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Quilting Basics Part 5 - Binding

Missed Part 4? Check it out here

Binding is the final step in creating a quilt. Binding as a noun, is the fabric sealing in the raw edges of the quilt sandwich, "I put the binding on my quilt." As a verb, it is the application of this fabric, "I finished binding my quilt!" While there are different ways to bind a quilt, the technique described here is the most widely used. When I'm making a quilt for use, I use machine stitching for all the binding steps. When I'm making a quilt for display or for a show, I will do the final binding stitching by hand. These instructions are for machine stitching. The variation for hand stitching is described at the end. I broke down how to bind a quilt in a lot of detail intentionally. These instructions are for any quilter but especially for someone who has never done or seen this before. Binding is very doable and it completes the quilt so it is worth pushing through to the end. Some of the links in this tutorial keep my sewing machine in fabric and thread.


Step 1 - Cut out 2 1/2" strips along the length or width of the fabric. Quilt patterns typically list how many strips are needed. To figure out how many strips you need, add up the length of all four sides of your quilt and divide that by the length of your strip. Then round up to a whole number.

For example:

If your quilt is 30" x 40" and you cut strips that are the width of the fabric (typically 42"), you would add 30"+30"+40"+40" to get 140". Then divide 140" by 42" to get 3.33333 which rounds up to 4 strips.

Algebra lovers use: (2W+2L)/42

Step 2 - With the right sides together, place the ends of two strips perpendicular to each other. Stitch the diagonal as shown as a black dashed line in the diagram to the right, being careful not to stitch the other diagonal shown in red. Trim the seam to 1/4" as shown as a black cutting line and press the seam open. In the same manner, add another strip to one of the previous two strips until the length of the connected strips is the length of the perimeter of the quilt plus a few inches.


Step 3 - In small sections at a time, with the wrong sides together, fold the connected strips in half lengthwise matching the raw edges and press. These connected and pressed strips are known as binding (a noun).

Step 4 - Open the fold at the start of the binding and with wrong sides together, fold the strip upwards so it is perpendicular to itself creating a 45 degree diagonal fold, press. Refold the lengthwise fold keeping the diagonal fold in place and press again.


Step 5 - On the back of the quilt, roughly find the center of one side. Starting at this spot on the quilt and with the diagonally folded end of the binding, pin the binding so that the long raw edge of the binding matches the raw edge of the quilt. The folded edge of the binding will lay towards the center of the quilt.


Step 6 - Starting 8-10" away from the diagonal fold of the binding, using a 1/4" seam allowance and heading away from the start of the binding, stitch through all the layers of the quilt and binding as shown in the diagram below as a dashed line. Stop stitching 1/4" away from the quilt corner and backstitch (marking the 1/4" makes it easier, I use this pen). Remove the quilt from the machine and trim the threads.

Step 7 - Fold the binding upwards creating a 45 degree fold, pin the fold. Then fold the binding straight down so the new fold is straight with the raw edges of quilt edge, pin. Starting at the corner with the folded binding, stitch through all the layers of the quilt and binding along the new edge of the quilt until 1/4" away from the next corner then backstitch. Remove the quilt from the machine and trim the threads. Repeat step 7 until stitching again on the starting edge of the quilt.

Step 8 - Stop stitching 8-10" away from the starting diagonal fold of the binding and back stitch. Remove the quilt from the machine and trim the threads.


Step 9 - Unfold the end of the binding and lay it flat along the quilt edge. Unfold the lengthwise fold of the start of the binding and lay it flat along the quilt edge. Tuck the end of the binding under the starting edge of binding. Trace the diagonal fold of the start of the binding onto the end of the binding.

Step 10 - With right sides together, match the traced line on the end of the binding with the diagonal fold on the start of the binding. Pin in place and stitch along the open fold. Trim the seam to 1/4 inch and press the seam open. Fold the lengthwise fold into place again, press. Pin the binding to the raw edge of the quilt and finish stitching the binding to the quilt top.

Step 11 - Starting about 10" from a corner of the quilt, flip the long fold of the binding to the front side of the quilt and pin or use clips to secure it in place. Start stitching on the binding about 1 mm away from the long fold of the binding. Continue clipping and stitching in sections. When about 2" away from the corner, flip the binding to the front on both sides of the corner and pin or clip it in place so that the binding tucks under itself creating a neat miter. Stitch with the needle down into the mitered corner then lift the presser foot, rotate the quilt, then stitch the next side.


Hand stitched variation - In step 5, machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt. In step 11, flip the binding the the back side of the quilt and hand stitch it down, concealing the machine stitching done in step 5.


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading Quilting Basics! Find more Binding Hacks here. Happy Quilting!



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Hi! I'm Jen, a quilt pattern designer and teacher. I founded Snapdragon Quilting in the spring of 2022 in memory of my beloved Grandma Louise, a skilled seamstress and crafter who grew beautiful snapdragons in her garden. I've been sewing for as long as I can remember and began passionately crafting quilts of my own creation in 2006. My quilt patterns bring bold and vibrant designs that blend traditional piecing methods with contemporary techniques. I love to play with color and contrast so you'll find lots of layout and color options in my patterns. Whether you're new to quilting or making your 100th quilt, you're in the right place, because here at Snapdragon Quilting, quilt patterns make sense. 

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