Let’s talk about binding. It’s the last thing, along with the label, that you will do to finish the quilt. You want that binding to compliment the quilt, not detract from it. Think of the binding as the final “frame”. In this post, I will talk about how to choose the color for your binding, what type of binding to use and how you make that binding. Finally, I’ll talk about attaching it to the quilt. I also have a brand new tutorial that I did describing how to make binding and how to attach it to your quilt. Let’s get started!
Binding Color – How to Choose
How do I choose my binding color? It depends on whether I want it to stand out or to fade into the background. Some quilters use binding for an additional frame for their design and want it to stand out. Here’s an example of that:
I used a dark color binding on this quilt because I liked how it frames the whole quilt like a picture. On this next quilt, I wanted to keep the binding the same color as the background because I wanted the quilt and the applique to be the star.
I think if I had used a contrasting binding, it would have competed with the quilt and might have detracted from the applique and design. Sometimes I add a little “pizzazz” to matching binding by choosing a fabric with a bit more larger print than the background. However, on this quilt I chose to use the same fabric as the background fabric to have it completely disappear.
Finally, you can also have a bit of fun by using scrappy binding. Save leftover scraps of all the color prints you are using in the quilt top and cut binding strips from an assortment.
This is a playful option I like to use on scrap quilts, especially fun table runners or wall hangings.
Single-fold or Double-fold?
You next decision is single-fold or double-fold binding. Also, whether you will cut the strips on the bias or straight. I use straight strips on square and rectangular quilt tops and bias strips if my quilt top has scallops or curved edges. You can use bias binding on all your quilt tops if you want, just remember that fabric cut on the bias has more stretch, which is good for curved edges but might not be the best for straight sides.
Single-fold Binding: Single-fold binding is single strips of fabric, usually joined by a bias seam, stitched to the front of the quilt top and then turned to the back and stitched down to “close” the quilt sandwich. I use 1 1/2″ strips. I like to use this type of binding on wall hangings, table runners and other small projects. It’s less bulky for small projects.
Double-fold Binding: My double-fold binding is made from 2 1/4 or 2 1/2″ strips, seamed together on the bias and then pressed in half lengthwise for a double thickness. I like to use this type of bindings on lap size or larger quilts. Mostly because those quilts tend to get handled more and I think double-fold binding is more durable.
Bonus Tip: When I am working with a long strip of binding for a big quilt, I like to keep it under control by winding it around a left-over toilet paper roll and securing it with a large pin or secured with a large binder clip. Then as I am pinning and stitching the binding to the quilt top, I just unwind the amount I need as I go and the rest does not end up as a tangled mess!
Binding the Quilt Top
Step #1: Now it’s time to prepare the freshly quilted quilt for binding. Here’s a few optional tips on achieving a nice, full binding:
Tip #1: When you are cutting away the excess backing and batting from the quilted project, leave a scant 1/8″. Once I do that, I then pin the binding to the top of the quilt using the quilt top edge as my guide.
Tip #2: Having your double-fold binding strips cut at 2 1/4 or 2 1/8″ wide, instead of 2 1/2″ wide, helps to make it fuller. 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.
Step #2: Time to pin the binding to the quilt top. Start pinning on a straight edge at least 6″ from a corner. Pin one side at a time for stitching. Once you get to the corner on the first side you have pinned, measure 1/4″ up from the edge of the quilt top and pin the binding there. This is a step you need to do before you turn the corner with your binding and continue onto the next side.
Once you are done pinning one side, it’s time to go to the sewing machine. If you are using double-fold binding, don’t start stitching right at the top of the binding. You want to leave a little “pocket” to slip in the end of the binding once you are done.
Below is a link to my tutorial video that walks you though all the steps I talked about above including joining the strips to make the binding. It’s a bit longer than some of my other tutorials because binding has lots of steps. But, I think it’s very helpful!
The final step in binding the quilt top is stitching it to the back. I turn the binding to the back and secure it with hairclips I stole from my daughter once she quit using them.
And how about that mitered corner? Here’s a few photos on stitching that corner. When I get to the corner, I pin the two sides of the binding 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!
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope what I shared on binding was helpful. Please ask questions in the comments if you have any. Leave a comment and you will be in a drawing for this nice set of binding clips, so you don’t have to scavenge for hair clips around the house!
The drawing will be on Monday, March 15th. ***We have a winner! Congrats, Norma J!***
Happy quilting & binding!
I love the binding clips, and use them all the time.
Norma J says
I love binding clips, and use them all the time. But, When making a large quilt, I always need more than I have. Would love more clips.
This was a great binding lesson. I appreciated the tip for getting a fuller binding. I find that I often need just a bit more stuffing in my binding. I’ll try cutting my backing and binding just a bit larger next time. Thanks.
Mary Chevalier says
Thanks for the video .My quilt is ready for the binding ,just have to cut the excess of batting and backing.Will give your 1/8 inch a try.
Debra Forsberg says
Best advice is the extra 1/8″ when trimming. It fills out the binding so beautifully! Thank you!
But you are only catching 1/8” of the quilt top/backing in your binding seam allowance. I’d think this weakens this seam. This makes zero sense to me. Especially if your quilt has star blocks without a border.
No. It’s an extra 1/8 of the batting/backing beyond the 1/4″ allowed on the quilt top for seam allowance. You will still use a 1/4″ seam when attaching the binding to the quilt top. The extra 1/8″ of batting/backing makes the binding fuller.
Plus if you have pieced your top correctly, like if you have star blocks at the edge, the point will be 1/4″ away from the edge of the quilt.
Karyn Meyreles says
Great tips. Would love the clips!