As much as we quilters enjoy coming together through our love of making beautiful things with our quilting machines, we also have our share of debates on techniques.
One such debate is that of binding and which one is best to use for your quilting project.
Of the three different ways you can make binding to complete your project once it's been removed from the quilting frame and is ready for finishing, which tape is best: bias, lengthwise, or cross grain?
The answer to that question involves understanding how the three types are made as well as the pros and cons of each technique!
Bias Cut Binding Tape
Bias cut binding is the more popular of the three types of binding used to finish quilting projects as it has some significant positives to using it:
- More flexible and stretchy than the other types, so less likely to tear or be restrictive.
- Looks very attractive as an edging on a finished quilt, especially when made with patterned or plaid fabric.
- Makes a perfect edge around tight corners or curved edges without cupping or bending the fabric.
- Stronger overall, due to a higher thread count at the edge of the binding.
There are a couple of negatives to consider when choosing which binding cut to use for your quilt:
- Must be carefully cut on a 45-degree angle, so it takes longer to make.
- Uses up more fabric than other types of binding.
- Must be carefully sewn onto the finished quilt to prevent the fabric from stretching and looking warped or wavy.&
Lengthwise Cut Binding Tape
Lengthwise binding tape is made from strips of fabric cut longways and parallel to the selvage to make a stable binding with different qualities:
- Can be easier to sew on since it has no stretch to it.
- Stronger overall, because there is no stretch to it.
- Provides good support for quilts that have bias cut edges.
- Easier and less time-consuming to cut.
- Uses less fabric than bias cut binding tape.
Bias tape that’s cut lengthwise does have the following limitations:
- Has no stretch to it, which makes binding the corners more challenging.
- Cannot be used for quilts with curved edges.
- Has the lowest thread count at the edge of the binding.
Cross Grain Cut Binding Tape
Binding tape that is cross grain cut is cut straight but at a 90-degree angle from the selvage and there are a few minor advantages to cutting binding this way:
- Almost as strong as lengthwise cut tape but with a pinch of stretch to it, as fabric coming off the factory rolls and made into bolts is not totally straight so with that bit of stretch, it can be used on slightly curving edges and mitred corners.
- Uses the least amount of fabric of the three techniques.
- Has a higher thread count at the edge of the binding than lengthwise cut binding.
Like the other two types, there are a few disadvantages to using a cross grain cut tape:
- Not stretchy enough to use on curved edges or 90-degree corners.
- Not quite as strong as bias cut tape since it has a lower thread count at the edge of the binding.
Which One Should You Use?
Like many other decisions made throughout the process of cutting and piecing your quilt and then doing the final quilting on your quilting machine, the right binding depends on two things: how the finished quilt will be used and its overall design.
Cross grain binding is adequate for quilts designed for occasional use and have gentler curves.
Bias cut binding is a better choice for quilts that will see a lot of use and washing or have more significant curves.
With the most limitations, lengthwise cut binding is better for hanging projects made with your quilting machine, quilts that will see minimal use, or those with straight edges and 90-degree corners.
Choose the one that suits you and your project for the best results!