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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Cutting Lengthwise Grain Borders and Binding | Rotary Cutting | AccuQuilt

Sometimes I like to use the same fabric for the outer border and the binding. I also like to cut my borders along the lengthwise grain. Depending on the size of the border, there will be  a chunk of fabric leftover. I love to make scrap quilts so this doesn't bother me.

Why Lengthwise Cuts?

The lengthwise grain runs parallel to the selvage. It is stronger and stretches less than the crosswise grain which runs from selvage-to-selvage. The lengthwise grain gets it's strength from the warp threads which are continuous along the length of the fabric. The weft threads are the shorter threads which are woven across the warp threads. 

Fabric cut from the lengthwise grain has no stretching or easing and makes the borders lay flat. Lengthwise grain binding is easier to attach because there is no stretching. Here are two short videos explaining this in a little more detail:



  • This method is for straight or cornerstone borders.
  • The border strips are sewn to the longest edge first.
  • With 42" of usable width of fabric, this method works for borders cut up to 8" wide and binding strips cut up to 2-1/2" wide. Check your usable width before cutting.

How Much Fabric?

Example: Finished quilt size of 75" x 95":

  1. Determine the finished size of your quilt top and use the length of the longest side in your calculations. In this example that number is 95".
  2. Add 5" just to be safe. 95" + 5" = 100" so you will need 100" of fabric from the bolt.
  3. Divide this number by 36 to determine the yardage. 100 / 36 = 2.77 yards or 2-7/8 yards.

Cutting Lengthwise Grain Binding and Borders

Open the fabric and press out the middle crease. Pressing enables you to make more accurate cuts when you reach the center.

With the fabric still open, fold in half with the cut edges together. The selvage edges will be on both sides as shown below.

Keep folding in half until the fabric fits on your cutting mat. Use the longest ruler you that fits on your mat so the cuts will be as straight as possible. 

Cut 1 - Starting at one of the selvage edges, cut off the selvage.

Cuts 2 thru 5 - The cut width of the border.

Cuts 6 thru 9 - The cut width of the binding. Now you have 4 border strips and 4 binding strips. 

Attaching the Borders

Attach borders to the longest side first. Why? Remember we cut the length of all 4 border strips the size of the longest side plus a little extra. If we attach borders to the smaller sides first the remaining strips will not be long enough to attach the longest sides later.

  1. Measure the longest side. It is best to measure in three places: both of the longest sides and down the middle. Take the average of these three and cut two border strips to that size. Attach these borders first.
  2. Measure the two remaining sides and cut the two remaining border strips to that length and attach.

Wasting Fabric?

I want to address the idea that this method wastes fabric. Some people have told me that using this method can result in lots of leftover fabric. That's true if your border strips are narrow.

In the example above we used 100" of fabric. With a usable width of 42 inches and borders cut at 3-1/2" the leftover fabric will be a strip about 18" wide by 100" and will include the selvage. Here's what you can do with this fabric:

  • cut 4 strips at 2" for a 1-1/2" finished inner border and 4 strips at 2-1/2" for another binding, or
  • cut 4 strips at 4-1/2" for a 4" finished border.

If you're cutting narrow borders and it bugs you to  have this much leftover fabric, then this method isn't for you. However, if you are cutting wide borders and the binding, this method makes use of most of the fabric. I like having stable borders without seams.

AccuQuilt Owners

You can cut lengthwise grain strips with your AccuQuilt Strip Cutter. Check out this video:

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