So we all make continuous bias tape, yes? It’s easier and quicker to sew together than separate bias strips, and it lets you make yards and yards of tape from a single square of fabric with no fabric waste.
Here’s the deal, though: sometimes, at the end of a project, you don’t have a large enough square or rectangle of fabric left to make enough bias tape. For example, I recently made the binding for a quilt that was 60″ x 68″. If memory serves, I needed a 26.5″ square to make the right amount plus a bit left over. But since a lot of my fabrics were from a fat quarter bundle, I didn’t have a decent stretch of fabric that big. Hence, I put off the binding process; I didn’t want to cut and sew a bunch of little strips from my FQs, but I also didn’t want to order more fabric just for binding.
Enter RST resident longarmer Amy Wade! Amy has a fabulous solution to making continuous bias tape binding: with smaller scraps of fabric. It’s ridiculously simple, but it’s genius. I went home after Amy showed me her technique and got my binding hammered out in no time. Here’s Amy’s mini-tutorial for piecing the square and making some bias tape, just in case this whole process is new to you.
1. Figure out the amount of bias tape you need and the square/rectangle that will give you that amount. There are all sorts of mathematical formulas that you can use to calculate this, if that’s your cup of tea (weirdo). Me? I use this Excel spreadsheet (for a square of fabric) or these tables (for a WOF rectangle) to figure it out. Perimeter measurement of your quilt, plus 20″. Easy peasy.
2. Assemble some decent-sized scraps and piece your square/rectangle. Using your scraps, do some improv and cobble them together until you have a shape at least as large as your required piece. The order in which you place your pieces won’t really matter on the finished bias tape, but the size of the pieces will. Larger pieces will result in a less “scrappy” binding, while smaller pieces will break up the binding strips into smaller patterns. Then trim to your desired size.
3. Continue making your bias tape as usual. If all of this “continuous bias tape” talk has been nonsense to you at this point (or if you need a refresher), I like this tutorial. This one, too. I can’t write ’em any better. Here are the broad strokes, though:
Cut your square in half diagonally and sew straight edges together to make a rhombus.
Mark your 2.5″ bias strips and match the edges right sides together (but remember to offset the lines so that you don’t end up with concentric rings!). Press your seam open.
Using scissors, follow the marked lines and cut your bias tape. Then press however you’d like: single fold, double fold, or French.
And here’s my version of scrappy quilt binding. I used a large variety of size in my scraps, so my binding has some longer pieces and some very short. The most important thing? It’s DONE, and I busted my stash in the process. Thanks, Amy!
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