Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Finishes - Traditional vs. Bias Binding. . .

Continuing the discussion on bindings, let's discuss the two most commonly used bindings:  traditionally striped bindings and bias bindings.
The most common binding I find quilters use is a double-folded binding with mitered corners.  The binding is created by cutting strips that are 2 1/2" or 2 1/4" by WOF and joined together to get the measurement required for the perimeter of the quilt.  The binding strip is then folded in half before sewing to the quilt's edge.  There are a few excepted RULES (I don't really like that word in quilting but here it is) for securing the binding.  First, the folded binding is machine sewn to the quilt front.  Second, the binding should be full when sewn to the back.  What does "full" mean?  That the binding should be FULL of batting.  There should be no slack to allow the layers of binding to touch one another.  Third, that the binding is sewn to the back by hand with invisible stitches.
Most often quilters turn to bias binding when there are curved edges involved.  While the sewing of the bias binding is the same as traditionally striped bindings, how the strips are cut is different.  Bias refers to cutting the strips on the bias of the fabric.  This means the strips are cut at a 45 degree angle of the fabric rather than WOF.  Cutting strips on the bias gives the fabric the most amount of give possible.  Bias strips allow the binding fabric to mold around curves.  However, did you know there are a couple of other advantages to a bias binding over a striped binding?  One has to do with longevity.  For a quilt that is lovingly used, the continuous pulling up of the quilt by its binding is hard on it.  Because a traditional binding is cut by WOF, the straight-grain cut has the same threads being pulled on again and again, slowly weakening those threads.  With a bias binding, the pulling is distributed among many threads because of the angle at which the fabric was cut.  This allows for a stronger, longer lasting binding.  Second, if there is a little wave in a quilt border, the play of the bias binding can assist in manipulating it flat.  And, wouldn't we all prefer flat, square quilts?  You may have found that various patterns call for a yard of fabric for binding and you wonder why.  Those patterns are suggesting you make a bias binding for the reasons I stated above and bias binding does require more fabric than traditionally striped bindings.  I have to admit that I rarely make bias bindings.  However, maybe it's time I relook at my norm for binding my quilts.

Happy Friday,

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