I have a confession. Binding the quilt is one of my least favorite tasks in quilting. I think it’s because I am so excited that my quilt is done and I want to get binding out of the way as fast as possible. Besides the label, binding is the final touch to your quilt. It actually is something that shouldn’t be an afterthought since is acts as a frame for your creation. I am going to cover my favorite binding tips and share my binding tutorial video. I also have some tips for figuring how much binding you need. Let’s get started!
Tip#1 – What Kind of Binding?
The first thing I do when I am ready to bind the quilt top is to decide which type of binding I want: single-fold or double-fold.
Single-fold binding is a binding that is only a one layer of fabric pieced from strips. The binding 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 (photo below).
Double-fold binding is made from wider cut strips that are pieced together and pressed in half 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.
Tip#2 – Choose the Color
The color is an important consideration too. Do you want the binding to “disappear” or do you want it to act as a frame for the quilt? Sometimes if I have a busy border, especially one with appliqué, I like to match the binding color to the fabric in the border so the viewer’s eye is drawn to my appliqué. Here’s an example:
The background fabric of the border on the above quilt is black so I made the binding black to make it appear invisible. However, on this other appliqué quilt below, I used a darker binding to create a frame for the quilt:
On a quilt that has no appliqué and just has a pieced or plain border, I usually like to choose a color that compliments the blocks in the quilt and acts as a frame. For this quilt below, I chose a dark blue binding as a final “frame”.
I have also matched the binding to the background fabric of the pieced border so the border stands out (photo below).
Tip#3 – How to Figure Amount of Binding Needed
Instead of guessing how much fabric you need for binding, here is the formula I use to figure out how many strips I need to cut to make it the right length. You can use this formula for both single-fold and double-fold binding. I like to assume 40″ width of fabric for my formula to account for the varying widths of fabrics. If your fabric width is wider, you can adjust the formula or you will just have some binding left over.
- 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
- 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 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. I always round up, so I need 7 strips for this quilt’s binding.
- Multiply the strip amount by the size of the strips needed. If I am making double-fold binding, I use 2 1/4″ strips so: 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 – Preparing the Quilt for Binding
Cut away the excess batting and backing from the quilted quilt. However when you are cutting away the excess backing and batting from the quilted project, leave a scant 1/8″ (photos below). Since the binding is pinned to the top of the quilt using the quilt top edge as a guide, when the binding is turned to the back that scant 1/8″ serves to “stuff” the binding. Achieving a full binding is another reason why I 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 #5 – Attaching the Binding
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.
When stitching this side, start stitching and stop at the pin that marks 1/4″ from the edge. Doing this helps when making the mitered corner as you turn the binding to continue onto the next side. 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.
The photo above shows I started stitching about 1/2″ below the binding opening.
In the video tutorial below, I demonstrate stitching the first side to the 1/4″ mark and then how to turn the corner with the binding to start stitching the second side. It’s easier to watch me do it than for me to try to explain it in writing. That demo starts at about the 14 minute mark of the video.
Final Tip – Hand Stitching the Binding to the Back
I turn the binding to the back and secure it with hair clips I stole from my daughter once she quit using them. Addie likes to watch this step…
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!
Since it’s a little hard to describe how to make binding, especially double-fold, and attach it, I made this video tutorial on this very subject. Hopefully viewing this video will help you learn to make double-fold binding or give you a refresher!
That’s it for this week! I hope these tips I shared on binding make it less of a chore and more a step you look forward to. Leave a comment or ask questions in the comments below and you will be entered into a drawing for my new pattern, Sunset Sky.
The drawing will be on Monday, April 25th. Good luck! **We have a winner! Congrats, Kailah Eglington!**