Category Archives: Tuesday’s Tip

Continuous Bias Binding

Ever looked at those romantic quilts with curved or scalloped edges?  Seen rounded corners on some old-time quilts. They are very beautiful but how do you attach the binding without getting all puckered up? Well, relax and read this post. Let’s start at the beginning as we look at bias binding.

Bias binding is not only beautiful but is so practical. Quilters prefer it for three reasons:  

I. Bias binding wraps around curved edges, rounded corners and scallops. Because the fabric used to make bias binding is cut “on the bias” it bends and stretches as you manipulate it around your quilt’s edge.

II. Practically speaking, bias binding is strong and durable on all those quilts that will go through hard use. There’s just something about the fabric threads at an angle that makes the binding withstand wear and lots of use.

III. Striped or plaid fabrics result in a fabulous candy cane or barber shop sign effect. Very cool and effective. Some of our customers only use bias bindings with striped fabric because they love the look so much!

Now we want to share with you how to create your own double fold bias binding efficiently through the “tube method”. This method gives you a long, continuous piece of bias fabric with little waste. No cutting endless short strips and wasting weird pieces at the end!

The amount of fabric needed to give you an adequate length of bias binding is determined by the following four step formula:

1. Measure the length of bias strip needed to go around the perimeter of your quilt sandwich. Remember to be somewhat “generous” in your measurement as you will have hills and valleys to wrap the binding around.

2. Determine the width of cut strip wanted. Most bias bindings are 2 to 2 1/2″ wide.

3.  Multiply the “length” x “width” of cut strip = area of fabric

Example: 230″ in length needed to go around your quilt x 2″ wide = 460″ area

4. Find square root of the area to give you the size of square you need. Use a scientific calculator to get the square root or estimate and multiply until the find the “closest EVEN NUMBER” that matches the “area” you came up with in Step #3. Round up the square root to a simple number. Eg. the square root of 460 is 21.4476105895, go with a 22″ square!

5. Cut a square the size of your square root area. OR 22″ square in our example.


1. Cut your fabric square (as per size calculated above) from the fabric you want to use as bias binding.IMG_2918


2. Cut your square in half diagonally.IMG_2920


3.  Overlap the two triangles that you have created (right sides together). Make sure to overhang the points at both ends of the pinned edge evenly.IMG_2922-1


4.  Sew the pinned edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance.IMG_2923-1


5. Your piece should now look like a parallelogram (remember geometry?)IMG_2925


6. Press the seam allowance open taking care not to stretch or distort your bias seam. Now mark lines with your ruler. Distance between the lines will be the width of bias binding you want. Eg. 2″, 2 1/4″, etc.IMG_2926


7.  Cut a slit about 5″ long or so along the line closest to the edge as shown.IMG_2928


8.  After cutting the “slit”, fold both of the outside corners to the middle and pin as shown matching up the lines on both sides of the soon to be seam. NOTE – it is crucial at this point to stagger this seam as you pin it in place leave the slit you cut as a tail off the side. I know it looks a little weird at this point but trust me, this is going to be fabulous!IMG_2929



9. Sew the seam where you have pinned it together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.IMG_2938


10.  After sewing the seam allowance, cut carefully along the lines you drew earlier (remember those lines are on the wrong side of your fabric and won’t be seen when they become enclosed in the seam of your quilt later. Cutting this is becomes the funnest part.IMG_2939


11. You are cutting a long continuous spiral. Kinda like those apple peeling tools that cut the apple peel off an apple in one continuous string.IMG_2944


12. Now you can take this long length of continuous bias binding to your iron and press all the seam joins you have open. Then press the binding in half lengthwise WRONG SIDES TOGETHER matching the raw edges.

13.  VOILA!  Now you have miles (or at least several metres of continuous  bias binding to be used on your quilt sandwich that is awaiting binding. Some quilters use this method for all of their bindings. But remember this is the best kind of binding for curves, scallops and as a way of seeing that candy cane effect.


Sew the the double fold bias to the edge of your quilt or placemat (did I mention that this method works great on placemat bindings?!  Be very careful not to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the bias strip. Be especially careful as you go around curves.

Next time, we hope to be able to show you how to apply this binding onto your project and get them curves bound up!

Happy stitching for now!



Sewing with Batiks

CantikBatiks collageOur shop is brimming with bolts and bolts of Batik Handpaints and Cantik Batiks right now. We
have lots of bolts on both levels of the store as well as kits and precuts. We have so many that we often think we are going to have to hang them from the ceiling pretty soon!


42279F8_zIt’s easy to fall in love with the richness of the colours used in batiks. The colours range from tone on tone “Flavours” and “Watercolors” to multi-coloured Handpaints. We still have lots of bolts of regular printed cotton on bolts in the store as well. So many possibilities and yet there seems to be a myth out there in the quilt world. The myth is this (and I hear it almost every week) “You cannot mix batiks and printed cottons into one project!” What? Where has this come from? No one seems to know, but we want to bust that myth and suggest that YES, you can combine batiks (or not) with other printed cottons!

Some two hundred years ago when quilt making was in the early stages, ladies pieced and quilted with silks, wools and drapery fabrics. They used whatever they would get a hold of. In the last few decades we have seen batiks and printed cottons used and designed together by a few designers such as Editya Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts and Pat Sloan who designs for Moda Fabrics. We have sold several kits that have both types of fabrics in them. Batiks and quilting cottons marry together beautifully in a project, use them alone or in combination with traditional fabrics for a fantastic effect! An excellent example is the sampler quilt pictured below.

Beginner Sampler

Traditional cottons & batiks are beautifully combined in this sampler quilt


Tips for Sewing with Batiks:

1. Microtex Sewing Machine Needle – either a 80/12 or 90/14 size of Microtex needles we get 1730afrom Schmetz have a very slim acute point. Batiks have a dense thread count. This very thin acute point creates beautiful stitches for quilt piecing. A 50 weight thread is good for piecing batiks.

2. Right Side or Wrong Side? – Batiks are almost reversible! It’s hard to tell right side or wrong side? In the batik-making process, the wax that creates the design sinks into the fabric. As a result, both sides of the fabric show a clear image after dyeing, and it is often hard to tell a difference between the right and wrong side of the fabric. When both sides are virtually identical, take your pick; I choose the right side to be where the design is clearer with less fuzzy edges.

3. Densely Woven – Batiks don’t fray as much when handled and pieces cut on the bias hardly stretch at all. These fabrics have a smooth texture that makes them easier to press and they’ll give you sharp, crisp points. Batiks press like a dream. Pressing seams to one side or open with a batik fabric is a pleasure because they hold their shape where you set your iron.

4. Prewash? – You may want to prewash your batiks before cutting and quilting with them, it’s up to you. They will soften up with washing.

Bali 2

One of several Batik fabric shelves in the store

Hopefully we’ve inspired you to sew with batiks if you’ve been apprehensive. You’ll be so happy you did!

Adding Machine Paper Foundation Piecing

Denise, who works here at the store preparing quilt kits, came across this idea and she just HAD to try it. Starting with a paper strip from an adding machine tape (either thermal or regular paper, it really doesn’t matter) she scooped up her “crumbs” of “Town Square” fabrics from Moda and sewed them onto the adding machine paper. So what exactly are “crumbs”?  Well, “crumbs” are any little bits and pieces of your favourite fabrics that you just can’t bear to toss out. This is upcycling at its best!


Here’s the steps to achieving this method of foundation piecing:

crumbs 21.  Gather up “crumbs” that you want to use. Use anything and everything for a real scrappy look, or    select matching bits that coordinate (eg. use bits from one particular line of fabrics like Denise did). Her crumbs varied from 1 – 2″ wide approximately; however go wider or narrower if you dare.

2. Roll out your adding machine tape. You will work from left to right on your length of paper. Set your stitch length to 2 or shorter so that later the paper will be easy to perforate and remove.

3. Place two pieces of fabric, right sides together, on the left end of the paper tape. Keep in mind that your fabrics need to be slightly longer than the width of the paper. These two pieces don’t have to be the same width and can be placed at an angle on the paper just as long as they hang over the width of the paper.


4. Sew 1/4″ seam allowance with your fabrics as you stitch through both of your fabrics and the paper as they lay on top of the adding machine paper.

5. Open fabrics after stitching through the paper and press the seam allowance to one side. Place your next strip on top of the raw edge on your right. It’s ok the finger press your pieces open and press with an iron at the end of your session.

6. Pieces can vary in width and can be sewn on at any angle as long as they extend the edge of paper. Continue sewing crumb pieces onto the paper repeating Step 3 ,4 & 5 above until you reach a length you want to have. Suggestion:  45″ length of tape sewn in this matter will equal a jelly roll strip and can be used in many different projects as desired.


7.  Press your fabrics now that they are all sewn onto the strip and trim up your strip to the width of the adding machine paper. In other words, trim off all the hanging over bits that extend beyond the paper. At this point you can tear out the paper from the adding machine tape.

8. Design your project as desired using any length of adding machine tape you wish!. Here are a few pictures to inspire you.

crumbs 4                     crumb strip

crumbs 3



Better Free Motion Meandering/Stippling on Quilts

Every day, almost, we hear from quilters who visit our shop and have a fear of free motion quilting their beautiful quilt tops at home. I think this is so wrong! We want everyone to be able to achieve this skill. Having a quilt project sandwiched and quilted by a long-arm professional, although beautiful, is a service you have to fork out additional money for. It can take a few weeks or even months to schedule a long-arm professional to quilt for you. For small to medium-sized quilt tops, you can start quilting them at home using the domestic sewing machine that you  already have. Think of the money you can save by learning to quilt your quilt tops at home by yourself!


It’s not so scary if you consider quilting your project in four areas, breaking down the job into four zones to tackle. Many quilts you see these days at shows and in glossy magazines are assembled with all-over gentle meandering and look awesome. Free motion quilting and stippling is like a doodle on your quilt. Some doodle experts take to this method readily because they are used to using that creative part of their brains. Some of you structured “left-brained” quilters stop short on this random approach. Relax, here’s a tip to help you join the fun that the rest of us are having whilst completing our quilts and getting more quilts completed!

Step 1:  Grab a doodle pad and draw a VERY large, VERY simple stipple line first (refer to the  blue wavy line in the diagram below). This wavy line is similar to a winding snake or piece of cooked spaghetti. You can do that, right? When you are ready, draw a wavy u-shaped line on the surface of your quilt sandwich with a water soluble marker.


Step 2: Stitch your meandering back and forth across that blue line to fill the spaces as evenly as you can with an irregular meander. (Refer to the red line in the drawing.) Work your way around the whole quilt top without getting stuck in a dead end anymore. You now have a path to follow that doesn’t look like you followed a straight line. Work on one of the four sections of your top at a time.

Try this out for a while and after a some practice and a few different projects, you may not have to draw the blue line. See if you can get to the point of visualizing the winding meander.

For the time being we hope that following a curvy line will take away the stress of having to figure out which way to go next. Come join the fun we are having doing free motion quilting and getting quilts finished. Go for it!



Thrifty Outer Borders and Binding

Here’s a quick and easy tip to remember as we consider how to save fabric and money on outer borders and binding in this new year. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

STEP 1: When planning the outer border on a quilt of any size, decide on adding a 5″ border and cut five inch strips of fabric (WOF = width of fabric). Cut as many as you need (or think you need). Relax you can always go back and cut one more if you need to! Start by cutting a few. After being attached, your outer border will finish at 4.5″. Now assemble your quilt sandwich and quilt your masterpiece.



STEP 2:  Any remaining 5″ strips and short pieces left remaining after you have added your 5″ borders can be reused (up cycled). Simply cut your left over strips and bits from the outer border into 2.5″ strips (5″ strips cut in half lengthwise become 2.5″) and they can become the start of your binding. Now you already have a head start on a matching binding! I use this process as a little game to see how far my fabric strips will take me on a project.


STEP 3: Join all those 2.5 inch strips together and make a long binding piece. Attach your binding and go as far as you can with the fabric you’ve got. If you don’t have quite enough, then cut more 2.5″ strips from your yardage and continue until your quilt is completely bound. It can be quite surprising how far your fabric will go before you have to go back and cut more.


Voila! Now you have matching binding to your outer fabric and perhaps still some left over yardage and bits to keep in your stash for future projects.