Quilt Binding: Part 3 – Hand Binding
Hand-stitched quilt binding is probably my favorite way to bind a quilt! I prep my quilt, make the binding, sew it on one side with my machine, and the flip it over and hand stitch the back side down.
In Quilt Binding Part 1 you will find how to make your binding and my own personal favorite ways to prepare my quilt for binding. Then in Quilt Binding Part 2 I shared with you the methods I use to sew the binding onto the first side of the quilt. Quilt Binding Part 2 also teaches exactly how I use my sewing machine to sew on the 2nd side as well. If that’s more your speed, definitely check out my article to find out the most accurate basting method. Now in Part 3, I am teaching how to stitch your sewing binding on by hand once you get the first side down. Keep reading to learn two different methods!
Quilt Binding with Hand Sewing
Hand sewing the binding on the quilt was the way my grandma taught me to do it, and is still my favorite method. I thoroughly love the slow pace and getting to snuggle under the quilt while I work at it.
If you choose the sew your binding on by hand, you’ll sew the first side of your binding down on the machine, and then flip it over and sew it by hand. To watch the whole binding process, including hand binding, check out this complete tutorial video:
I’ll share two main design choices when sewing your quilt binding on by hand. Option 1 is to do the “Old Fashion” method that I learned from my grandma – invisible stitches. Another option is to make it visible with large, bold hand quilting stitches. I love the extra flare and texture these stitches add to a quilt!
Basic Quilt Binding Steps:
Binding Step 1: Prep your quilt and your binding. Read about that here.
Binding Step 2: Use your machine to sew the binding on all the way around. The full FREE tutorial of how to sew on your binding by machine can be found here.
Binding Step 3: Decide which hand sewing style you prefer: small invisible stitches or big bold stitches! (More on how to do each one below.)
Hand Sewn Binding Option 1 – Small Invisible Stitches
When hand sewing the quilt binding with invisible stitches, the tools you use can make a big difference. I like to use a thin, yet strong, thread in a color that will blend in well to the backing fabric, and a small needle like these. It also helps to grab some wonder clips to hold the binding in place while you’re stitching.
Begin by tying a small knot with your thread into your seam allowance. The easiest way to tie the knot is by looping your needle through the seam allowance a couple times until it’s secure, then you can begin carefully stitching the binding onto the quilt backing.
Use a slip stitch to create small invisible stitches along the back securing the binding in place. Start by coming up from the seam allowance with your needle, then insert through the backing directly below where you came up earlier. Glide your needle through the backing about an 1/8″ – 1/4″ away from your current stitch and start a new one. Come up through the binding, grabbing just a tiny bit of the edge, and go straight down into the backing. Most of your thread length will actually end up underneath the backing, with little bits coming up just enough to grab the binding for each stitch.
Your end result will be a beautiful row of nearly-invisible stitches! When you get all the way around, tie off close to the edge and then bury the tail of your thread within the layers of binding.
Hand Sewn Binding Option 2 – Big Bulky Stitches
Big bulky stitches in your binding is a lot like hand quilting, which you can read all about in “10 Easy Steps to Hand Quilting”.
The ideal thread for hand quilting your binding is a cotton 8 or 12 weight in a contrasting color from your binding, so it shows up! I also suggest using a needle that has an eye large enough to easily thread but not too big that it makes it difficult to glide through the layers of fabric.
Begin your hand sewing by tying a simple knot at the end of your thread, and sew a simple stitch into your seam allowance to start. Glide the needle up through the binding, leave about a 1/4″ gap, and then guide the needle down into the seam allowance. Be careful to get the backing and some batting in your stitch, but do not go all the way through all the layers of the quilt. You will want to see a big stitch on the back over the binding but the thread shouldn’t show on the front side of the quilt.
Repeat these simple big hand quilting stitches until you’ve made it all around the edges of your quilt. Tying off can be tricky but I try to do it as close to the edge of the binding as possible so it is hidden, and then bury my thread tail for a few inches before snipping off the excess thread.
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