Tutorial: How to Bind a Quilt

I love making every part of a quilt, including the binding, so I thought I’d share with you my favorite method for binding my quilts. It’s called continuous length, double fold, straight of grain binding. That’s a mouthful, but it’s how I do all my quilts.

the quilt Shown is Modern X. Pattern available here.

Ready for picture overload? Here goes:

bind_0

Note: I used Kona Solid Charcoal for my binding strips with Aurifil thread #1246.

Step 1 – Calculate and cut your binding strips

bind_1Measure the perimeter of your quilt by adding the length and width of your quilt and multiplying that by 2. Then add an extra 10 inches to deal with seams and corners. For example, my quilt measures 56″ x 70″. Here’s how I calculate my binding:

56+56+70+70+10 = 262 inches needed

Next, take this measurement and divide it by 40 inches. This will tell you the number of strips you will need to cut, with 40″ of useable fabric. My number is 6.55 which I will round up to 7 strips of fabric.

bind_2I like my binding to finish approximately 1/4″ on both front and back. Therefore I will cut my strips at 2 1/4″ wide. You can cut them wider if you prefer more of the binding to show.

I need to cut a total of (7) 2 1/4″ wide strips to bind my quilt.

Step 2 – Sew the binding into a continuous length

Place two strips right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew them together at a 45 degree angle across the diagonal. Sewing mitered seams like this helps distribute the bulk. If needed, you can draw a straight line across the diagonal, or press one of the ends along the diagonal to form a sewing line.

bind_3If you are using solid fabric like me, it will be a little trickier to keep track of which is the “right” side. You can use a pin or piece of tape to designate the right side if you like. Be sure to trim the starting edge of your binding at a 45 degree angle, too.

bind_4

Step 3 – Press the binding

Press the binding wrong sides together along the entire length.

bind_6Step 4 – Attach the binding to the quilt

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_5Quickly run 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.

bind_7Starting at least 6″ – 8″ away from the corner, place your binding on the front side of the quilt and leave a tail of about 6″ – 8″. Line up the open binding ends with the edge of your quilt. The folded edge should be facing towards the quilt.

bind_8Starting at the pin shown in the previous photo above, stitch the binding onto the front of the quilt with 1/4″ seam allowance. Use a walking foot or even-feed if possible. When you get to a corner, stop stitching 1/4″ away from the corner and sew off the corner.

bind_9At this point, your corner should look like this:

bind_10Take the quilt off the machine and fold the binding up and away from the quilt as shown. Keep the edge of the binding in line with the edge of the quilt as shown.

bind_11Bring the binding back down, creating a tuck of fabric underneath. This will form the miter on the front of the quilt.

bind_12Starting from the edge of the quilt, stitch the next side of binding down until you reach the next corner and repeat this process for all four corners.

bind_13Leave an ending tail of 6″ – 8″ of binding. 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.

bind_14

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.

bind_15Put the two tail ends right sides together, and sew with 1/4″ seam to complete the continuous loop of binding.

bind_16Close up the binding and finish stitching it down on the front of the quilt. You are now ready to finish stitching the binding down on the back of the quilt.

bind_17Step 5 – Secure with clips

I find it easier to completely secure the binding to the back of the quilt with clips before I begin hand-stitching it down. For a throw sized quilt it takes about 100 wonder clips to go all the way around the quilt. Pins or hair clips work well, too.

bind_18Step 6 – Hand stitch the binding on back

Put on a good movie and enjoy the relaxing process of hand work for a pretty finish.

Thread several needles using the same cotton thread you used to sew on the binding. Clip off about 18″ of thread to use at a time. Wrap the thread around the needle 3 times and pull it to the end of you thread to create a quilter’s knot. You can double your thread for extra strength and durability.

bind_19I use a thimble to help push the needle through the fabric when needed.

Tuck the knot underneath the binding, then grab a bite of the backing of the quilt and then a bite of the binding to complete each stitch.

bind_20Continue forming each stitch by bringing the needle in behind each previous stitch and pushing it out ahead of the last stitch. Pull the thread slightly taut as you go.

bind_21When you get to the corners, be sure to sew them closed. Take a few stitches on the back to close the miter. Push the needle through to the front, stitch the front of the miter closed, then push the needle to the back again.

bind_22When you are near the end of a length of thread, make a knot, then take a stitch through the backing and batting only, pop it through the backing and cut off the excess. Continue in this manner until you’ve sewn down the entire quilt.

Congratulate yourself on a great finish!

The quilt shown is Modern X. Pattern is available for purchase here.

For my tutorial on how to bind by machine, please click here.

12 thoughts on “Tutorial: How to Bind a Quilt

  1. Holly says:

    I just entered my first 2 quilts at our guild quilt show! Both quilts the judge said that the batting didn’t fill the binding. I’m not sure how to do that, I thought I really folded it over tight to bind in place, any tips?thank you holly

  2. Jeanne says:

    I am not sure I am doing this right. Why sew the corners closed? I am still learning, but I’ve
    never seen anyone sew the corners closed. I will try this closing on the quilt I am working on.
    Thank you so much for shearing.

  3. Jil says:

    What a great tutorial! It gives me confidence! 🙂 I cut my binding strips 2.5″–would my seam allowance stay at 1/4″?

    • Christa says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you like it. Yes, I’d keep the seam allowances at 1/4″ and that would give you more overlap on the backing. If you want a thicker binding, you could leave a little extra backing sticking out before you fold over the binding.

  4. Elizabeth Kuntz says:

    No matter how often I try this method I get all fumbly and make a mess. Why can’t I connect the ends properly? I’m sure it’s a mental block but I just can’t seem to master this.

  5. Ruth says:

    If you cut your overlap the width of your binding, in this case the overlap would be 2 1/4″.
    Miter your corner as shown, the binding will be the exact length you need.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Very clear tutorial. I’m still trying to get the hang of bringing those ends together. This will help. I too have that binding ruler that I can never figure out how to use!!

  7. Barbara says:

    Thanks For the tutorial Christa. It was great to see that I am preparing and attaching my binding the same way that such a talented quilter does it. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with the quilting community.

  8. Marlyn says:

    I must say, your method of joining the ends of the binding together is the easiest I’ve done. I have previously bought a special ruler tool, which I can never remember how to use when the time comes and have struggled with matching the ends to sew that seam. More than once I had the ends twisted the wrong way, so had to rip what I just sewed and redo. I’m using your way from now on! Thanks Bunches.

  9. Riva says:

    When you are sewing the binding to finish the quilt–the folded edge of the binding is away from you as you sew–is this important to do it this way? When I do the binding, the folded edge is facing me; your corners look terrific…..will practice what you have said and shown. Thank you.

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