Learn how to finish a quilt without binding
Most people have a favorite part of making their quilts. For some of us quilters it's choosing or designing the pattern. Others love to pick out the fabric. My favorite part is piecing the quilt and watching the beauty of it come together.
After all of the planning, cutting and piecing, the final step is to birth the quilt. Although that term's not used much anymore, the idea of birthing a quilt seems quite appropriate to me.
In order to birth your quilt, you will need to do the final step, which is the technique of finishing your quilt.
So much time and effort and love goes into each quilt I make, and finishing a quilt is both exhilarating and sweet.
There are several quilt finishing techniques that you can use to do this. The most popular is sewing on a binding.
With this technique, a separate piece of narrow fabric is sewn on and around the entire piece to finish the quilt.
If you want to learn how to sew a binding on your quilt, we have a wonderful tutorial on finishing a quilt with binding. Check out our page with complete instructions on this no hand-sewing binding!
However, for some items, this can be an extra-long and inefficient process. There is an easier way!
This alternative method to finish your quilt is the pillow case technique, also known as the envelope finish. This no binding finish is perfect for small items such as baby quilts, wall hangings, placemats, or mug rugs.
To learn the pillow case method of quilt finishing without using binding, watch our video below or keep reading for written directions.
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what is a pillowcase quilt finish?
Finishing a quilt can be done in many ways. Some people love to sit and enjoy the methodic quilt finishing method of binding their quilts.
Although this can be a soothing activity, for some quilt projects finishing a quilt without binding is the best way to go.
In order to have a no binding finish on your quilt projects, you will need to have your pieced top, quilt batting, and a quilt backing.
The pillowcase quilt finishing technique involves sewing the quilt top and quilt backing with right sides together. This is the complete opposite of a quilt finished with binding.
In order to finish a quilt without binding, the layering of the top, batting, and backing fabric are not laid out as the quilt will look once finished.
Instead, the fabrics are cut to match in size, and then the quilt is sewn around the edge, leaving a small space open to turn the quilt right side out.
Once the quilt is in its proper state to be finished, the small open space for turning is hand sewn closed or closed using edge stitching.
Instructions on How to finish a quilt without binding using the pillowcase method
what you need to finish a quilt without binding
- Completed quilt top
- Fabric for quilt backing
- Sewing machine
- Walking foot for machine (if available)
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Square quilt ruler
- Straight edge ruler
- iron and ironing board
Step 1: square up your quiilt top
You will need to first square up your quilt top. in order to do thisAlign the bottom edge of the quilt top with a line on the cutting mat. Line the edge of the cutting ruler with a vertical line on the mat close to the side of your quilt top.
Cut the extra fabric off. Do the same on the other side of your quilt top.
You will then use a horizontal line on your mat at the top of your quilt top to cut the remaining small piece of fabric in order to make your quilt top even with right corners.
step 2: Layer and square up the batting and backing
Lay your batting on a smooth surface and smooth it out, making sure there are no wrinkles in the batting.
Lay your fabric for the quilt backing, right side up, on top of the batting. Smooth until both the batting and backing fabric are laying nicely together with no wrinkles.
Using the method of squaring up your quilt top in step 1, square up the layered pieces of the quilt backing (right side up) and the batting underneath simultaneously.
Be sure to cut these layers two inches larger than the quilt top on all sides.
NOTE:NOTE: Some people tell you to cut the backing fabric and batting the same size as the quilt top but I find if I do that when I am sewing the fabrics and batting together, they have a tendency to shift and pucker.
Next, pin these two layers together all the way around the outside to keep them in place.
step 3: Layering the quilt top before sewing
Center the quilt top upon the quilt backing and batting layers, right side down. The backing and the top should be right sides together.
You should now have the three fabrics of the quilt layered correctly.
Check to make sure the quilt top is the top layer, right side down. Directly under that should be your quilt backing (two inches larger than the top), right side up.
The bottom layer will be your batting, cut to the same size as the quilt backing fabric.
Making sure the quilt top is smooth and flat, pin every 6 to 8 inches around the quilt top securing all three layers together.
step 4: Sewing your quilt layers together
On the right edge of the quilt, begin stitching about 2/3 of the way down from the top, using a 3/8” seam allowance and using a walking foot if available.
Be sure to use a back stitch to tack the stitching securely when you begin, as this is where the quilt will be turned.
Continue stitching all around the quilt leaving a 10" to 20” opening on the right side which will be used to turn the quilt right side out.
Make sure the opening is big enough to be able to insert your hand and turn the quilt right side out.
step 5: trimming and turning your quilt
Once you have finished sewing the three layers together, using your rotary cutter and mat, trim the batting and backing fabric to the same size of the quilt top.
To reduce bulk and excess fabric, carefully trim away as much batting as you can from the seam allowance and trim the corners.
Once the bulk is trimmed away and you have trimmed the corners of the seam allowance, turn the quilt right side out through the opening.
Push out the four corners of your quilt and then use your iron to press the quilt flat. When you are pressing with your iron, make sure to press in the seam allowance of the opening used for turning.
Now your quilt is almost complete!
step 6: sewing the opening and quilting
The opening you left to turn your quilt must now be closes securely. You can either hand stitch the opening closed OR you can sew the opening closed by top stitching around the entire quilt 1/4" from the edge.
Top stitching makes a very neat finish for your quilt. This is the way I prefer to close the openings used for turning.
Finally tie or quilt by hand or by using your machine.
Now your quilt has been finished using the pillow case method!
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
Other Binding tutorials you may be interested in are below.
Learn how to machine bind a pot holder with this tutorial.
Traditional Quilt Binding - How to finish the edges of a quilt, wall hanging, table runner, placemat, and any quilt projects.
Another backing option is to create a Scrappy Quilt Backing Fabric as demonstrated in this tutorial.