How many times have you read the words, “Bind and quilt as desired” at the end of a pattern? If you are an experienced quilter, these words are routine. If you are a new quilter, not so much. I wanted to provide a tutorial for new quilters who would like to learn how to apply binding, a place to direct them to for further explanation when they complete one of my patterns. So, without further ado...binding your quilt...
Tools of the Trade
Having the correct tools makes the job of binding your quilt easier (and more pleasant!). After years of quilting and much experimentation, these are the tools I have settled on and use for every quilt I bind.
In the photo, starting in the top left corner and going clockwise:
A ruler or straight edge to draw a diagonal line across the binding before sewing strips together and when attaching the binding ends. In the photo I have The Wedge Ruler from Eleanor Burns. I really like using this ruler for binding because you can use the angles to line up a perfect diagonal line (more below on that).
A marking pencil or chalk to mark diagonal lines across the binding before sewing. The one in the photo is by Clover and is called a Chaco Liner Pen. It has a roller on the tip and contains chalk that can be refilled. They are available in several colors.
Straight pins to hold the strips together when joining them and for sewing the binding corners.
A walking foot for your machine. You will need to use a walking foot to sew through the layers of a quilt when applying binding or the layers will not feed properly.
The next item is called the Sasher and its from Pauline’s Quilter’s World. It allows you to quickly and easily fold bias or straight grain fabric strips in half as you iron them. I love this little tool for making binding! Because I cut my bindings 2 ¼” wide, I use the 1 1/8” sasher (more on the sasher later).
A ¼” seam guide to mark a ¼” seam allowance when mitering the binding corners.
See my bog post Quilting Product Reviews - A Few of My Favorite Things for reviews on my favorite quilting tools.
Cutting Binding Strips
After you have quilted your quilt and trimmed and squared it up, add the measurements of each side, plus 10 inches. This will tell you how many binding strips to cut. As an example, if my quilt is 60 inches by 70 inches, I would add 60 + 60 + 70 + 70 + 10 = 270 (or, 120 + 140 + 10 = 270). If your fabric is the standard 44 inches wide (22 inches without the selvage), you would then divide 270 by 42 to get the number of width-of-fabric strips you need (270 ÷ 42 = 6.4). You would round up to 7 strips. (Please note, these are the measuring instructions for straight grain binding, as that is my preference.)
Cut your binding strips according to your preferred width. The most common widths are 2 ¼ and 2 ½ inches. I prefer cutting my strips 2 ¼ inches wide, which gives you about ¼ inch binding on the front and back of the quilt when finished. (If cutting your strips 2 ¼ inches, you would use a 1 1/8 inch sasher. If cutting your strips 2 ½ inch wide, you would use the 1 ¼ inch sasher.)
Joining Your Strips
Attach your binding strips end to end by placing two strips, right sides together, perpendicular to each other. Draw a diagonal line across them and pin the corners as shown below:
Sew along the drawn line and trim ¼ inch from the seam. Press open. Continue this process until all your strips have been sewn together into one long strip.
Iron your binding strips in half, wrong sides together. The photo below shows the sasher inserted through the binding:
Attaching the Binding
Before I attach the binding, I lay it out, all the way around the quilt, mitering the corners, so I can tell exactly where the joining seams will lay. I don’t want them to lay on a corner as the excess fabric will interfere with my miter folds.
Take your quilt to the machine to begin sewing. Be sure to attach your walking foot! Place the machine foot so you have a "tail" of binding above your walking foot, around 10 inches is enough. You will sew the binding on with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Some walking feet have a built in ¼ inch mark. If yours doesn't, use your usual ¼ inch seam guide.
As you get close to the corner, stop sewing and use your ¼ inch seam gauge and chalk marker to mark ¼ inch from the edge of the quilt. You will sew up to this line.
Sew up to the marked line.
When you reach the marked line, stop sewing and take several backward stiches to lock in the corner. Stop sewing and cut the thread.
Mitering the Corner
Fold the binding up, creasing at the diagonal fold line.
Then fold the binding straight down, allowing the fold to rest slightly above the edge of the quilt. Pin in place.
Put the quilt back under your sewing machine and line up the ¼ inch seam. Place a scrap piece of fabric under your needle so you will sew onto the scrap, then directly onto the quilt corner. This will ensure the corner gets fully secured to the edge.
Continue sewing around the quilt, mitering each corner as you go, until you are back to the side where you began. Stop sewing about 10 inches from where you began.
Join the Binding
Lay the left side out along the quilt edge and smooth it out. Don't pull it too tight, just lay it smoothly. Fold up the left binding at a 90 degree angle as shown:
Now lay the right side binding smoothly along the edge of the quilt, directly over the left side and fold it up beside the left binding. (The right binding will be lying to the left of the left binding).
Mark a line across both strips even with the horizontal binding.
Cut along the marked lines.
Pull the left side straight down. Place the right binding strip on the left binding strip (right sides together) at a 90-degree angle. Draw a diagonal line across the binding ends as shown. Pin in place and sew along the drawn line. Trim ¼ inch from the seam. Press the seam to one side. Close the binding and press again.
Take your quilt back to the sewing machine and align your ¼ inch seam. Sew the binding to the quilt to close the opening.
Press your quilt binding open around the entire quilt. It is now ready to be brought to the back and sewn down. I like to do this by hand while I'm watching TV or a video.
I hope you have found this tutorial on binding your quilt helpful. After a few quilts, this process becomes second nature!