So I’m done with the quilt top and have had it quilted. Now it’s time to finish it up with the binding. At this point, I can’t wait to be done with the quilt so binding it seems like a bore and a chore. But, it’s another chance to enhance your quilt. I want to share some of my binding tips here so you don’t think of binding as a chore anymore. Let’s get started!
Tips for Planning Ahead
Tip #1: Binding Color. If you plan for your binding when you are planning and cutting out the quilt project, you will be ahead of the game. At this time you can decide if you want your binding to fade into the background, by matching it with your outer border fabric like my quilt below:
You don’t notice the binding there because it’s made from black fabric like the outer border. This means it doesn’t take any attention from the quilt design. Here’s another of my quilts where I used binding that contrasted with the outer border, creating a frame for the appliqué:
This is the binding color contrast I like to use when I want to draw attention to an appliquéd border area.
Or you can use scraps from your quilt project and make a scrappy binding. It serves the dual purpose of making a pretty finish to the quilt and using up the extra fabric.
Tip #2: What Type of Binding. Once you decided on the color you want to use, you need to decide on whether you want single-fold or double-fold binding. Single-fold binding consists of only a one layer of fabric pieced from strips, whether scrappy or not. The binding is laid face down on the front of the quilt top, lined up with the raw edges, machine stitched and then turned to the back to hand stitch in place.
Double-fold binding is a wider strip, usually 2 1/4 to 2 1/2″ wide, that is folded over in half and pressed before attaching it to the front of the quilt. When it is turned to the back to be stitched, there are two layers of fabric on the edge of the quilt. Obviously, double-fold binding is more durable. Here are the different bindings:
The photo on the left shows single-fold binding. you lay in on the quilt top wrong side up lined up with the quilt top edge. The other two photos show double-fold binding, the center photo shows it before it’s folded over and attached to the quilt top. For this binding, you line up the raw edges with the edge of the quilt top and stitch.
Typically, I will use single-fold binding on quilts that won’t get much use, like a wall hanging. A lap or bed quilt will get double-fold binding to account for wear and tear from usage.
Tip #3: How Much Fabric is Needed? So you’ve decided which binding type you want. How do you know how much fabric to buy? There’s an easy formula I use to figure how many strips I need to cut for my quilt top. This allows me to then figure out how much fabric I need. Here are the formula steps:
- First I figure the perimeter of the quilt by adding up the length of all the sides. For example for a quilt that is 60 x 72″ here is the calculation: 60 + 60 + 72 + 72 = 264
- I add 2″ to that measurement to account for the length of the binding used when turning the corners (I figure in 1/2″ per corner): 264 + 2 = 266
- Then I divide that measurement by the width of fabric to determine how many strips are needed. I use 40″ for my usable width: 266/40 = 6.65. Round up to the next whole number, so I need 7 strips for this quilt’s binding.
- Now I multiply the strip amount by the size of the strips needed. If I am making double-fold binding and use 2 1/4″ strips, here’s my formula: 7 x 2 1/4″ = 15 3/4″. I round up to the nearest common cut of fabric, so I will need 1/2 yard to make the binding for this quilt. If I was only doing single-fold binding, I use 1 1/2″ strips so: 7 x 1 1/2″ = 10 1/2, rounding up, I would use 1/3 yard of fabric here.
Tip #4: Storage. So, you have your binding made. How do you store it so it doesn’t become a jumbled mess before you are done with the quilt? I like to wrap mine around an empty toilet paper tube or I fold it and secure it with a large binder clip.
You can then store this in the art bin or box that you have the pieces for the quilt stored. Now you won’t have to search for binding when it’s time to attach it.
Tips for Binding the Quilt Top
Tip #1: Prepare the Quilted Item. I recommend cutting away the excess batting and backing from the quilted quilt. Leave a scant 1/8″ (photos below) of the batting and backing. Since the binding is pinned to the top of the quilt using the quilt top edge as a guide, there will be batting and backing that extends out. I do this so when the binding is turned to the back, that scant 1/8″ serves to “stuff” the binding.
Also, to achieve a full binding, I like to cut my binding strips for double-fold binding 2 1/4″ instead of 2 1/2″. If your binding is too wide when you fold it over to the back it will be empty at the top of the fold and that can make binding look flat.
Tip #2: Tip for Attaching the Binding. I like to start pinning on a straight edge at least 6″ from a corner. (left photo, below) I pin one side at a time for stitching. When I reach the corner while pinning, I measure 1/4″ up from the edge of the quilt top and pin the binding there. So when stitching this side, I know when I’m 1/4″ from the edge when I get to the pin. (right photo, below) This makes it easier to fold and turn the binding to start attaching it to the other side. It also helps to achieve a nice mitered corner when the binding is turned.
Tip #3: Binding Stitching. For double-fold binding, when stitching the first side, I start stitching about 1/2″ to 1″ from the beginning. (see photo below) This leaves a little “pocket” so I can tuck in the end of the binding when I get all the way around the quilt. Like I said above, I stop at the pin that marks 1/4″ from the edge to help make a nice mitered corner as I turn the binding to continue onto the next side. For single-fold binding, you can start stitching right at the beginning of the binding since you will not need to tuck the end.
Tip #4: Hand Stitching to the Back. I secure the binding in place with hair clips! I found that these worked great and we had a ton of them that my daughter abandoned at home when she went off to college. Great re-cycling tip here!
Here’s how I make the mitered corners when turning my binding. (photos below) When I get to the corner, I match up and pin where the two sides of the binding meet as shown in the first photo. Then I stitch up to that corner catching both folded edges. I then stitch up the diagonal “fold” created. As you can see in the last photo, it makes a perfect mitered corner on the front.
So, those are my tips for successful binding. If you follow them, I think you will find it easier to bind your quilt and you will be done in no time! Here’s my mini video tutorial on binding for some guidance if you are new to quilting.
That’s it for this week. Leave a comment or share some of your tips and you will be entered into a drawing for my newest pattern, Cabin Garden!
The drawing will be on Monday, October 16th. Good Luck! **We have a winner! Congrats, Dede!**