie Designs: https://www.andriedesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Andrie-Designs-Cut-and-Join-Bias-Strips-Tutorial.pdf
Next, having already squared up your quilt, you’re ready to attach the binding. For the machine sew on the front, hand sew on the back method, here’s your tutorial for the corners: https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/post/how-to-make-mitered-binding-corners
When you’re ready to join the ends of your binding (where they meet, when you’ve gone almost all the way around with your binding), see Susan at Quilt Fabrication: https://www.quiltfabrication.com/2019/09/joining-binding-easy-way.html
I haven’t found a photo tutorial yet that shows how to do the machine sew on the front, hand sew on the back method all the way through, so here’s a link to a video from National Quilter’s Circle on that method: https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/video/quilt-binding-basics-003553
And here’s an excellent video that shows the “flip and fold” method.
There are many ways to bind a quilt! Some people pin, some people don’t. Some people use glue, some don’t. Some pin all the way around the quilt before they sew, some folks pin one side at a time. It’s all fine! The goal is to encase those raw edges of the quilt, using top quality fabric, cut on the bias. That gives us a strong, long lasting finish to our quilts.