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.
In order to birth a quilt, it is necessary to do the final step, which is the technique of finishing the 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 can be used to do this. Check out this page for several quilt finishing techniques. 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, take a look at a wonderful tutorial on finishing a quilt with binding. Check out the page with complete instructions on this no hand-sewing binding!
However, for some items, sewing on a binding can be an extra-long and inefficient process. There is an easier way!
This alternative method to finish a 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 quilt projects, begin with the 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 quilters ruler
- iron and ironing board
Step 1: square up your quiilt top
It is important to first square up the quilt top. You may wonder what it is to "square up" a quilt.
It means that all of the corners are cut at a square angle, and all of the edges are cut straight. It is very important so the quilt doesn't look crooked when finished.
In order to square up the quilt top for the pillowcase finishing method, lay out the quilt top over your cutting mat, making sure it is very flat and smooth.
Place a square ruler on one corner and line it up. Make sure that there is fabric on the entire 90 degree angle under the square ruler.
Using a rotary cutter, cut both edges of the corner where the square ruler has been placed.
Next, it is important to cut the horizontal edges straight. Switch to the straight edge quilters ruler, overlapping part of the line that has already been cut, and make a new cut along the edge of the straight edge ruler.
Stop cutting short of the end of the next quilt top corner. Use the square ruler again in the same way that was done on the first corner. Go all the way around the quilt top until coming to the original corner where the cutting began.
For a complete tutorial on squaring up a quilt, check out this tutorial by Hailey Stitches.
Now you have a squared quilt top!
step 2: Layer and square up the batting and backing
Lay the batting on a smooth surface and smooth it out, making sure there are no wrinkles in the batting.
Lay the 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 the quilt top in step 1, use a rotary cutter, straight edge quilters ruler, square ruler and mat to 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: Some believe that the backing fabric and batting should be cut to the same size as the quilt top. However, I find that the three layers will not shift or pucker when sewing them together when the quilt top is smaller.
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 the quilt backing (two inches larger than the top), right side up. The bottom layer will be the batting.
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 the 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 beginning to sew, as this is where the quilt will be turned.
Continue stitching all around the quilt leaving an opening on the right side which will be used to turn the quilt right side out. As when starting to sew the layers, be sure to back stitch to secure the stitching.
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 the quilt
Once the three layers have been sewn together, using a rotary cutter, straight edge quilters ruler 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 possible from the seam allowance and trim the corners.
Once the bulk is trimmed away, and the corners of the seam allowance have been trimmed, turn the quilt right side out through the opening.
Push out the four corners of the quilt and then use an iron to press the quilt flat. When pressing with the 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 that was left to turn the quilt must now be closed securely. The opening can either be hand stitched close or you can sew the opening closed by edge stitching around the entire quilt 1/4" from the edge.
Edge stitching makes a very neat finish for a quilt. This is the way I prefer to close the openings used for turning.
If you need a lesson on edge stitching, this is a great video tutorial.
In order to keep the layers together, tie or quilt by hand or using the sewing machine.
Now your quilt has been finished using the pillow case method!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial showing how to finish a quilt 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.