How to make Quilt Binding without a bias tape maker
Have you ever used those pre-made bias tape’s on your quilts? They’re not so easy to work with, are they? Plus, they’re usually made of 100% polyester so they warp any time they even get near an iron.
Personally, I much prefer to make my own Double Fold Binding for all of my quilts. That way, I control the size I want to make them and the fabric. Heck, I can even make it a Crazy binding like this one!
Make Binding Tape
The first step in making your own Quilt Binding or Bias Tape is to know how many strips to cut. Personally, I like a little wider binding (Finished 1/2″ = 3/4″) so I cut all my strips at 2 ½” wide.
I should also note here that I do not cut my strips on the bias. Yes, again, there are those that would accuse me of cheating or give many reasons (stretching, etc) why you MUST cut ON the bias. However, I’ve always cut my strips straight from the edge of the fabric and not had a problem with stretching.
Here comes the math. To figure out how much fabric you’ll need, here is your formula:
Find the total length by adding the 4 sides of your quilt. The Americana is 36 x 48. Therefore, my equation is: 36 + 36 + 48 + 48 = 168
Now, divide that number by the Width of your Fabric. I use 40” to allow for selvage removal.
168 / 40 = 4.2
Always round this number up to the nearest whole number. This will give you the number of strips to cut to make your binding. If you feel a little nervous about the length you can always add an extra strip. If you have left overs, use it to make a Mug Rug or potholder!
To get the total yardage required – multiply the number of strips by the width of each strip. Since I cut my strips a 2 1/2 inches wide the formula would be:
5 x 2.5 = 12.5 inches minimum
You know as well as I do that fabric never seems to be cut perfectly straight at the quilt shop. Therefore, I always round that number up to the nearest 1/4 yard. For the Americana project I purchased half a yard (18 inches) of fabric for the Binding. Easy as mud, right?
Now it’s time to sew those strips together. The key here is to keep the Right sides together. When using solids that can be difficult so one trick is to place a chalk mark on both ends of each strip on the Right side only. This way, as you’re assembling them, you can easily spot which side is Right and which side is Wrong. Don’t ask how many quilts it took me to figure out that little nugget.
Starting with your first 2 strips, place them perpendicular, Right sides together, as shown. Using chalk or a fabric pencil, draw a line along the diagonal and pin in place.
Carefully stitch ON the drawn line. Then trim approximately ¼” on the OUTSIDE of your seam.
There is some controversy on which direction to press this seam. Personally, I like to press the seams open so there is less bulk. However, some prefer to press this seam to one side or the other to prevent any thread from showing. I suggest testing both ways to find what works best for you. Also, don’t worry if a little bit of chalk shows through as it can be removed with a little water or it will come out when washed.
Continue added all of the strips, end to end, until you have one super long fabric strip.
Several months ago (maybe years?) I stumbled across another ‘cheat’ method for pressing double folded Binding tape. As long you take your time with it, it works like a champ!
To get your binding started, fold the end of the binding in half lengthwise, Wrong sides together, and press. You will only need to do this for about 8 inches or so on one end of your binding strip.
Open the strip and fold the sides in so they meet up at the center fold. Press. Finally, fold the pressed edges together to make your double fold binding tape. Give one final press so everything stays nice and flat together.
On your pressing board or ironing board, insert long quilting pins so that you can slide the fabric strips through easily.
Place the folded end of your strip under each pin and make sure that it stays folded correctly. This part can be a little tricky at first so take your time with it.
Once your strip is under the pins without enough room to move freely, give the center another quilt press with the iron. CAUTION: be sure to keep an eye on those pins! We don’t want melted plastic on our pressing board.
On the outside of your pins where the rest of your strip lays, carefully fold the sides toward the center (to create the double fold) and slide through the pins. Double check your center is folded in evenly and press with your iron. Keep folding, sliding and pressing section by sections until you have the entire binding complete.
Here is a little video of me pressing my Binding to give you a visual.
That’s it! No more pressing the entire strip three times to get that Double Fold Bias Tape quilt binding. Now it’s all done in one go. Next up, How to Bind a Quilt by Machine!
Do you have another cool binding trick up your sleeve? Share it with us! I’m always on the lookout for great quilting ‘cheats’.
As always, Hoppy Quilting!