Directions for How to Bind a Quilt - Plus a Quick Quilt Project

16 Dec 2013

At our weekly office show-and-tell, assistant editors Kristine Lundblad and Barbara Delaney both had quilts to reveal. Barb showed hers without a quilt binding, because as soon as she finished adding it, she will rush to the post office and mail the quilt to her new baby granddaughter. Barb plans to use the turquoise fabric to finish the quilt.

barbara delaney is ready to bind a quilt
Barbara Delaney and her baby quilt,
ready for binding.

Binding a quilt is, of necessity, the last step in quilt finishing. For many of us, it is also the most boring. The creative part is over and now it's a matter of sewing--and getting those corners mitered! Many quilts languish in piles while their makers "get around" to adding a binding (guilty!), unless they have a deadline like Barb does.

There are many alternative ways for binding quilt projects, but if you're making a quilt that will be used and washed, this basic method is the one many quilters prefer:

Directions for creating a double-layer quilt binding (one fold):

1. Cut strips of your binding fabric straight across on the crosswise grain, selvedge to selvedge, or on the bias, as you prefer.

2. Lay two strips right sides together, at right angles. The area where the strips overlap forms a square. Sew diagonally across the square as shown. Trim the excess fabric ¼" away from the seamline and press the seam allowances open. Repeat to join all the strips, forming one long fabric band.

3. Fold the strip of fabric you have prepared for the binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides together; press.

sewing a quilt binding
Step 2, connecting the strips of
quilt binding fabric.

4. Open the binding and press ½" to the wrong side at one short end. Refold the binding at the center crease and proceed. Starting with the folded-under end of the binding, place it near the center of the first edge of the project to be bound, matching the raw edges, and pin in place.

5. Begin sewing at the appropriate distance from the raw edge, leaving several inches of the binding fabric free at the beginning.

6. Stop sewing ¼" before reaching the corner, backstitch, and cut the threads. Rotate the project 90 degrees to position it for sewing the next side.

sewing a quilt binding
Attaching the quilt binding.
7. Fold the binding fabric up, away from the project, at a 45-degree angle (1), then fold it back down along the project raw edge (2). This forms a miter at the corner. Stitch the second side, beginning at the project raw edge (2) and ending ¼" from the next corner, as before. Continue as established until you have completed the last corner.

8. Continue stitching until you are a few inches from the beginning edge of the binding fabric. Overlap the pressed beginning edge of the binding by ½" (or overlap more as necessary for security) and trim the working edge to fit.

9. Finish sewing the binding, opening the center fold and tucking the raw edge inside the pressed end of the binding strip. Fold it over the project raw edges to the back, enclosing the raw edges. The folded edge of the binding strip should just cover the stitches visible on the project back.

black and white cross quilt and chevron pillow
Black and White Cross Quilt
and Chevron Pillow.
10. Slipstitch or blindstitch the binding in place, tucking in the corners to complete the miters as you go (3).

That's all there is to it. So why don't you put finishing a quilt on your to do list? Then you can move on to enjoying the quilts you make.

If you don't have a project in progress, I have a suggestion: The Black and White Cross Quilt and Chevron Pillow from Modern Patchwork Winter 2014. It comes together easily, and we have kits with all the pre-cut fabric.

P.S. What's your preferred method of binding? Share your answer and any tips below.


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

BonnieG@15 wrote
on 17 Dec 2013 3:58 PM

I always sew My bindings on the back first and turn them to  the front and edge stitch the binding down by machine, especially on baby quilts. If I machine pieced and quilted the quilt why not finish by machine and save my hand sewing time for that Baltimore Album Quilt?

Tammy J wrote
on 18 Dec 2013 11:40 PM

I join my last binding seam with a diagonal seam, just like all the others.  It gives a nice finish, no extra bulk, and easy to sew down on the back.  I love sewing the binding, it's a great feeling seeing the last steps come together!

on 21 Dec 2013 12:14 PM

I LOVE to do the binding. After hours on the machine (usually at breakneck speed!), it's so rewarding to finish a quilt with a relaxing hand sewing session, perhaps in front of the TV.

fnewiest wrote
on 21 Dec 2013 12:34 PM

I absolutely love doing machine binding but I use the Faux Piping binding method, not only is it quick and easy, it adds another artistic dimension to my quilting, love it, love it!

Osuzyq828 wrote
on 21 Dec 2013 2:38 PM

I enjoy the time spent sewing the binding to the back by hand after all the labor intense free motion quilting and of course making and sewing the binding onto the finished quilt. TV time!

Jessica1004 wrote
on 21 Dec 2013 2:44 PM

I either sew my binding to the back then fold it to the front and machine stitch it down for daily use quilts. Or I attach it to the front while on my longarm and hand stitch to the back once it's off the frame.  One thing that I like to do either way, is stop 1/4" from the corner, then fold as shown & start attaching again 1/4" from the turned corner. This way I can fold the binding for finishing at the corner either direction, so that all my corner fold either the same direction for bed quilts or , they all fold toward the inside on wall quilts as that replicates the way that canvas corners would be done if the quilt was a painting. This allows for the light to shine nicely and avoid unwanted shadows when a gallery or show light is focused on the quilt.

lellytots wrote
on 2 Feb 2014 10:09 PM

This is so awesome. I've been looking for tutorials on this. Thank you so much.