binding tutorial, quilt binding tutorial, Tutorial Tuesday

Tutorial Tuesday: Quilt Binding

I recently got The Quilter’s Bible by Linda Clements from and she’s got some instructions for binding that I hadn’t seen before. So mine is similar, but her method for joining up those last ends looked like it might require more skill than I currently have.
This binding tutorial will work for a quilt of any size, from mug rugs to big quilts.

First you need to determine how long it needs to be – measure one long and one short side and multiply by 2 (35″ side + 45″ length x 2 = 160″). Then you need to add on extra for joining it all together at the end. If you’re doing a mug rug, 10″ is enough. If you’re binding a big quilt, aim for 20″. Small quilt needs 12″-16″ extra.
I always use 2 1/2″ wide binding strips. Some people use 2.25″. You can do whatever you’re comfortable with.

You will probably need to join your strips together to make them one continuous strip. Here’s how:


Place one strip face up on your ironing board as shown. Place another strip face down on the end, as shown. Fold and press the other strip as shown in the picture, then unfold and carefully line it up with the edges of your first strip (the orange one):


Stitch down that line, then trim the seam allowance down to 1/4″. Press seams OPEN to prevent bulk:


Continue joining strips in this way until you have all the length you need. Then iron them lengthwise, with wrong sides together, as shown below:


Now, with the unfinished edges pointed out, pin one side to the rug/quilt. Most of the time, I attach mine to the back, then bring it round the front and machine stitch the edge down (no patience!). You could also attach it to the front, fold it to the back and slipstitch by hand. Do what you are comfortable with. Before you start sewing, however, leave a tail, as long as possible. Make sure you leave a tail, and leave yourself plenty of room to join up the tail! See photo and paragraph below:
Ok, so you’re not at this stage yet, but see how much ’empty’ room I’ve left myself? This is because manouvering the binding over to your sewing machine to finish it off is a HUGE pain if you’ve only left yourself a tiny bit of space to do it by sewing right up to the point where it overlaps at the end. So my advice? Leave as much room as possible. Start sewing only a few inches from the bottom edge, and stop sewing a few inches in from the top edge when you come all the way around.
Mark a line 1/4″ from the bottom edge (as shown below in blue chalk). Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance to that line and sew a couple of locking/backstitches. Use a walking foot if you have one. See below:
Take the quilt off the sewing machine completely.
Flip your long tail up like shown below and finger press:

Now fold it back down and pin carefully in place (it will have a little ‘ear’ on the left):

Now line up and pin the binding to the rug/quilt the same as you did before, and sew from the top all the way down 1/4″ above the next edge. Sew till you’re 1/4″ away from the next corner.
Repeat for all the edges.
When you get toward the end, leave another tail overlapping your first one. Trim the tails so they overlap by the width of the binding plus 1/4″. (So on a 2 1/2″ binding, overlap by 2 3/4″ )
Now with right sides together, overlap each end by 1/8″ and draw a line like shown below:
Sew down that line (it’s all a bit fiddly but keep trying and you’ll get there – I scrunch up the quilt to get it to behave). Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and press open (oops, I forgot to press open in the pic, but you should do it now!):
Now you can stitch that down:
Now fold it over to the front, pin like crazy and stitch the edges down:
Done! You’re awesome!
(The first time I wrote this tutorial, I was too chicken to try it by machine. But I lost my enthusiasm for hand stitching when I learned how to knit, so I started on mug rugs, then progressed to quilts. I have NO patience, so it works better for me. If I keep to the edges I usually don’t catch the back binding in my stitches. And if I do, so what? It’s on the back!)

© Copyright J C Excell, 2011. You are welcome to use any SewHappyGeek tutorial for personal use. You are even welcome to make a couple to sell, but you are not given permission to use my pictures or my words without giving me credit and linking back to the original. You are NEVER allowed to copy an entire tutorial or post.
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13 thoughts on “Tutorial Tuesday: Quilt Binding

  1. A few weeks ago, I hunted high and low for online instructions for how to do corners like this and, whilst I did find a few, none of them explained it very well. Or they showed it on black fabric with black thread. *eyeroll*

    I spent hours trying to figure it out for myself and finally managed it but what I didn't figure out was that I could join the ends on an angle – that will make my joins much less bumpy!

    Thanks for posting this, Jenna!

  2. I don't mind the hand sewing so much, it gives me time to catch up on all the shows I have on the DVR instead of watching nails on the blackboard annoying cartoons on Nick JR.

    And a cheat to the above commenter, If I use a straight seam on the binding when piecing it together I press my seam open *gasp* so it isn't so bulky.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content.Nice article and great photos. Very nicely done!

  4. Jenna, just found your blog, I'm posting a link of this Tutorial on my site tomorrow 4-7 this is one of the best I've seen. Happy I found you ! !

  5. This is a great tut on this. For my first ever quilt (baby quilt) I tried this and two corners look good and two corners look horrible. This is great. Thanks for taking the time to post it!

  6. I have done my bindings this same way for quite some time, but always had trouble joining the two tails at the end. Thanks for a much simpler way to do it than how I was strugling with it. Your tut was great and so clear.

  7. What a brilliant tutorial – very clear instructions. I am just binding my first art quilt and found your tutorial very easy to follow, I will definately be using this process again.
    Many thanks for taking the trouble to post .

  8. Absolutely wonderful tutorial. If I had any suggestions it would be to use solid primary colored fabric instead of the “dots” so it would be even easier to see with contrasting color thread. This is the perfect binding technique and I really appreciate these explicit instructions! HAPPY 2012!

  9. great tute ! this is how I have been doing it ; recently I got even lazier and don’t miter all the time – just but the ends together and sew and press real good !!! saw that on somebody’s blog ! I machine stitch because I am impatient , too , and I really think it’s more secure by machine .

  10. I am new at quilting and I too have little patience for hand sewing so I like your method on binding. Questions: 1) how wide of a seam do you use when sewing the binding to the quilt? 2) how wide is the bind when finished?

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