Here’s the step-by-step process I use when binding my quilts by machine. The method is similar for traditional hand finished hidden-stitched bindings, too. Be advised, this post has lots of pictures. Many are shrunk to fit. Click on the individual pictures for closeup details.
First, start by squaring up your quilt with a 90 degree corner. Use long rulers to trim the sides. Trim the batting and backing flush with the top.
Next, I select my binding pieces. Usually it’s a color to match the top. For this quilt, I used leftover pieces for a scrappy binding. Measure around the perimeter to find the total length needed. I cut enough 2 1/4″ strips to go around, adding about 10-12 inches to the total perimeter for seam allowances and mitering at the corners. Join the strips together with a miter to form a continuous strip. Trim the excess corners.
Press all of the seams open, then fold the whole strip wrong sides together and press along the length with an iron. It should now measure about 1 1/8 inches wide with right sides showing. Trim the start of your binding on a 45 degree angle. For your convenience and to prevent tangles, you can wrap a ready-to-sew binding around an empty spool of thread.
Start sewing with the binding on top of the quilt, face up. Stitch with a slightly wider than 1/4″ seam.
Leave at least a 5 inch “tail” and start on a side, away from the corners.
When you get to the corner, stop 1/4″ away from the edge, pivot and sew off at the corner. Then, take the binding out of the machine, and flip it up so that it is flush with the edge. Next, flip it back down and create a tuck underneath by folding the excess piece.
The excess piece will form the miter on the front.
You can now start sewing the rest of the binding onto the front, stopping and repeating the same process at each corner. When you get back to the beginning, stop with a gap between the beginning and ending pieces. Trim off some of the excess (green in the photo) but not too much. Then mark the angle where the beginning piece meets the end.
Using a small ruler, measure 1/2″ away from this marked line. The line should be on a 45 degree angle and you are cutting 1/2″ away from this. This will enable the ending and beginning pieces to fit nicely together. Sew them together, offsetting the little dog eared triangles to get an even seam. This will connect your continuous binding, start to end.
Close the fold and trim the “ears”.
Then sew the gap closed.
Now you are ready to flip the binding to the back and stitch it down by machine (or hand if desired). I stitch from the backside of the quilt, so the bobbin thread will be in a color to match the topside of the quilt. My favorite machine stitch is the serpentine stitch. It is both functional and decorative and it hides mistakes. Plus if you meander a little off the edge it still works!
Be sure to click on the picture to see details!
When you get to a corner you need to fold up one edge, then the other and continue sewing.
This binding looks as pretty on the back….