How to Make Continuous Bias Binding

PART 1 How Much Fabric DO You Need?

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Learning how to make continuous binding strips begins with determining how much yardage you'll need.

The calculations are easy.

First we determine the total length of binding needed and then the cut strip width. Next, we measure to find the usable width of fabric (WOF).

That's it for the calculations!

Using our Binding Yield Charts is the final step to decide how big a rectangle of fabric you'll need.

Let's get started.

Calculate the Total Length of Binding Needed

Measure the distance around your quilt and add 12". This extra is for mitering corners and joining the ends of our strip.

EXAMPLE: Our quilt is 60" x 80". So we will need:

60" + 80" + 60" + 80" + 12" = 292" of continuous bias binding

Calculate the Strip Width

Decide what the finished binding width should be. Now use this simple formula to find the cut width of your binding strip:

(4 x Finished Binding Width) plus (2 x Seam Allowance) + ¼"-⅜"

= Cut Width of Strip

The extra 1/4"-3/8" at the end is to accommodate 'turn of the cloth' around both layers of fabric in the binding, in the quilt sandwich and in the thickness of your batting.

Now a good binding is a full binding where the quilt sandwich fills it to its edge. The thicker the quilt sandwich, the wider your binding will be. It is possible you may prefer to add even more than 3/8". If so, add what works best for how you stitch.

Example: Finished 1/4" binding

Square up your quilt sandwich.

(4 x ¼") + (2 x ¼") + (¼"-⅜") = 1¾"-1⅞"

I make all my binding 1/4" finished and use 1-7/8" wide strips for those made with Quilter's Dream cotton batting, Select. 

Example: Finished 1/2" binding

Baste the edges of the quilt top a scant 1/4" from the edge. This way those stitches will end up under the binding and you don't have to remove them. They don't show.

Now square up the quilt sandwich by trimming away the batting and backing a 1/4" past the edge of the quilt top, again, fine tuning as necessary.

Option 1

If you plan to sew the binding to the quilt by lining up the cut edges of the binding with the cut edges of the quilt top, the calculations are as follows:

(4 x ½") + (2 x ¼")  + (¼"-⅜")

=2¾" - 2⅞" wide bias strips 

Option 2

If you plan to sew the binding to the quilt by lining up the cut edges of the binding with the cut edges of the batting, then the calculations are:

(4 x ½") + (2 x ½") + (¼"-⅜")

=3¼" - 3⅜" wide bias strips

Then add the extra to go around the quilt sandwich.

Now Use the Bias Binding Yield Charts

Now that you know the width to your strips and the total length of continuous binding you'll needed, you can use a simple chart. We've done the math for you!

Most methods for making continuous binding use a square of fabric. I don't buy squares of material, but I do buy yardage and fat quarters.

So we create continuous binding out of rectangles that use the WOF as purchased from the quilt store.

Remember, when using the Binding Yields charts below, that measurements are based on squared up, true rectangles that you have removed the seam allowances from.

Two opposite edges of the rectangles are sewn together to create a tube. This technique only works if you start with a true rectangle where both sets of opposite sides are parallel to each other.

If you purchase a 1/4 yard of fabric and have to cut it down to square it up, the binding it yields will be somethng less than that listed in the table.


Our 60" x 80" quilt needs 292" of a 1/4" finished binding. Strips are cut 1⅞" wide.

In the left column, "Cut Width of Binding Strips, find 1⅞". Moving to the right, we see that a 1/4 yard yields 168"—not enough. We need a half yard of a 40" wide usable WOF to make the needed continuous bias binding.

Cut Width
Binding Strips
Bias Binding Yields for Fabric Cuts of...
(Assumes a usable fabric width of 40" after the selvedges are removed)
1/4 yd by 40"3/8 yd by 40"1/2 yd by 40"5/8 yd by 40"3/4 yd by 40"7/8 yd by 40"1 yd by 40"

Since fat quarters are so readily available, we've calculated binding yields for them, too.

Cut Width
Binding Strips
Bias Binding Yields for a Fat Quarter
(Assumes an 18" x 21" usable rectangle
after removing the selvedge)

Now that we know how much fabric we need, it's onto Part 2 of our Instructions: Make the Continuous Bias Strip.

Not sure if you need to use bias?

 Click here to learn about the Great Bias Binding Debate.

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