For some people, binding a quilt is their favorite step, and for others quilt binding is their absolute least favorite. If you fall into that latter category, I am here to help make the quilt binding process as painless as possible for you!
If you are completely brand new to quilting and wondering “What is Binding” or “What does it mean to Bind a Quilt?” you might want to start here with the 12 Steps to making a Quilt.
Maybe you’ve been quilting for a little while but struggle with getting the binding on evenly, or maybe you want to know how to get clean, crisp corners! Or maaayybe you’ve been quilting for many years but want to learn a new style of binding – whatever your story or background, I am here to help!
In this blog series about quilt bindings, I plan to show you how to prepare a quilt for binding, along with a couple methods of actually binding the quilt. This “Part 1” post is mostly dedicated to getting your quilt ready for binding and making the binding itself! Before I dive into prepping your quilt for binding, I’d first like to share a quick overview of the most common binding methods.
Common Quilt Binding Methods
- Sewing by machine: front and back
- Sewing the front binding onto the quilt by machine, and then sewing the back by hand
- Using Bias Tape binding with a special sewing machine attachment
- Forgoing binding altogether – using the inside-out method
- Large satin binding around the edges (very common for baby blankets)
- Facing, which is kind of like binding but does not show on the front of the quilt. It’s common for show quilts.
My personal binding preferences lie in the first two options mentioned above: either sewing it on entirely by machine or doing the first part by machine and flipping and hand sewing down the other side. I find that the sturdiest and quickest method to sew on binding is to sew it on with your sewing machine, but the hand stitching method is timeless and very therapeutic! Because these two methods are my favorite, those are the ones I will be focusing on in this article.
Getting Your Quilt Ready for Binding
Before you get started with the binding, you first have to prepare your quilt. I “square up” my quilt by trimming off the excess batting and backing, and tug it as needed to make the lines as straight as possible. (Sometimes shift happens during the quilting process, the more square your corners are, and the more straight your edges are, the easier it will be to sew on the binding!)
Once the quilt is trimmed, I sew around all 4 edges close to the edge. If you have a serger or overlock machine, this is a really great opportunity to use it! I personally use my HUSQVARNA AMBER AIR and thread like this one from Connecting Threads to get the edges of my quilt ready for binding.
Watch this quick video for my tips for getting started with a serger:
Why does sewing the edges help? I like to sew the edges down for a couple reasons. One, it keeps things in place in case your quilting doesn’t already go over the edges of the quilt. and Two, It reduced lint and stray threads fraying off the edges while doing the binding. and Three, it makes the edges/corners more flat and easier to work with.
Making Your Quilt Binding
This part of the blog series is devoted to the most typical binding methods, the first 2 mentioned above. Whether you are sewing it on entirely by machine or doing the second part by hand, you can follow these steps to create great binding.
If you are using a binding attachment for bias tape binding, you will prepare your binding differently, which I will cover in later posts in this quilt binding series – stay tuned!
After your quilt edges are trimming and sewn together, the next step is to make your binding. I suggest to cut your binding strips at 2.5″ wide and then sew them together on the diagonal. (You can also do 2.25″ if you prefer – I find it works well with smaller projects such as wall hangings, table runners, or mug rugs).
To find out how many strips of binding fabric you will need, measure the perimeter of your quilt in inches and then divide that number by 40. (As most quilting fabric is 42″ wide and you need some of it for the diagonal seams sewing it together). If it looks like it will be a close call, I suggest cutting one extra binding strip to be safe. Its harder to add a strip once the binding is already being sewn down!
Now that you have your binding strips all cut, you sew them together diagonally, paying close attention to the right and wrong sides of the fabric (which is a little more difficult if your binding fabric is not obvious which is the “right” and “wrong” sides). After sewing, trim the corners off to make it a 1/4″ seam allowance, and press the seams open. Next, bring the raw edges of the length of the strip together and press the whole long strip in half. To make it easier to work with, I like to roll mine up as I go into a little cinnamon bun shaped binding roll.
Does quilt binding have to be cut on the bias?
A common question for quilters is whether the binding needs to be cut on the bias. The short answer is no.
Personally, I cut the vast majority of my binding as Width of Fabric (WOF) strips, on grain. If the edges of your quilt are straight, you can cut the binding on grain too. The scenario in which you would want bias binding is if it will need to stretch. For example, if the corners of your quilt are rounded, you would want to cut the binding on the bias.
Yippee! Your quilt is ready to bind and your binding is made! Follow these links to find out the next steps:
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