It is time to finish your quilt! You felt finished when you completed the quilt top and then again when the quilting was done, but for it to really be done finished, you need to do a binding. The binding goes around the edge of the quilt sealing all the layers together.
Step 1: Select the Fabric for Your Binding
The binding is visible from both the front and back of the quilt so you want to select a fabric that works aesthetically. You may want to preview a few different options to select the one that works best.
Since the binding is on the edge of the quilt and will get a lot of wear, you want to select your fabric accordingly. Quilting cotton or other woven cottons will usually work well. Avoid fabrics with a loose weave, like most flannels or linens, as they are likely to unravel. It's also best to avoid delicate fabrics like silks or thick fabrics like canvas or denim.
Step 2: Calculate How Much Fabric You’ll Need
Since the binding goes all the way around the quilt you will need a long enough strip of fabric to go entirely around the quilt! You can calculate the amount you'll need yourself using the method below or use one of the many online calculators like this one.
How to do the math yourself:
Find the total length of the binding strip
Total Binding Length = (2 x width of quilt) + (2 x length of quilt) + 10-12 inches
For example, if your quilt is 48” x60” your binding will need to be (2 x 48") +(2 x 60") + 10" = 226”
Calculate the number of strips to cut
Number of Strips = length of strip/width of fabric (rounded up to the whole number).
In this case, assuming the fabric is the standard 42” from selvage to selvage, the number of strips = 226/42 = 5.38 rounded up to 6 strips.
Determine the yardage needed
Yardage = the number of strips x width of the strip (for this technique 2.5“)
For our example, the yardage is 6 strips x 2.5 inches = 15 inches or half a yard. Particularly if you are going to use a die cutter (see below) you should add an inch or two for fabric waste
Step 3: Cut into 2.5" Strips
Now that you have your fabric you will need to cut it into 2.5" strips. Depending on what tools you have available you can either use a rotary cutter and ruler or a die cutter.
Using a rotary cutter and ruler
Carefully fold your fabric in half lining up the selvage edges.
Place your ruler perpendicular to the selvage edge and cut a neat straight line.
Rotate your fabric (or cutting mat) 180 degrees, and using your fresh cut, measure 2.5" and cut across the fabric.
Continue until you have cut all your strips.
Use the die cutter
If you're making your quilt binding at Hello Stitch, you can use our Accuquilt die cutter to make perfect 2.5" strips in seconds!
Step 4: Sew the Strips Together
The next step is to sew all the strips together to make one long strip. Because the binding gets a lot of wear you want to do this in a way that creates a strong seam. Sewing the strips together on the diagonal helps to prevent a lump in the binding where the seams meet. When you are first learning, this technique it can be confusing but you’ll be a pro before you know it!
Place two strips perpendicular to each other right side to right side with an overlap of ¼”.
Pin this together and draw a diagonal line. The line is on the wrong side of your fabric so you don’t need to worry about it showing, just don’t use ink that stains through your fabric.
Sew along the line. It will magically create a straight strip.
Continue to add onto your strip until all the pieces are connected.
Step 5: Trim, Press, Fold, Press
To prevent lumps in your binding, be sure to trim your seams to about ¼”. Some people like to be exact and use a ruler and rotary cutter while others just trim using scissors.
Press your seams open. Again, this is to eliminate lumps or bulky areas in your binding.
Fold and press your binding strip in half wrong side to wrong side along the long edge.
Pro Tip: You did the math but it never hurts to check your work. Lay the long strip around the edge of your quilt beginning somewhere in the middle of a side. It should overlap by at least 10”. If it doesn’t, this is the time to additional length. Also, look to make sure that none of the seams fall on a corner. If they do, move the strip around until there are no seams on the corners. Mark where your strip starts with a pin.
Step 6: Attach to Your Quilt Top
Use the sewing machine to sew the folded strip to the top side of your quilt. (You’ll use hand sewing to attach the binding to the back of the quilt.) If you have a walking foot for your machine, this is the time to use it. If you are working at Hello Stitch Studio, we have lots of walking feet, we even have one with a 1/4" seam guide!
Measure and put a pin ¼” before the first corner of the quilt you are sewing to.
Place the folded strip on top of the quilt, lining up the rough edge of the strip with the edge of your trimmed quilt. Leaving at least a foot from the beginning of the binding strip, sew ¼” from the edge using a walking foot.
Stop when you get to the pin ¼” from the corner and leave your needle in the down position.
Step 7: Making a Mitered Corner
You’ve worked hard on this quilt, show off by doing a mitered corner!
You just stopped ¼” from the corner. Leaving the needle in the down position, lift the foot and rotate the quilt 45 degrees so you sew straight through the point of the quilt corner.
You can now remove your quilt from the machine.
Fold your binding following the diagonal you just sewed.
Then fold the binding down so it lines up with the next edge of the quilt.
Sew 1/4" along the next quilt edge and continue as described above until you are about 10 inches from where you started.
Step 8: Connect the beginning to the end
This is a trick that creates a nice diagonal seam in exactly the right spot so your binding perfectly fits your quilt.
Lay your binding strip flat on your quilt edge so there is an overlap.
Trim the ends of the binding strip so the overlap is exactly 2 ¾” (1⁄4" longer than the width of your binding). Yes, this is a little scary, but just believe.
Open the strip on the left so it is right side up and open the strip on the right so it is wrong side up. This will allow you to sew right side to right side. Arrange so they form an X with an ⅛” sticking out on either side.
Pin and mark the diagonal the same way you did when you were attaching the short strips together.
Sew along the diagonal. Check to make sure it lies flat on the quilt. Trim the seam to ¼” and iron open.
Attach the binding to the quilt by sewing ¼” from the edge beginning and ending an inch over your previous sewing.
Step 9: Iron and attach to back
Iron your binding flat over the edge so you can easily fold it to the backside of the quilt.
You are going to hand sew the binding to the quilt back.
Use thread that matches the binding and a blind or slip stitch. You can learn how here or by watching this video. Be careful to just go through the backing and perhaps some batting but not through to the top.
Step 10: Wash and Enjoy!