Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Striped Bias Binding

I was recently asked about bias binding, of the type that I like to use for baby quilts.  When cut on the bias, a striped fabric gives you that candy-cane look to add interest to a quilt.  Here is a corner of my granddaughter's quilt with the bias binding.

I normally only use bias binding when working with striped fabric, or when binding a quilt with curved or scalloped borders.  The stretchiness of bias is a good quality when you have to make a straight strip go around curves.  An example below is my quilt, Carolina Woodland Spring, with an irregular curved border.
Woven fabric basically has fibers going in two directions, the warp and the weft.
The warps are the long fibers that are parallel to the selvage.  We quilters call the warp direction the "straight of grain."  If you give a gentle tug on the straight of grain, there is not much "give" in the fabric. 
The wefts are the fibers that go under and over the warp.  If you tug the fabric from selvage to selvage, you will notice a lot more "give" or stretch.  Some piecers plan their cutting to allow for less stretch by utilizing the straight of grain.
The bias is like a 45 degree angle going right across the fabric warps and wefts.
Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.
Here is an example of a skirt with the plaid cut on the bias.
If you turn up one cut edge of the fabric to meet the selvage, you create a bias edge.  Very stretchy.  Ever had problems with the long edge of triangle pieces?
There is a method of cutting binding strips on the binding that allows it to come out in one long piece.  I have not had much luck with it, and I dislike drawing the lines on the fabric.  But here is an example of a tutorial on that method.
The way I do it is to fold up one corner of the fabric to create a bias edge.  Using my rotary cutter, I cut along the bias edge about half an inch larger that the binding I plan to make.
Then I trim the strip to the desired size along the bias edge.  After that, just continue cutting strips the exact size of your binding width.
Then you join the strips by mitering just like any other binding strips.  Put two strips right sides together, with one perpendicular to the other.
I like to try to match the stripes a bit so that when they are joined, the seam will not be obvious.  Use pins to keep the fabrics from shifting.
I use an index card and a mechanical pencil to draw a seam line from corner to corner.

Stitch along the seam line. 

Once you have sewn the seam, trim it to about a quarter inch.  I iron mine open.  Then cut off the little "mouse ear" corners so you have no more thickness than necessary.

Your seams will look good and your binding strips will be nice and even.  Can you tell where the seam is?  You can only tell below because of the mouse ear triangle.

There are lots of ways to make binding.   This is just a way I know how to do it so it comes out looking nice.  Here is a picture of Baby Charlie's bias binding from the back side.
I still have one of the unfinished quilt tops from my sister-in-law's grandmother.  It is a double wedding ring with scalloped edge.  I will need miles of bias binding to go around it!
I still have not hemmed the back of Lucas's binding to the quilt.  Better get going on that!  But here is a daily dose of cuteness for you.
I am loving this babysitting gig!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great explanation of bias fabric.