How to Fold Your Quilt on the Bias 

Have you ever heard someone say that you should fold your quilt on the bias, but you didn’t know what that meant, how to do it, or why you should even bother? Then this blog post is for you!

“Regular” folding vs Bias Folding

If I was to hand a quilt to someone and ask them to fold it up, they’d probably start by folding it in half, right? 

It makes sense - that’s what any normal person would do! 

Our instinct is to bring two edges together, create a crease, and repeat until the quilt was an appropriate size for our purposes. 

Chances are, this is the way all of the quilts in your house are folded up (whether they’re in a cupboard, on a shelf, hanging on a ladder, or draped over the back of the couch). But this style of folding (which I’ll call “regular” folding) might be doing more harm than good to your quilts. 

If you want to prolong the life of your quilts, you might want to try folding your quilts on the bias instead. It’s a simple and easy technique that starts with some diagonal folds and ends with a sweet little parcel that will be perfect for displaying or storing your quilts. 

Problems with Regular Folding

When you fold your quilts the regular way, you’re creating harsh creases at the fold lines. Think of fabric straight off the bolt: it always has a *really* harsh crease where the fabric was folded in half before being wound around the bolt. 

That crease is hard to iron out because it was made on the straight of grain (meaning that it runs parallel to the selvedge). 

Folding your quilts in the regular way creates similar creases that are hard to remove. If you were to try and iron them out, it would take a lot of effort and steam to make them disappear. This is where I'm glad I have my Reliable Velocity 270IR iron, but I'd rather not spend my time doing this!

Furthermore, the creases can (over time) weaken the fibres of your quilt and may lead to holes. 

That’s why quilt historians, archivists, and librarians would recommend that you fold your quilts on the bias.

Benefits of folding on the bias

When you fold your quilts on the bias, the diagonal crease is spread out along the stretchy portion of your fabric. The fibres are much better able to handle the stress of being folded, and the likelihood of a hole or tear is much lower. 

If you were to fold a quilt on the bias, store it away for months, and then hang it up, the creases would a) be much less pronounced than if you had folded it the regular way, and b) would remove themselves with a little time. 

I can speak to this personally as I’m always switching out the quilt hanging in my sewing room. After a few hours of hanging, the creases are almost always gone, and the ones that are still visible are easily removed with a quick press. 

When to bother?

There are three main situations where I’d recommend folding your quilts on the bias:

Long-term storage

If you’re going to be putting your quilt away for an extended period of time, I’d take the time to fold them on the bias. I don’t bother to fold up our everyday quilts - they get tossed on the couch so they’re ready for snuggling at any time.

But if I’m finished photographing a quilt and putting it away for future use (or switching it out seasonally), I spend a few extra seconds and fold it on the bias. 

Sending quilts to a show

I cannot tell you how many wrinkly, creased quilts I’ve seen hanging in quilt shows!🫣 It makes me cringe because I think it detracts from the overall beauty of the project.

I realize that it’s not feasible (or advisable) for show volunteers to iron or steam every quilt, so that leaves the majority of the crease-prevention in the hands of the quilt maker. With just a bit of extra effort, you can send your quilt away knowing that it will look its very best while on display

Sending a quilt to a longarmer

This is where my bias as a longarm quilter comes into play. 😉

If you fold your quilt top and backing the regular way and send them away, your longarmer is going to have to spend time and effort pressing them before they can be quilted. They may or may not charge you for this service.

However, if they’re folded on the bias the folds will relax easily and your longarmer will be able to get straight to work on your project. 

I ask all of my clients to fold their fabric on the bias, and I have never once had to press a quilt top or backing. Everyone wins!

I also fold every quilt on the bias before I package it up and return it to its owner. This technique creates a neat little package that I (assume) delights my clients when they open their parcel!

How to fold your quilt on the bias

So how do you actually DO this? 

First of all, it’s simple and fast. Second, I promise that you have all you need to do this in your current home. 

Starting point

I’m going to show you on my living room floor, but if you don’t have a large open space like this (or don’t want to put your quilts on the floor), you can easily do this on a bed.

Start by laying your quilt with the piecing face-down. When you’re done folding, the piecing will be on the outside, which will help you easily identify it.

The diagonal folds you’re about to create will all be on the bias, which means they’ll help prolong the life of your quilt.

Step 1

Grab the bottom right corner and fold it towards the center of the quilt. 

I like to make sure that the point is past the center of the quilt (but I don’t ever measure).

You want to create an (approximately) 45° angle and have these two edges of the quilt be parallel.

Step 2

Grab the bottom left corner of the quilt and fold towards the center of the quilt. 

You want the two edges to be touching, and these two edges to be parallel.

At this point, your quilt should look (sort of) like an upside down house.

Step 3

Pull in the top right corner of the quilt towards the center of the quilt.

The bottom folds should be touching, and these two folds should be parallel to each other.

If your point is extending beyond the edge of the quilt, just tuck it back under so that you have two parallel folds.

Step 4

Take the last remaining corner and fold it towards the center. All of the edges should be lined up, leaving you with a roughly-rectangular (or square) shape. 

Step 5

Now all you have to do is take this rectangle and fold it into a smaller one until it will fit on your shelf. Since all of the outside edges are folded on the bias, you can now fold this the regular way and all of the news folds will ALSO be on the bias!

It’s as easy as that! 

Let me know in the comments if you already fold your quilts on the bias, or if you’re going to start!

Prefer video?

If you’re more of a visual learner, you might want to check out my YouTube tutorial about this. 

Pro tip: you can use the chapters to skip ahead to the actual folding. 

Happy viewing! 

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