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You CAN make your own binding!

Learning how to make and attach binding to a project can be intimidating!  I know I was very nervous the first time I attempted.

This post will review how to plan, cut and make binding for a quilt, using 3 inch wide strips of fabric.  We will not use true “bias” binding, since that is generally not needed for the long, straight edges of a quilt.

Binding vs Bias Binding...What is the difference and why does it matter?

What is the difference between bias binding and plain bindings?  That is a great question and I did not understand the difference for MANY years!

The term bias means to cut fabric on a 45 degree angle from the selvage of the fabric, on a line diagonal to the lengthwise and crosswise grains.  This allows for the most stretch possible from the fabric.

Non-bias binding is not cut on the bias and does not stretch to fit curves.  It is suitable for use on straight lines only.

Non-bias binding

WOF, common sewing term

Bias binding

Bias of fabric

Bias binding is helpful when binding curves, but not necessary for straight lines.

To make true bias binding, you cut the strips used to make your binding across the bias of your chosen fabric.

This is very helpful when binding items that have curved edges that need to stretch to fit the areas being bound.  I do make and use bias binding when finishing aprons, rounded hot pads, oven mitts and other items that have curved or rounded edges.

Why would l make it myself, when I can buy it at the store?

Store bought Bias Tape Binding
Store bought version of bias tape quilt binding

That is true, you could buy premade bias binding at the fabric or craft store.  However, it only comes in certain colors.  After investing HOURS of time and love into my quilting projects, I'm not one to settle for a binding that might not be "just right".

It is sold in 3 yard packages, costing around $2 to $3 each.  That's pretty pricey considering how many yards of binding you can make from 1 yard of fabric.  That is particularly the case, if you don't need true bias binding for your project.

If you are running short on time, or don't need a certain shade of "periwinkle" to complete your project, but all means buy it if you would like.  I'm particular and frugal....I make my own.

Why would you not use true bias binding?

In my humble opinion, you waste a lot of fabric in the process of creating it.  When I make non-bias binding, the fabric strips are cut straight across the WOF.

This means that I could bind an entire baby quilt measuring 32 by 40, with 1/3 yard (12 inches) of fabric cut across the width.  Since I try not to spend more than $8/yard for cotton, making binding this way would cost about $3.  I would need to buy 2 store bought packages of premade binding for this same project, which would cost around $5-6.

To make bias binding, I would need to open and cut the fabric across the bias which creates a fair amount of fabric scrap and waste.  I love fabric too much to waste it unnecessarily...and I'm frugal.

I will use the term binding, and by that I mean non-bias binding.  I do not want to bog you down with terminology, but sometimes it is important to note the differences...and this is one of those times.  The type of binding you choose to use can make a difference for your project.  This is not one of those times....we will go the easy route!

Determine how wide you want the finished binding to be on your project...

The standard width of bias and non-bias binding is 2 ½ inches.  I like to be a rebel, so I most often use a 3 inch wide strip to make my binding.  I am NOT a rebel...at all.

Honestly, I like a slightly thicker and wider binding on my quilt, since it adds a little more weight, durability and fun contrast.  It’s a personal preference and you’ll figure out what you prefer.

I would recommend you start with either 2 ½ or 3 inch wide strips.  This will also vary based on the attachment method that you choose to use

How much binding do you need for your project?

Let’s bust out our math skills and determine the perimeter of our project.  I always cut enough for the perimeter of my quilt, plus an extra 12 to 18 inches.  It is helpful to have this extra length when joining your binding strips at the end of the attachment process.  You want extra fabric length to work with at the end...trust me.

My finished quilt example measures 34 by 40 inches, which means I need *about* 166 inches of binding (34+34+40+40+18=166).

I chose a sage green polka dot cotton fabric to use as my binding for this quilt.  To determine the number of strips we need to cut, we simply divide the total number of inches of binding needed by the WOF.

Perimeter of quilt/WOF of fabric used = # of strips needed

166 inches/44 inches = 3.77

Based on this calculation, we will need 3.77 strips of fabric, or 4 cut strips.  These will get pieced together to form the binding for this quilt project.

If your calculations determine that you need 4.2 strips of fabric, you can get away with using 4.  You may end up having a shorter "tail" (we planned for 18 inches) to work with upon joining your ends.  You can make that work....we don't waste fabric!

Cut those strips out...

binding strips cut
3 inch wide strips, cut from binding fabric

Time to cut out your strips using your rotary cutter and ruler.  Measure and cut 3 inch strips along the width of your fabric, to ensure that your cut pieces are 44 inches long.

If you need to review how to accurately and safely use a rotary cutter, see my post How to use a Rotary Cutter to Square Fabric.

Sew, or join, those strips...

Time to join those cut strips together into one long continuous piece.  It is important that the strips are placed together at a 90 degree angle and sewn on a 45 degree angle, so that the seams lay nicely after being joined and pressed.

If you do not sew the seams in this way, you will end up with bulky sections of binding where the strips were sewn together.  The end product is much better when strips are joined in this manner.

Joining binding strips together
Lay right sides together, perpendicular to each other.

Take the ends of two of your strips and lay them right sides together, perpendicular to each other.

Mark your sew line along the 45 degree angle, from corner to corner, as shown.

Marking sew line to join strips together
Marking sew line to join 2 strips together.

Sew straight seam.

Seam joining strips
Seam joining 2 strips together.
creating binding
Cut away extra fabric, leaving a 1/4 seam allowance.

Mark and remove extra fabric, leaving a ¼ seam allowance and press the seam open.

Continue these steps until all 4 strips are joined together, into a continuous 166 inch long piece.

Now bust out that iron and get to pressing!

Fold your strip in half, wrong sides together.  Press until all 166 inches have a crisp fold running down the center.  I recommend using the high heat setting and lots of steam.  Watch your fingers, I scald myself just about every time!

Quilt binding
Binding strip joined and pressed with wrong sides together.


Look at that....you have measured, cut and pieced binding!

This is one way to create binding, which can be attached to a quilt or project using the method detailed in my post How to Attach Binding to a Quilt: Option #1.

There is another method to attach binding, which involves taking a few more steps and is attached in a different manner.  See How to Attach Binding to a Quilt: Option #2 for more info and instructions to attach using this method.

What projects are you working on or planning that need to be bound?  I have some oven mitts and a quilt (sshhh, it's a Christmas gift that you will see soon!) that both need binding.

Be safe & stay well,

Jen J