This tutorial shows how to finish the edges of a quilt, wall hanging, table runner, placemat, and other quilt projects using a traditional binding method.
HOW TO BIND A QUILT
What is a quilt binding?
The final step in finishing a quilt project is binding the raw edges. There are various methods of attaching the binding to the outside raw edges of a quilt project so the finished product has a nice, professional appearance.
Sewing binding to a quilt is a three-step process. The first step is to sew the binding to the edge of the quilt. The second step is to fold the binding over around the edge of the quilt. And the third step is to tack it down by hand or machine.
The traditional method consists of machine stitching the binding to the front of the quilt and hand sewing the folded binding to the back. However, early settlers and pioneers who didn't have the luxury of a sewing machine use to hand sew the binding to the front and back.
There are numerous quilt binding methods - double-fold binding, single fold binding, pillowcase method, self-binding method, flange quilt binding, and prairie points.
Learn how to make various types of binding, various ways to bind a quilt, and numerous quilt edgings by checking out our How to Sew Binding on a Quilt Page.
Today, I will show a method used for generations (used by my mother, grandmother and great grandmother). The traditional method involves sewing the binding to the front of the quilt project with a sewing machine and hand sew the binding to the back.
Follow along with this article and video to learn how to sew the binding on a quilt or project using the traditional binding method.
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HOW TO ATTACHING BINDING TO A QUILT PROJECT
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Rotary Cutter and Mat
- Sewing Machine
- Binding Clips
- Needle and Thread
- Basic Sewing Supplies
Instructions to double-fold bind a quilt or quilt project.
How much double-fold binding is needed? The length of the double fold binding strip should go all the way around the quilt project plus an extra 12 to 20 inches.
Use our binding calculator to figure out the number of strips to cut for creating the binding for this quilt.
HOW TO CALCULATE THE LENGTH OF BINDING NEEDED?
1. Measure the width.
2. Measure the length.
3. Add the width measure and length measurement together.
4. Times this figure by 2.
5. Add an extra 12 to 20 inches.
For smaller projects, 12 inches is enough. For larger projects, add 20 inches.
Our video tutorial on how to make double fold binding (also known a French fold binding) will explain everything you need to know to make the binding.
sew the binding to the quilt
After making the double-fold binding, take a few moments to quickly run the binding along the perimeter of the quilt or project to make sure you don't end up with a binding seam in the quilt corner.
I recommend starting the binding on either the side or bottom of the project, not the top.
With the right side of the quilt facing up, line up the raw edges of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt at least 6 to 12 inches from the corner leaving a 6 - 20 inches tail. For larger quilts, it can even begin farther away from the corner.
The folded edge of the binding should be facing toward the center of the quilt.
Start sewing the binding along the edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. Don't forget to backstitch.
The corners of the quilt binding will be mitered.
What are mitered corners?
A mitered corner is one in which the corners meet at a 45-degree angle. A mitered corner gives the quilt project a professional and polished finish.
Following is a written photo tutorial on how to miter quilt corners; however, we also have a video tutorial on how to sew mitered corners.
As you approach the corner, stop stitching 1/4 inch from the corner with the needle in the down position. With the needle down, raise the presser foot, rotate the fabric, and sew diagonally to the corner, backstitch to make sure it is secure. The corner should look like this:
Remove the quilt from the sewing machine and fold the working end of the binding away from itself forming a 45-degree angle.
Next, fold the working end of the binding strip back on itself, making sure the fold is evenly aligned with the quilt edge. Pin the layers together to hold them in place.
Start sewing the next side from the very edge of the quilt, backstitching at the start until you reach the next corner. Continue sewing binding and making mitered corners around the project.
JOINING ENDS OF BINDING
Continue sewing until you are back to where you started the binding. However, and this is very important, leave at least an 8 to 10-inch gap between where you began and where you ended. Don't forget to backstitch.
There are multiple ways to join the binding ends. This way is one of the simplest.
At the ironing board, fold the two ends of the binding strips back on themselves so they meet in the middle of the unsewn gap. Press these folded ends with an iron to make a crease.
Open up the binding. Put the ends right side together matching the creases, pin and sew together on the pressed crease.
Before trimming and sewing this portion of the binding to the quilt project, be sure that the length of binding just stitched together is the correct length to fill in the unstitched gap. If it is, trim with a 1/4" seam allowance and finger press the seam open. If not, redo.
Fold the binding in half and attach this section of binding to the quilt.
fold binding to the back of the quilt
Press and fold the binding to the back of the quilt so it covers the machine stitching line. At the corners, fold the fabric on a diagonal to make a neat mitered corner.
As the binding is folded to the back either pin or clip the edges to hold them secure. I personally love using sewing clips. It really makes this process quick and easy.
hand stitch binding on back
Now it is hand stitching time. Don't be scared! This is faster and easier than you think.
The traditional method is to hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Just as there are numerous ways to attach binding to a quilt, there are numerous methods to stitch the back of binding to a quilt. To hand stitch the binding to the back of a project, I stitch with the invisible stitch known as the ladder stitch.
Thread the needle with thread, with either a single or double thread, that matches the binding, not the backing. I like to use a double-threaded needle for extra strength and durability. Many quilters prefer a single-threaded needle. You choose.
After the needle is threaded, hide your knot under the binding close to the fold. How? You want to insert your needle on the underside of the loose edge of binding, and have the needle come out on the fold.
For the first stitch insert the needle in the backing straight across from where the needle came out of the binding. The straighter you are the less visible your stitch will be.
Travel the needle through the backing and batting (don't come out the front) next to the stitching line about 1/4 inch and guide the needle out of the back of the quilt. Pull the needle and thread all the way through.
For the second stitch, directly across from where the needle came out of the backing, insert the needle into the very edge of the folded edge of the binding and tunnel the needle through the fold (between the two layers) for 1/4 inch. Exit the needle out the folded edge. Pull the needle and thread all the way through and snug down the binding.
Repeat these two steps along the side of the quilt until you get to the corner.
When you reach the corner, fold the fabric on the diagonal so you have a neat mitered corner. Insert your needle through both layers of the bottom corner fold of the binding. Take a few extra stitches to hold it secure. Continue the ladder stitch catching down the mitered corner as well.
Continue on along the next side and around the entire perimeter of the project.
That's it! I hope you found this tutorial helpful.
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LEARN TO QUILT SERIES
more quilt binding methods
Quick Quilt Binding - This binding method required no hand sewing.
Pillowcase Binding Method - How to finish a quilt project without using binding strips.
The self-binding method is good for smaller projects like mug rugs, wall hangings and table runners. It can be used for small quilts.
How to Rebind an Old Quilt - Learn how to repair quilt binding by replacing it!