THE BEST (AND FASTEST) WAYS TO CUT BINDING STRIPS

If you are a quilter, chances are you are familiar with the age-old debate on how to finish your quilt, machine bind or hand bind?  Personally, I always hand bind my quilts but that’s a post for another day.

Today I want to talk about how I actually cut my binding strips.  While you can, of course, always use a plain old rotary blade and ruler, there are some really easy ways to save time on this step.  And let’s be honest, cutting strips for binding is nobody’s favorite part of making a quilt.

Two of my favorite (ahem, fastest) ways to make binding strips are using my Creative Grids Stripology Ruler or my Accuquilt Go!.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me to compare the difference between these two methods, so here is my honest opinion based on five factors: speed, accuracy, cost, storage and versatility.

First, if you are not familiar with either of these tools, I recommend you click the links above or watch the quick video that I made showing how they work.

Speed

Since no one loves cutting binding strips, getting it done and moving on to your next project as fast as you can is pretty important.  Both of these tools will save you a ton of time over the old-school method of rotary blade and ruler.  I have the XL Creative Grids Ruler, so I can make ten 2.5 inch strips without ever moving my fabric. If I fold my fabric and cut through several layers, that is usually more than enough strips to finish my project. A couple of minutes and my strips are all cut!

The Accuquilt Go! has a die (or I sometimes call them templates) for cutting three 2.5 inch strips at a time.  The die is designed to hold the width of the fabric, folded in half once (about 22 inches) and can cut through up to six layers of fabric.  This means that with just one pass through the machine, there is enough strips to bind a queen-sized quilt.

So which is faster?  Probably the Accuquilt Go!.  It takes a few more seconds to set up but is for sure faster once you start cranking.

Accuracy

Speed doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t making accurate cuts.  The Stripology Ruler has a cutting slot on the end for squaring off your fabric to help make the most accurate cut.  However, you do need to make sure your ruler is aligned parallel to your fabric and straight on your cutting mat.  That being said, it is pretty easy to get the hang of and my strips usually come out perfectly sized.

While my strips turn out accurate 99% of the time using my Stripology Ruler, the Accuquilt Go! probably wins in this category too.  As long as your fabric covers the entire area of the blade on the die, there is no need to line up fabric, and thus less room for user error.  One thing is for sure, both methods give me much more accurate strips than a plain old ruler and blade.

Cost

Price point is where these two tools really start to differ.  The XL Stripology Ruler retails for about $70 (smaller sizes are less expensive, I believe the mini size is about $40).  

The Accuquilt Go!, however, is $325.  There is a smaller version available called the Accuquilt Go! Me, but I can’t speak to how to works.  In addition to the cutter, you also need to purchase each die or template separately.  The die for the 2.5 inch strips is $100 (smaller dies and applique dies are generally less than this). That being said, they are always running sales on their website, so wait for a good one!

Storage

If you are running out of space in your sewing room , you may have to reorganize in order to make space for your Accuquilt Go!  While there are a few different size cutters, you also need to store the different dies and templates.  On the other hand, the XL Stripology Ruler is about 18×22 inches, and chances are you already have a place to store rulers. 

Versatility

The Stripology Ruler is a specialty ruler designed just as it says, for cutting strips of fabric.  The XL ruler allows you to cut any size strip or block, up to 20 inches, in half inch increments (for example, half inch, 1 inch, 1.5 inch, etc).

On the other hand, making binding strips is just one of the wonderful things the Accuquilt system is designed to do.  Once you have a cutter, there are hundreds of dies to choose from to cut shapes; from strips to triangles to curved piecing, and even animals, flowers and hearts for applique.  Next on my wish list is a die for English Paper Piecing hexagons, which includes a template for cutting both the paper pieces and fabric (yes, it cuts paper too!) 

The Bottom Line

If you are just interested in saving time cutting strips for binding or piecing, I think it makes sense just to purchase the Stripology Ruler (it’s one of my most used tools).  The difference in speed and accuracy is small compared to the price difference. However, if you think you will use the system for other block shapes, applique or English Paper Piecing, the Accuquilt Go! is definitely worth the investment!

The Accuquilt Go! may not work with specific patterns, depending on how they are written and depending on which dies you purchase.  But if you love being creative, I think you will love the Accuquilt system. 

And there is certainly the case for having both.  For example, I recently used the Accuquilt Go! to cut strips for an Irish Chain quilt that I am piecing. But used the Stripology ruler to subcut the strips once they were sewn together.   So I guess the real question is, how many quilting tools is too many?  For me, the limit does not exist.

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