Welcome Back! Today we continue our primer on quilt binding with a lesson on how to make quilt binding.
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Last week’s post gave us a solid understanding of what quilt binding is and what it does. This week we look at how to do some binding calculations and how to make French (or Double) Fold binding.
If you are truly math phobic, you can always check out my Binding Calculator page, but I encourage you to read through the math instructions below so you have some understanding of what’s involved in the calculations.
Calculating how much binding you need to make is pretty simple math. First, measure your quilt and plug the measurements into this equation:
2 x (length of quilt) + 2 x (width of quilt) + 15 inches*
*If you work in centimeters, then add 38 cm instead of the 15 inches.
Pretend your quilt is 40 in x 50 in. When we substitute those numbers into our equation, we get:
Binding Length = 2 x (40) + 2 x (50) + 15 in
Binding Length = 195 in
So, now we know that we need 195 inches of binding. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Our next calculation isn’t too difficult either, but it is a bit more involved because it depends on a few variables.
As discussed in our last post, the typical binding strip is cut 2.5 in, but there are lots of reasons to tweak that depending on your quilt and your preferences. If you are just starting out, it’s best to start off using binding that is 2.5″ the first few times you bind a quilt. Each time, examine the results and evaluate whether you should tweak it an eighth or a quarter inch smaller or larger your next go around.
Most quilting fabrics are sold is bolts that are 42-44″ wide, but some are as much as 60″ wide. It’s important to note that not all of that width is USEABLE width, so after you measure it be sure to subtract any unusable portions such as the selvages. If you aren’t sure, 40″ is usually a good safe number to use in the calculation, as long as you are using new fabric just cut off the bolt.
Step 1: divide the amount of binding you need to make by the useable width of fabric. If you have any remained at all, you will round up. The result is how many strips you need to cut.
Binding amount/WOF, then round up = number of strips to cut
Step 2: Multiply the number of strips you calculated in step 1 by the width you have decided to cut your strips to determine the amount of fabric you need.
# of strips (from step 1) x cutting width of binding
= amount of fabric needed
Using the 40 x 50 quilt we used earlier, we know that we need 195 inches of binding, so let’s plug that in and see what we get.
Step 1: 195 divided by 40 (our WOF) equals 4 with a remainder of 35. We round that up, which means we need to cut 5 strips.
Step 2: 5 strips multiplied by a 2.5″ strip width = 12.5″ of fabric.
That’s a tad over 1/3 yard, but I like to add 5″ to this. My reasoning is that just in case I make a cutting mistake, I have enough to make two extra cuts. There is a time to cut corners and save money but this isn’t one of them. Make sure you will have enough. Any leftovers can go in your scrap bin.
Are you beginning to see how much thought is needed to make quilt binding? It would be nice if there was just a “Cookie Cutter” technique, but you are making a piece of art and that can’t be rushed! There is one last thing to think about: how to cut your strips.
Those three ways are based on fabric grain. For an in-depth discussion of fabric grain, read this post on Understanding Fabric Grain. Below are the three ways you can cut::
I’ve made you a graphic you can Download now to help you decide which type of strip to cut.
Now that you know how many strips you need, how wide you are going to cut them, and you know what type of strips you are going to cut, carefully cut them from your fabric. Now we are ready to go to the machine and sew them together.
So, you’ve done all your calculations, you’ve cut your strips, and now you are ready to sew those strips together and make French Fold Binding. Here is how you do it:
I like to coil my binding up into a roll and secure it with a pin until I’m ready to use it. Recently, I found this adorable Binding Baby who keeps my binding in a neat roll until I’m ready to put it on the quilt.
Isn’t she cute? The are made by Doohickey Designs and you can get one by clicking on the following binding baby below: (affiliate link)
Next week we discuss different methods to attach the binding to your quilt. I will show you the “traditional” method, and I’ll show you two different ways to attach entirely with your machine.
Until then, Happy Quilting!