Binding Tutorial

Binding is one of our most popular topics for our in-store free seminars. It can be a daunting last hurdle to finishing your quilts, but we promise it gets better with practice. There are many ways to do binding and our favorite method is simple and easy. This post will show our method step-by-step so you’re binding like a pro.

We don’t require any special tools except maybe a calculator. Now, don’t get frightened, but we are going to do a little math! For those of you that just had a panicked flashback of pop quizzes in high school math class — don’t worry. We’ll make it easy! Promise.

Before doing any of the cutting and sewing of binding, we first need to calculate how much yardage you’ll need to make the binding.

A. Measure the quilt’s dimensions. Take a deep breath…time for a little simple math. We’ll start off by figuring the number of linear inches of binding you’ll need.

  • (width + length) x 2 + 24” = linear inches
  • EXAMPLE: (60” + 70”) x 2 + 24” = 284”
  • If you’re wondering why we add the 24”, it’s because you’ll need more than just the number of linear inches around your quilt…you’ll lose a bit in the corners, plus you’ll want a bit of a tail on each end to overlap your start/finishing point.

B. Once you get the number of linear inches you’ll need, we calculate the number of strips to cut. To do this, we divide the number of linear inches by 40” and round up to a whole number.

  • Linear inches/40” = number of strips (round up!)
  • EXAMPLE: 260”/40” = 6.5 → 7 strips
  • We divide by 40” because there are about 40 inches of useable fabric once you trim the selvages per each width of fabric. Each strip you cut will be about 40” long.

C. Lastly, to determine the amount of yardage needed, multiply the number of strips by the width of the strip. We use 2 ½” strips for all our binding.

  • # of strips x 2.5″ = inches of fabric needed
  • EXAMPLE: 7 strips x 2.5″ = 17.5”

Now that you have that figured, the real fun begins. Time to cut and sew!

1. Once you have the appropriate yardage of fabric for your binding, cut it into the number of needed 2 ½” strips. Be careful how you cut! Cut exactly perpendicular to the fold, otherwise you will end up with a “V”-shaped strip.

CutStrips

I used the lines on my ruler to be sure I cut at a perfect 90 degree angle with the fold.

Note: You don’t need to cut off the selvage just yet — you will be trimming them off as we join the strips together.

2. Join all the strips with a diagonal seam.

  • Place the two fabric strips right sides together, perpendicular to each other. Let the ends overlap each other as shown in the photo. This will allow you to see the corners where you need to sew. Secure strips with a straight pin. Once you have your strips pinned in place, you can “check your work” by folding your strip over and see if your seam will give you a straight strip of fabric.
Overlap&Pin

In case it wasn't clear, I've noted what the right side of the binding fabric I used is, and what the wrong side is since they look similar.

StraightLine

By folding over where I pined, I can see that when I sew a seam, my strip will make a straight line.

  • Using a fabric pen or pencil, mark the top strip on the diagonal, beginning and ending the line at the corner created where the two strips intersect each other. Sew strips together on the marked line.

SewingDiagonals

  • Continue to join your strips until you have the binding length required for your quilt – this is the linear inches calculated in Step A.
  • Trim away all excess fabric, leaving about a 1/4″ seam allowance to the right of the seam lines. Press the seams allowance open.
TrimSeams

Trim off your excess fabric -- including the selvages.

PressOpen

3. Fold the strip lengthwise and press with wrong sides together.

FoldInHalf

4. Trim your quilt. After the quilt is quilted, trim the excess backing and batting from the quilt.  We leave a scant 1/8″ of batting and backing around the quilt edge.

TrimQuilt

5. Next, unfold the left end of the binding strip and lay flat with the wrong-side facing up. Make a 45º cut to the left – see photo for the direction of the cut.  Fold in about ⅜” on this angled end (wrong sides together) and press. Fold the whole strip in half again and re-press. Trim off the extra little “flap” (see photo).

45Cut

Press&Fold

PressAgain

TrimEar

Final

Here's what the left end of your binding should look like when you're finished.

6. Start sewing your binding onto the quilt.

  • Starting in the middle of one of the quilt sides, align the raw edges of the binding with the edge of the quilt top (not the back!) – you will have a little batting showing.  Pin binding to the project at the beginning of the binding in a few places.
PinDown

Note: I did not use batting on this quilt, so make sure there is a little bit of batting showing when you align your binding with your quilt top!

  • About ½” in from where the double thickness of binding starts, begin sewing using a ¼” seam allowance.
StartHere

Start sewing about where I am pointing.

7. Sew around your entire project mitering the corners.

  • To miter a corner, stop sewing ¼” before the corner of the quilt and backstitch a few stitches.

StopSewing

  • Fold the unsewn tail of quilt binding straight up, positioning it so that its right edge is even with the next side of the quilt to be bound (Side B) and perpendicular to the side you just sewed the binding to (Side A).

Miter1

  • Next, fold the binding down, with the top of the fold flush with the edge of Side A and raw edges aligned with Side B. Pin the fold in place.

Miter2

Miter3

Miter4

  • Start sewing at the top edge of the binding. Then sew one or two backstitches before you continue sewing down Side B of the quilt.

Miter

8. Continue around your quilt until you are close to the starting point.  Stop a few inches before your starting point.  You do not need to remove it from your machine.  Put the needle of the sewing machine down into the binding to help anchor it while you cut the end.

9. Lay the end of the binding over the starting point and cut the end (using sharp scissors) at an angle (a 45 degree angle to the right) and nest into the tube of the binding. Make the binding lay flat – edges flush with the edge of the quilt. Continue sewing until you are past your starting point.

Nest

10. Once your binding has been machine stitched to your quilt, press the binding from the front of the quilt and down over the back.  You should be covering up the stitches and your binding should be full of batting.  Hand stitch in place using a blind hem stitch or ladder stitch about 8 stitches to the inch.  Use binding clips to help hold your binding in place while sewing by hand.  When you reach a corner, place a few stitches in the miter on both sides of the binding.  Also make sure you stitch the join closed.  And you’re done!

Pressing

— Posted by Della & Stacy

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14 responses to “Binding Tutorial

  1. On your math calculations, it appears that you doubled your length and width measurements, but did not add 24 inches. 60 + 70 = 130, x2 = 260, 260 + 24 = 284″.

  2. Oh boy! Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. This is so awesome! I just made a baby quilt for my niece and am almost at the point of putting on the binding. How timely! Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. How funny! The quilt I used as an example in the photos was a baby quilt for my niece as well!

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  6. This is probably the best tutortial on binding that I’ve read – is there a way we can print it out?? Thanks!!

  7. You should be able to print this page — it’ll be about 14 pages long with the photos.

  8. I’ve never had any formal binding instruction before. That 45 degree cut & sewing strips together will certainly improve my binding. You don’t know what you don’t know . . . .

  9. Great instructions Stacy. I do know an easy way to finish with no unseen seam. (i.e Step 9)

  10. Oops, that should be un-sewn seam. Darn spell correct.

  11. Stacy I found your tutorial excellent!! Thank you for taking the time to make it.

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  13. I look forward to using this method. I have too many projects not bound. sounds like some good down time.

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