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Tackling Traditional Bias Binding

Traditional bias binding, as you would expect, is the old-fashioned way to bind a quilt. The binding is made from a wide strip of bias-cut fabric that’s folded down the center lengthwise. Each lengthwise half of the strip is then folded again before being attached to the quilt, giving the top and back of the quilt each two layers of binding.

Traditional bias binding is the most durable binding method because, when you’re finished stitching, you actually have two layers of fabric covering the raw edges of the quilt. Because of its durability, try using traditional bias binding for bed-size quilts or anything that will undergo a lot of laundering.

To make a traditional bias binding:

  1. Cut strips of fabric eight times wider than the desired width of the finished binding.

    For example, if you prefer a binding that is 1/2-inch wide when finished, cut 4-inch-wide strips of bias-cut fabric (1/2 x 8 = 4).

  2. Fold in 1/2 inch of the beginning of the strip so that the right side of the folded fabric faces you. Then, fold the strip in half (wrong sides facing) along its entire length, as shown in the following figure.

    Fold the bias-cut fabric down the center lengthwise.
    Fold the bias-cut fabric down the center lengthwise.
  3. Press the strip carefully along the lengthwise fold, taking care not to stretch the bias.

  4. Place the pressed strip on the front of the quilt so that the double raw edge is even with the raw edges of the quilt top and the fold in the strip is toward the center of the quilt. Pin the strip in place.

  5. Along one long side of the quilt, start about 4 inches from the folded end of the bias strip. Begin machine stitching the binding in place 1/4 inch from the double raw edge of the binding.

    When you begin to approach a corner, slow down a bit so that you have better control, and stitch to within 1/4 inch of the corner of the quilt top. (See the dot in the following figure? That’s where you stop stitching.) Take a back stitch or two to secure your thread before cutting it and turning the quilt to the next side.

    Stop sewing about 1/4 inch from the corner.
    Stop sewing about 1/4 inch from the corner.
  6. Miter the corner by folding the bias strip upwards at the corner so that it extends the right-hand edge of the quilt (see a in the following figure), and then fold it down so that the newly made fold is even with the top edge of the quilt, the one you just stitched along (shown in b in the following figure). Holding the folded binding in place, line up the quilt in your sewing machine so that you can start stitching the strip to the next side of the quilt, around the corner.

    Fold the binding up (a) and back down (b) to create a clean corner.
    Fold the binding up (a) and back down (b) to create a clean corner.
  7. Continue stitching the binding to the edges as described in Step 5 and mitering the corners as described in Step 6.

  8. To end your binding back where you started (what goes around comes around), trim the ending tail of the binding so that it overlaps the beginning by about 2 inches. (You left 4 inches of it unstitched, remember? If not, see Step 5.) Insert the ending tail of the binding into the folded beginning, and continue stitching through all the layers.

  9. Trim away any excess backing fabric and batting (anything that extends beyond the quilt top) with scissors.

  10. Fold the binding to the back side of the quilt and, using the blind-stitch, hand stitch it in place directly over the line of machine stitching on all four sides (see the following figure). To create the blind-stitch:

    1. Hide your knot by inserting your needle in the backing fabric a short distance from where you want to start. Bring your needle up through the edge of the binding, and pop the knot through the backing fabric by tugging on the thread. (A firm tug is all you need; pull too hard and you’ll break the thread and have to start over.)

    2. With your thread coming through the binding, insert the needle into the quilt backing directly opposite.

    3. Bring the needle up through the binding again about 1/8 inch from the first stitch in the binding. In this manner, you’ve traveled 1/8 inch and hidden the traveling portion of the thread in the quilt backing.

      Blind-stitch the binding in place by hand on the back side of the quilt.
      Blind-stitch the binding in place by hand on the back side of the quilt.
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Quilting Basics: Choosing Cotton to Match Your Style
Create a Continuous Binding Strip for Your Quilt
Make a Self-Binding for Your Quilt
Easy Bias Binding Strips for Your Quilt
Getting the Right Amount of Fabric for Your Desired Quilting Bias
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