This is part one in our series! This is the very first place to start to make your own binding.
The first step is going to be to find out how much fabric you’ll need for your binding. Makes sense, right? It’s not impossible to extend your binding once you’ve started (we’ll show you how), but it’s much easier to get it all done at once.
There are many, many websites and apps that only want to help you calculate your binding yardage, so I won’t go over that too much here. My favorite is the QuiltCalc app by Robert Kaufman and Quilter’s Paradise; they also have an online version here.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about what you want for your binding. In the picture above, you can see I opted for an orchid color that coordinated with some of my blocks. Do you want to coordinate? Contrast? Make it disappear, by using the border color? The binding is your final place to make this project – whether it be a quilt, potholder, book cover, bag, etc. – sparkle. One of my favorite things is to use leftover scraps from my piecing in my binding strips.
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Once you have your fabric picked out, it’s time to cut your strips. I like to cut strips for my quilt binding 2 inches wide – my mom likes them 2.5 inches wide. (That extra half inch makes it a little bit easier to fold your binding around the edge that’s being bound.) As a rule of thumb, I would recommend cutting a strip between 2 and 3 inches wide. It’s possible to go narrower, but you’re also going to spend more time fussing with it at the end.
Hold on – what’s bias tape, and how is it different from binding? Bias tape is just binding strips that have been cut on a 45 degree angle. That’s called the bias, and it makes your fabric a little stretchier. The only time I make bias tape specifically is if I need to go around a curve, like a scalloped edge or on a neckline.
Strips ready? Awesome.
You’ve probably noticed that they’re not long enough to go around your project in one piece. They’re probably only 44 inches long, or less if you used pieces from your project. So what are we going to do? We’re going to piece them on the diagonal, which makes a stronger seam and blends it a little bit better.
To create a diagonal seam, lay one of your strips across the other at a 90 degree angle. The area where the two strips overlap creates a small square. Using your favorite marking utensil (I’m all about that air erase marker), draw a straight line diagonally across that small square.
Which corner should you start with? Well, it depends on how you stacked your strips. If you’re feeling unsure, stick a pin where you think the seam should go, and try folding your fabric. Did you get a long strip? Or did you get a mitered corner? If you don’t get a long strip, take your pin out and try it again going the other direction.
Keep sewing the ends together in this way until you have a single strip long enough to go around your project, plus 5 inches of overlap (to be safe. We’re going to need some overlap when we sew our continuous binding).
Almost there! Now that we have a long, long piece of fabric, it’s time to press it into the shape we want.
Some people fold this strip in half, and sew with the raw edges lined up with the raw edges of their quilt. This is a great method, but I’ve found that you have to start with a wider strip. I prefer to press my binding into fourths.
See? It’s been pressed in half once, and then both edges have been folded in towards that center crease.
I press it in half one more time. I like that center crease to be good and strong.
And now give your self a big pat on the back! You just made your binding (or bias tape), and the next piece in the series will talk about mitered corners and continuous binding.