How to Bind Your Quilt, Optical Illusion Quilt Along Part 6

When the quilting is finished on your Optical Illusion quilt, or whatever quilt you happen to be making, just the final step of binding is left. I’d like to show you in words, pictures and videos how to bind a quilt. Let’s dive right in.

Optical Illusion Quilt

Finished Optical Illusion Quilt, 67″ x 88″

If you’re still working on your Optical Illusion quilt, no worries! This will be here when you’re ready for it. You can scroll to the bottom for links to all of the steps.

binding-scrappy-OI-christa

The first thing to decide is whether you want to make the binding from just one fabric or you want to make it scrappy.

binding one color OI christa

Which way you go is just a matter of personal preference, as there is not a right or wrong decision.

Step 1 – Calculate and cut your binding strips

A well-written quilt pattern will tell you how many binding strips to cut, but it’s handy to know how to figure it yourself. To determine the length of binding you’ll need, add up the length of the four sides (known as the perimeter) and then add 10″. The extra 10″ is for the seams and gives you a little insurance.

For example, Optical Illusion finishes at 67″ x 88″. This would be the math:

67+67+88+88+10 = 320″

You’ll need 320″ of binding. We use 40″ as the standard width of useable fabric from selvage to selvage, so from each cut across the fabric, we will get 40″ of binding. So we divide 320″ by 40″ to see how many strips to cut.

320″/40″= 8 strips

Just as a side note, if you ever divide by 40 and get something like 6.49, round up to get the number of strips. If you got 6.49, you’d round up to 7 because you’d need 7 strips.

bind_2 christa

How wide should your binding strips be cut? It’s a matter of personal preference. Most of my patterns, including Optical Illusion, give 2-1/4″ as the cut width for binding strips. But over the past few years, I often cut my strips 2″ wide and sew them to the quilt with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. If you’re a beginner, it may be a little easier to cut binding strips at 2-1/4″ wide.

Step 2 – Sew the binding into a continuous length

bind_3 diagonal seam christa

To join the strips with mitered seams, place two strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew them together across the diagonal as shown. Join all of the binding strips into one long piece.

Trim the seam allowances to 1/4″ and press the seams open.

bind_4 trim end 45º christa

Trim one end of your binding at a 45 degree angle as shown above. This will be the starting end.

Step 3 – Press the binding

bind_6 press christa

Press the binding wrong sides together along the entire length.

Step 4 – Trim the quilt and walk-around

Trim off the excess backing and batting before you attach your binding. I use a large square ruler for the corners, and a long straight ruler for the sides.

bind_5 trimming christa

Note: the quilt above is Moder X – patern available here while supplies last.

Quickly do a “walk-around” by running your binding along the perimeter of your quilt to ensure you won’t have any seams falling in the corners. If you do – move the binding up or down a few inches to avoid seams at the corners.

Step 5 – Attach the binding to the quilt

Please note: These instructions are for sewing binding to the front of the quilt and then sewing it by hand on the back to finish. If you prefer to bind completely by machine, see this video. Or:

Click to see a blog post about binding by machine.

Now back to Step 5: Attach the binding to the quilt

Starting at least 6″ – 8″ away from any corner, place your binding on the front side of the quilt and leave a tail of about 6″ – 8″. Line up the raw edges of binding with the raw edges of your quilt. The fold should be toward the quilt.

Attach a walking foot or even-feed foot or use a dual-feed setting on your machine. Starting at the pin as shown, stitch the binding onto the front of the quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

As you come to a corner, stop stitching 1/4″ before you reach the corner and sew off the corner at a 45º angle.

It will look like this. In order to miter the corner, fold the binding up and away from yourself. Keep the raw edges of the binding in line with the raw edges of the quilt as shown.

Next, fold the binding back down toward yourself, creating a tuck of fabric underneath.

The fold will form a little triangle that stands up off the quilt.

The fold will form a little triangle that stands up off the quilt; later it will form the miter on the quilt front. Now the quilt goes back under the machine.

Starting from the edge of the quilt, stitch the next side of binding down until you reach the next corner. Repeat this process for all four corners until you approach your starting point. STOP when you’re about 8″ away from where you began.

Trim off the excess, leaving a few inches of overlap to work with. Open up the end of binding and place the beginning tail inside it.

Using the cut angled end as a guide, lightly mark a line right up next to it. Then cut 1/2″ away from this measurement to account for seam allowances on both ends.

Put the two tail ends right sides together, and sew with 1/4″ seam to complete the continuous loop of binding. Finger press the seam open.

Sew that last part of the binding to the quilt. Now the binding is attached all the way around the quilt.

Step 6: Sew the binding down

The next step is to fold the binding to the back of the quilt and sew it down by hand. I love using binding clips all round the edges to hold it down. Here’s the only picture I got of my binding Optical Illusion:

binding clips

Click here to see a video of how I sew my binding down by hand.

Congratulations on finishing strong! And thank you for quilting along with me!

Optical Illusion Pattern Cover spread

Click here to get the Optical Illusion pattern in paper format.

Click here to get the Optical Illusion pattern as a pdf that you’ll download instantly to print yourself.

Optical Illusion Quilt Along

Click on each part you’d like to see.

  1. Part 1: Cutting for Optical Illusion
  2. Part 2: How to Make the Blocks
  3. Part 3: How to Sew the Quilt Top
  4. Part 4: Prepare Backing, Batting and How to Baste the Layers
  5. Part 5: Machine Quilting

Christa’s Quilt Along 1.6 – Machine Binding to Finish

Free Pattern

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Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt Wrap Up


Here are all of the previous bog posts, if you are just now joining us:

Week 1 – Supply ListJolly Jelly Roll Quilt

Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks

Week 3 – Completing the Top

Week 4 – Backing and Basting

Week 5 – Machine Quilting

Remember, you can click on any picture to enlarge it. Now, onto the binding!

I use the same techniques to attach the binding to all my quilts, whether finishing by hand or machine.

Step 1 – Square Up the Quilt

Use a large square ruler to trim up all four corners of your quilt. The square will help you achieve a nice straight 90 degree corner. Trim up all four of the sides with a longer ruler.

Square Up the Corners

Trim the Sides

Step 2 – Measure the Quilt Perimeter and Cut Enough Binding Strips

Measure the perimeter of your quilt so you know how many strips to cut.  Lay it out on your cutting mat or use a measuring tape. I folded my quilt in half to make it easier to measure. Divide your perimeter by 40 inches (the useable length of one strip).

Measure the Quilt PerimeterCut 5 strips 2 1/4 Inches Wide

Round up to the nearest number of strips and cut them 2 1/4″ wide. I cut 5 strips for my quilt.

Step 3 – Make Continuous Binding

This method is called double-fold straight grain binding. Sew all of your strips together to make one continuous piece. Miter the strips by sewing on an angle to distribute the bulk of the seam. If you are using a solid fabric, be sure to sew them all together on the same side!

Join Binding StripsSew on an AngleYou can eyeball the seam.

Trim 1/4 inch seams to the right of your sewing line and press open.

With a small square ruler, cut off one end of your binding on a 45 degree angle. Make sure your binding strips have not been folded or pressed yet. Once the end is cut, then press your binding in half along the entire length, with wrong sides touching and right sides out.

Angle the BegninngPress Binding in HalfWatch your seams if using solid fabric!

Step 4 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt

Begin sewing your binding to the quilt with a walking foot, leaving a tail of about 6-8 inches unsewn. Be sure to start on the side of your quilt, not at a corner and sew the binding to the front of the quilt. The folded side of your strips will be to your left. The open sides will be to your right. Use a quarter inch seam allowance and match your thread to your binding fabric.

Leave a TailStop 1/4 Inch AwayWhen you reach a corner, stop sewing 1/4 inch away from the end. Mark it with a drawn line or a light pencil mark if needed. Sew off the side.

Rotate the quilt and flip the binding strip up so that it is even with the side of the quilt. Then, flip it back down, forming a “pinch” of fabric at the corner. This will be the fullness that will flip around to the back creating a nice mitered corner on the front.

Sew off the Side at 1/4 InchFlip Binding UpThen Flip DownRepeat this technique for all four corners of the quilt. When you are nearly finished sewing the binding onto the front side, make sure to leave another tail of about 6-8 inches of binding so you can join the beginning and ending binding pieces.

Next Corner

Leave a GapNext, you will trim and join the ends so they fit together exactly.

If you have a lot of excess binding, you can trim some off.

Open up both binding ends and nestle your beginning binding piece (the angled cut end) on top of the ending piece so that it is flat and smooth. Mark an angle on the ending piece where the beginning piece rests on it – should be a 45 degree angle. Cut 1/2 inch away from this marked line. This will take into account the seam allowances for both pieces. Make sure your binding is not twisted and that both angled cuts are parallel to each other.

Mark the AngleCut 1/2 Inch Past Marked LineJoin the two ends by offsetting them slightly to create little tiny tips at each end. Where my pin is pointing, sew from the crevice of one triangle tip to the other, with 1/4 inch seam. Trim off the triangle tips, and press the seam open. It should be a perfect fit!

Joining the Beginning and Ending StripsFinishing the Front BindingFinger press the rest of the binding closed and complete your stitching on the front side.

Step 5 – Finishing the Binding with Decorative Machine Stitching

Pinmoors for BindingThe key to a really nice binding, whether finished by hand or machine, is to make sure it lies flat all the way around the quilt and that the corners are secure.

Once the binding is sewn to the front, simply fold it over to the back to stitch.  I like to use pins with Pinmoor anchors for safety to keep everything in place. Fold over the corners to create a nice miter and pin.

Binding by MachineI used the same decorative serpentine stitch for the binding that I used for the quilting.

You will notice I am actually stitching by machine from the back side of the quilt. This seems to give me the best results and I can control how wide the stitching is so it shows up nicely on the front.

You can see where I’ve already stitched some of the binding.

On the back, be sure to cover the line of straight stitching that was used to sew on the binding  from the front side.

The binding is just as beautiful on the backside as it is on the front. Another finished quilt!

Another Finished Quilt!

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I’d love to see your version! Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂