Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Binding Hints!

Binding Tips! 

(Click here for printer-friendly .pdf file!)

Double-Fold Binding:
Carefully remove basting threads or safety pins. Baste around quilt 3/16" from the edges if desired. Trim batt and lining even with the top. It is really important that the corners of your quilt be square at 90 degree angles.

Cut binding strips 2 1/2" wide on lengthwise or crosswise grain of fabric. Place end of two strips perpendicular to each other forming an 'L', right sides together. Stitch diagonally as shown below. Join all strips end to end continuously by bringing up the free end of the previous strip just sewn, placing the next strip against it to form the 'L' again.

Trim excess to 1/4". I save these triangle scraps for other projects! Trim the "dog ears" and press the seam allowances open.

Fold the binding strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Fold the top edge of the binding over, aligning the top edge with the left side. Place a pin as shown. This pin is to mark 2.5" from the top of the strip. We will use this marking when making the last join on the binding.

This is my set up! I bring the ironing board to the left of my machine to support the extra weight of the quilt.

Lay the binding strip on the right side of the quilt top, aligning raw edges of the binding and the quilt. See the pin again? Start with the end of the binding where the pin is part way down one side of the quilt, with the beginning end (the pin end) of the binding about 12" from the corner. This will stop you from having a join right at the corner of the quilt that might interfere with your miter. I start stitching about 6" to 8" below the pin.

*note* I apply my binding with the walking foot on my bernina machine. I also use a seam guide that screws onto the throat plate of my machine, and push it right up against the side of the walking foot. This gives me an extra "fence" to help keep my seam allowance even as I am wrestling with putting binding on a big unwieldy quilt. My binding actually comes out at about 3/8" wide instead of 1/4" wide (because the walking foot is wider than my 1/4" foot) so I pivot at 3/8" at the corners instead of 1/4". Because my seam is 1/8" wider, I have a very nice full binding when I turn the binding to the back of the quilt to stitch down.

Stop sewing 1/4" from the first corner; backstitch. Remove the needle from the quilt and cut the threads. Fold the binding up, then back down even with edge of the quilt.

Begin stitching at the edge of next side, backstitch to secure and continue sewing. Repeat at all corners. Stop sewing about 6" to 8" from where the binding strip started on the first side. We are in the home stretch here, with one more join to go! Trim the excess binding straight across at the level of the pin. For an extra snug binding, trim it 1/8" above the pin. I find this helps to keep puckers and pleats from that last little bit. Experiment with it and see what you need to do for how your machine works for you.

Take both ends of the binding, and lay them together forming an "L" again just as when you were joining the strips before. Pin to match edges...the binding will want to twist out of alignment if you don't. Start stitching in one corner to the opposite corner, on the diagonal across the binding strips as shown.

Trim the excess 1/4" beyond the seam and fingerpress the seam open. Refold the binding in half and finish stitching the binding to the quilt!

Need A Hanging Sleeve?

The fastest way to eliminate a 1/2 yard from your stash is to attach a hanging sleeve to a bedsized quilt! *LOL* Attaching a hanging sleeve is easy. I've even used up "questionable" poly blend fabrics by using them as the hanging sleeve. I don't feel that they will damage the quilt at all, and it keeps the fabric from hitting the landfill before it serves a purpose. Measure the width of your quilt. Determine how many lengths of fabric cut from selvedge to selvedge you are going to need to equal this amount. In the case below, I needed to cut 2 strips to get the length I needed. I cut my strips 9" which will give me a 4.5" rod pocket.

Stitch the 9" lengths together end to end and press the seams open.

Subtract 4" from the width measurement of the quilt. Trim the sewn hanging sleeve strip to this length. Stitch a simple rolled hem on both ends, and press the sleeve in half with any raw edges to the inside of the sleeve.

Pin the sleeve to the back of the quilt, centering the sleeve and matching raw edges. Pin here and there to stabilize. Using the walking foot, stitch the sleeve into place. Your seam will be right on top of the seam you just stitched for the binding. When you stitch the binding down, the raw edges of the sleeve will be encased in the binding. To finish the sleeve, blind stitch the folded loose edge to the back of the quilt. That cow jumping over the moon fabric? I must have had a whole bolt of that, it shows up in lots of my projects, USUALLY on the back! The hanging sleeve fabric is a poly blend oxford cloth that was donated to me by a sweet little lady who knew I loved sewing with shirt fabrics. I just had to use it, even though it was a blend, so it has been the sleeve on many a quilt!

Turn the binding to back of the quilt and blindstitch to the lining,beginning about 6" away from a corner, covering the previous line of stitches. Fold the corners as shown and blindstitch. I work my stitches from right to left on the quilt back. Keep the needle parallel to the fold on the binding, and the stitching line on the back of the quilt. Take small stitches, directly across from where you exit the previous stitch. Pull thread. The thread travels inside the fold of the binding, and along the stitching line on the quilt back. When the thread is tightened the stitches should be virtually invisible. (Sorry the pics are blurry, it isn't easy to hold the quilt with one hand, and the camera with the other and shoot!)

Close up of blindstitch:

Mitering Corners:

Work stitches just beyond the binding seam line of the corner you are turning and take a couple tack stitches to anchor the thread. Bring needle back out at the seamline. Fold corner over as shown, and continue stitching the binding down the next side of the quilt until you reach where you started! Again, not the clearest pictures, and if I can get better ones, I'll update this page.

Other "Irregular" Bindings!

Wendy writes:

I love your web site and find it very useful. I have a question for you. I am binding a charm quilt which has a zig zag edge. I have the mitered corners down but since the quilt has a zig zag edge, I will have /\ corners and \/ corners, if you understand what I mean. Any hints on binding these? --Wendy

Sounds like you already know how to miter the "outside" corners, but need help with the inside ones! Inside corners are actually easier than the outside ones. There is less folding, and you don't even have to remove the quilt from the machine.

When you come to the inside corner, stop stitching right in the corner where the seam allowances (imagine them in your mind) would cross. Have the needle in the "down" position through the binding and the quilt, right at the junction of the imagined seam allowances and pivot the quilt top. Align the binding along the edge of the quilt again. When you begin sewing again, you are headed to the next outside corner. Continue around the quilt, stopping to miter your outside corners as usual, and pivoting to miter your inside corners all the way around the quilt.
Turn the binding to the back side of the quilt and hand stitch the binding down. When you come to an inside corner, pin the binding at the corner adjusting it to form the inside miter. It will naturally want to fold this miter on the quilt front, and you just mirror it on the back side. This miter fold can be whip stitched closed later if so desired. Continue sewing the binding to the back until finished.
I hope this helps! This is the same method to bind "double wedding ring" type quilts, only you would use a bias binding to go around the curves, instead of straight binding.


  1. do you know of a binding chart for measurements, on how you can figure out how much binding you will need for a quilt when you are making BIAS BINDING?

    i have seen he chart for straight binding, and that's great, but how do you figure out the measurements when you're cutting bias binding??


    1. There is a binding calculator on this site:

      go down in the 'of interest' section, click on Free printable quilt calculator charts. Then, go down up to 'binding calculator' and click on 'request this free binding calculator'.

      Hope it will be helpful for you.


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