Tips and Tricks: Bias Cut Binding Finish

Why would a rug hooker need to use a bias cut binding finish? It can be used for any kind of rug, and it is particularly amenable to rugs that are oval or round. A few months ago, this blog featured a post about Ania’s oval “Rosewood” rug. That post briefly discusses how the finish for this rug was inspired by her “Paisley Rain Forest” rug, with the exception that it required a bias cut. There was some interest in how to complete a bias cut binding finish, and so that is the focus of this month’s blog post!

The “Rosewood” rug, with the bias cut binding finish in it’s final steps.

Step 1:

Measure around the perimeter of the hooked rug. As a example, my “Rosewood” rug was 102 inches.

Step 2:

Add 10-12 inches to your perimeter total, to allow for easing around the edges of your rug, and to allow for overlap of the bias strips when you are completing your finish. In my case, I did 102 inches + 10 inches, for a total of 112 inches. I knew that my bias strip needed to be at least that long.

Step 3:

To determine how wide of a bias strip you will need, there are two things to take into consideration. The first is how much of a finished edge you want to show from the front of your rug, and the second is how far you want the bias strip to cover on the back of the rug. To determine how wide your bias strip needs to be, double the first measurement, and add that to your second measurement.

For “Rosewood”, I decided I wanted a 0.5 inch finish visible from the front of the rug, and I wanted 2 inches of the strip visible on the back. So, the width of my strip needed to be 3 inches – 0.5 inches doubled is 1 inch, added to 2 inches. I like to have extra width on the back to protect the underside of the rug, and a wider strip also makes it easier to ease around the curves. That’s my personal preference, I know others who approach the finish like a quilt, where the strip is the same on the back and the front.

Step 4:

Now that you have your key measurements for how long and wide your strip needs to be, you need to calculate how much fabric you need to make that strip.

a) To do this, start by multiplying your length by your width. This is the area of your strip. In my example, that meant multiplying 112 inches by 3 inches, for a total area of 336 square inches.

b) Now, to determine the size of the square of fabric you need to cut, find the square root of your area, and round it up to the nearest whole number. I bet there are a few readers who are confused about how to find the square root of a number: you can find it by using the symbol on your calculator, or there are square root calculators available online. In my case, the square root of 336 square inches is 18.33, which I round up to 19. So, in theory, I would need a piece of wool that is 19 inches by 19 inches.

c) But hold on, we need to sew our strip together from that fabric, which means we need to take into consideration a seam allowance. I calculated my seam allowance based on the knowledge that each piece of wool I would sew together would have two 0.25 inch seams, which meant each piece would lose 0.5 inches to the seams. By dividing my length (112 inches) by the square root of the area of fabric I needed (19 inches) I estimated that I would have 6 seams (the total is 5.89, rounded up). 6 seams multiplied by 0.5 inches, totals 3 inches. To be safe, I added 3 inches to the 19 inches I had already calculated to allow for a seam allowance. So with this in mind, I knew I needed a piece of fabric that was 22 inches by 22 inches.

d) If you don’t have a square of fabric that matches your needs, you can calculate the size of the rectangle of fabric you’ll need instead, by calculating the area again, this time of your square of fabric. If you take the new area you calculated, and divide it by the length of the wool you’re using, it will tell you what the width of the wool needs to be for you to cut enough for your bias strips. For my finish, the area of a 22 inch by 22 inch square is 484 square inches. I didn’t have a square of fabric that matched those dimensions, but the wool I was using for the finish was off the bolt, and I had half a yard left. It was 18 inches wide. 484 square inches divided by 18 inches equals 27 inches. 18 inches by 27 inches is exactly the dimensions of a fat quarter of wool, which is just what I had. Lucky me!

Step 5:

Now that you have the piece of fabric you’ll need for your strip, it’s time to start cutting. You should be starting with either a rectangle or a square. At one corner of your wool, measure a 45 degree angle and cut along the line it makes. I use a ruler and a rotary cuter, but if that isn’t available to you, you can find a 45 degree angle by taking the top corner of your fabric and folding it over your piece of wool until it aligns with the bottom line of the fabric. Then, cut along the seam of the fold you’ve created.

Once I had my fabric, I found the 45 degree angle at one corner and cut along that angle.

Step 6:

Take your triangle piece, and without moving your initial piece of wool, move it to the opposite end of the piece of wool and seam together the two pieces, so that you have created a piece of wool in the shape of a parallelogram. Press open the seam you have created.

The triangle of wool cut from the top of this piece of wool was moved to the bottom and sewn back on.

Step 7:

Cut strips of wool at your determined width along the 45 degree edge, which is the bias edge. My strips were 3 inches wide.

I used a ruler and a rotary cuter to ensure that my strips were an even 3 inches.

Step 8:

Align your strips so that they form a 90 degree angle. Don’t align your strips by the edges, the diagonal edges will have a small overhang and that is what you want. Sew the strips together. Press open the seams, and snip the overhang. Now you have your bias strip for your finish!

When aligning your strips, allow for a small overhang when creating the 90 degree angle.

Step 9:

Now it’s time to apply your strip to your rug. Ease your bias strip at the curved edge of your rug, and pin it in place starting from approximately 3 inches from the end of your strip. Pin the strip in place all along the rug, double checking that the easing is uniform all along the rug before you begin any hand stitching. You do not want any tight pulling. I usually stand the strip along the curved edges to prevent pulling. Make sure you leave a tail at the beginning, so that there is an overlap that can be used to hide the raw edges of the binding.

When pinning your strip to your rug, leave a tail at the beginning so that the strip can overlap for your final finish.

Step 10:

Hand sew the strip to the front of your rug, as close as you can to the last row of loops that have been hooked. When you are completing stitching, overlap the end of your bias strip with the start of your bias strip, and finish by sewing both pieces of wool to the front of your rug. I usually allow for a 1 or 2 inch overlap. Trim your excess wool strip.

When sewing the strip to your rug, try to keep as close to your last row of loops as you can.

Step 11:

Turn your rug over and tack the loose edge of the strip to the back of your rug.

Step 12:

Press your rug and you are done!

The completed “Rosewood” rug.

2 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Bias Cut Binding Finish

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