Binding a Quilt
The finishing touch to a quilt is the
addition of a binding strip around the outer edges. This is done for a
couple of reasons.
The outside edge of a quilt is the most susceptible to wear. The binding strengthens the quilt.
It is also the last chance to add a
decorative element to the quilt. Some quilters like a wide binding, and
others, like myself, like a narrow, tight binding.
However, all quilters agree that a folded,
double edge binding is best.
If your quilt has rounded edges, you
will want to make a bias binding. These instruction are for a
quilt that has straight edges.
Some quilters find the binding the most
challenging part of making a quilt. Once learned, it is not hard to do It just
takes time. However, thefinal hand sewing can be both relaxing and rewarding. So here we go!
The edges of the binding strip are sewn on before the
fabric, batting and backing edges are
trimmed. How much fabric you leave, depends
on your binding width.
Your binding strip must be long
enough to wrap around the quilt, with 8 plus inches to spare. When
you trim the edge of the quilt, and wrap the binding aroud to the
back, you want the binding to be filled with batting.
The picture at the top of the page is part
of the top edge of a tablerunner. You can see it is very narrow, but
provides a nice finishing touch. I used a sold fabric, which is usually a
In this case, because of the small size of the tablerunner, the binding strip
was only cut 1 7/8 inches wide.
You begin by cutting your strips at your
desired width (remembering that they will be folded in half). You can use a rotary cutter, or
you may be able to tear it. Just check, before tearing, that your fabric tears
straight. You will have to deal with loose threads,
but it will quickly give you a nice even width strip. It will be wavy, but will
If you are making a large project,
you will need to sew several strips together. Measure all 4 sides, and
then add some extra for turning the corners and finishing the last seam. I
like to add 8-12 inches.
There are several steps in
process that are tricky. The first one is sewing the binding strips
together so that the seams are diagonal. Here is how to do it:
Look at the picture and you will see that
you place these strips, right side together, in opposite directions. Then
you draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the top strip. Be sure
and draw the line at the correct angle, so that after you sew it, and open it
up, the strip will
is the seam pressed open (not to one side like your other quilting
seams) and before it is trimmed. After you trim your seams, press
the strip wrong sides together, and roll it up into a ball so it will be easier to
The next element that is tricky is making
the corners. There is an easy way, and one that requires more practice,
the mitered seam.
The difference in appearance is substantial enough that it is worth your time to
learn to do it correctly from the beginning.
In the picture to the left, you can
see there is a small diagonal seam in the corner. The back also
makes a similar seam.
When your binding is ready, begin by placing the raw edges of the binding on
the edge of the quilt. When you begin sewing on the binding, you want to start about
7-inches in from the end of the binding strip. You must leave enough
binding so that when you go around the quilt and meet the starting edge, you will have some
length in the starting strip to work with to make the final seam.
you want the strip to start (usually somewhere on the side), and draw the loose
binding strip around the edges of the quilt to make sure one of the binding
seams doesn't fall on any of the corners of the quilt. If one of
them looks close, adjust the starting place of your strip.
Using your usual 1/4 inch seam, begin
stitching the binding to the quilt. When you get towards the end of the row,
slow down, and stop your stitching 1/4 of an inch from the end.
Leaving your needle in the down position, rotate your quilt 90 degrees so that
you can backstitch and sew off the fabric.
Pull the quilt completely out from under
the presser foot. Take the binding, and pull it up so that it aligns in a
straight line with the next edge of the fabric, as show in the picture above.
Notice the 45 degree angle on the binding.
Next, take your strip, keeping the 45
degree angle intact, and from the position it is in per the picture above, just
lower it down on the edge of the fabric as in the next illustration.
Put the quilt back under the presser foot,
and continue sewing from the edge until you get to the next corner, where you repeat the
Continue around the quilt, until you get to
your starting point.
There are several ways to sew up the loose
ends. Some are very complicated for a beginner. If you don't mind
one straight seam in your binding, the easiest way is to just open up and fold back
the edge of one of the binding strip ends, refold it, and then slip the other
one under it.
In the picture to the left the fabric has been
opened out and folded back to make a clean edge. Then it has been
refolded (wrong sides together)
The binding strip on the left has
then been inserted into the folded strip on the other side. Then just continue sewing the
strip to the fabric.
When you are done machine stitching
the binding to the edge, just roll it to the inside, and hand stitch it
over the seam. You can use your machine, but it never comes out as
even and nice looking as when you do it by hand. If you do decide
to machine stitch it, you might think about using invisible thread and
using a zig-zag stitch to be sure and catch all the edges.