Nancy’s Quilting Classroom: My Favorite Quilt Binding Technique

There’s no need to fear binding your quilt! I think of quilt binding as the last chance to add to the overall look of the quilt. If you want the quilt binding to disappear, then use the same fabric for the binding and outer quilt borders. If you want the binding to be noticed, use a different fabric than the one used in the outer borders. Or, make a scrappy quilt binding by cutting strips from leftover fabrics.

Whirling Pinwheels - Scrappy Quilt Binding
Whirling Pinwheels (scrappy quilt binding) by Nancy Mahoney

Whatever you choose, it should complement the quilt top. So, get those unfinished projects out of the closet and turn them into finished quilts. Follow along and learn my favorite technique for double-fold binding.

First, calculate how much quilt binding you’ll need:

  1. Measure the center of the quilt horizontally and vertically. Add those two measurements together and multiply the result by 2.
    For example, if the quilt measures 60″ x 72″: (a) 60 + 72 = 132 (b) 132 x 2 = 264.
  2. Add 12″ for seams and mitering the corners:
    Continuing with the example above: (c) 264 + 12 = 276.
    You’ll need 276″ of continuous binding. If you cut straight-grain binding, divide 276″ by the width of the fabric to determine how many strips to cut, then round up to the next whole number (276″ ÷ by 42″ = 6.5). You’ll need to cut 7 strips.
  3. Decide how wide you want to cut the strips. I like to cut 2″-wide binding strips. Since I prefer a thin batting, this size of strip hugs the edge of the quilt and I have the same width of binding on the front and back of the quilt. If you prefer a thicker batting or a wider binding, cut wider strips. Some quilters cut 2¼”-wide strips, while others like 2½”-wide strips. Choose the width that works best for you!

Now that you know how much quilt binding you need, let’s discuss finishing a quilt:

1. Cut the required number of strips. Overlap the binding strips, right sides together, at a 90° angle. Draw a line from corner to corner. Join the strips, sewing along the marked line.

Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 1

2. Trim the excess corner fabric, leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open to reduce bulk.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 2
3. Fold the continuous strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together and press.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 3
4. Use a rotary cutter and long ruler to trim the backing and batting even with the edges of the quilt top. Use a large square ruler to square-up the corners as needed.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 4
5. Begin stitching the binding to the quilt along one side, not at a corner. Match the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the quilt. Leaving a 6″ tail of binding, start sewing using a ¼” seam allowance.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 5
6. Stop sewing ¼” from the corner, with a backstitch and remove the quilt from the machine.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 6
7. Turn the quilt so you’ll be ready to sew the next edge. Fold the binding so that it extends straight up from the second edge to create a diagonal fold.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 7
8. Fold the binding down, aligning it with the second edge. The fold should be aligned with the corner of the quilt top. Use a couple pins to hold the fold in place.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 8
9. Sew the binding to the next side of the quilt in the same way, stopping ¼” from the corner. Fold the next miter and continue, stitching each side and mitering the corners as you go.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 9
10. Stop stitching about 6″ from the starting point with a backstitch. Remove the quilt from the machine.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 10
11. Overlap the beginning and ending tails of the binding. Mark the overlap by the same distance as the width of your binding strips. For instance, if you are using 2″-wide strips, mark a 2″ overlap. (If you are using 2¼”-wide strips, the overlap would be 2¼”.) Trim each end of the binding at the marked points.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 11
12. Open the folds of the two ends of the binding. Overlap the ends at right angles, with right sides together and pin the ends together. Draw a diagonal line between the two points where the binding strips intersect. Sew along the drawn line.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 12
13. Refold the binding strip and make sure it’s sewn correctly. Open the strip, trim the excess fabric, leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open, refold the seam section, return it to the edge of the quilt, and pin in place. Then finish sewing the binding in place. Fold the binding to the back of the quilt so that it covers the machine stitching. Hand stitch in place, folding the miters as you reach each corner.
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 13

 

Another option is to add an edge treatment to the edge of the quilt, between the quilt top and the quilt binding. Rickrack and piping make interesting and fun edge treatments and create a perfect frame for your beautiful quilt!
Nancy Mahoney - Quilt Binding 14

If you’d like to learn more about quilting binding techniques, like binding with piping, take a look at the free Sew Easy lesson, Binding with Piping, that includes instructions and a free PDF tutorial download.

Enjoy quilt binding corners, borders and all things included in finishing a quilt! It can be an intuitive process once you’ve completed a quilt or two.

Nancy Mahoney, Fons & Porter Guest Blogger

 

Happy Quilting!

Nancy

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Categories

Fons & Porter Blog, How to Finish a Quilt
Nancy Mahoney

About Nancy Mahoney

Author, teacher, fabric designer, and award-winning quiltmaker, Nancy Mahoney has enjoyed making quilts for over 30 years, during which time an impressive range of her beautiful quilts have been featured in many books and in over 180 national and international quilt magazines. Nancy enjoys combining traditional blocks and updated techniques to create dazzling quilts. She doesn’t consider herself a specialist in one particular area, although Nancy’s favorite techniques include precision machine piecing, quilt design, and machine appliqué. When she’s not designing and making quilts, Nancy enjoys traveling to guilds and events around the country, sharing her quilts, teaching her piecing and machine appliqué techniques, and visiting gardens. Visit Nancy on her website, www.nancymahoney.com, for more quilting information and fun!

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