Tutorial: How to Bind a Quilt

>> Saturday, May 26, 2007

New note! I have a new website full of sewing and embroidery video tutorials - including a VIDEO VERSION of this tutorial on How to Bind a Quilt. Check it out!

Now back to my original post. . .

The subject of this month's Whiplash is miniature quilts and I really wanted to make one, but I've been on the road for work for three weeks this month and there's no way I can get even a mini quilt finished. So I decided instead to post a tutorial about how to bind a quilt - something I've been meaning to do forever. So here it is. . . How to Bind a Quilt.

First you need to cut your binding strip. Cut it 2 1/4" wide and long enough to go all the way around the quilt plus several inches to a foot. I usually go for an extra foot - you don't want to get all the way around and come up an inch short. Really. I've been there and done that and I never want to go there again. You'll probably need to join shorter strips together to get a strip that's long enough. Here's how.

Lay your strips at right angles to each other and stitch across the diagonal so that when you open it up it runs straight. Press the seam open and trim off the excess seam allowance. Your goal here is to minimize bulk. I used two different fabrics here so you could see the seams, but it's fun to use a variety of fabrics sometimes.

After you have constructed one long strip, fold it in half so that the pretty side is showing on both sides of the strip. Press it that way. Fold down one corner and press that too. You're making the starting point here.Now trim the excess seam allowance off the folded point so you have a clean, folded edge and not too much extra fabric.
Fold your binding strip back in half and press it all really well.
Lay it along the edge of your quilt so that all of the raw edges (edge of quilt and both raw edges of the binding strips) are lined up. Start stitching a few inches in from the leading point of your binding strip - using a 1/4" seam allowance - and stop when you get exactly 1/4" from the edge.Backstitch and take the quilt out of the machine. Fold your binding straight back so you have a diagonal fold.
Hold that diagonal fold in place and fold your strip back down so that the back fold lines up with the back edge of your quilt.
Line your raw edges back up again and start stitching from the back edge of the quilt.
Stitch until you are 1/4" from the next edge and repeat for all the corners.
When you get back to your starting place, tuck the end of your binding strip into the "finished" starting edge of your binding strip. This is why you didn't start stitching that binding down right from the start - you need that first few inches free for tucking and folding. Trim away as much excess fabric as you can and continue stitching down the binding strip until you meet your starting stitches. Backstitch and you're almost done.I like to wait until I get my binding on before I trim away the excess batting and backing. Do that now using a straight edge and rotary cutter. Trim it right to your raw edges but be careful not to cut through the folded parts of your binding at the corners.
Now you have some hand-sewing to do. Put in a movie and enjoy it. Start in the middle of a side - not at a corner. Turn the folded edge of your binding strip to the back and stitch it down with small stitches. Don't take your needle all the way through the front - you don't want stitches showing on the front side. Just take it through the backing and batting.

When you turn those corners right-side-out they will make perfect mitered corners. If those corners are loose at all you can tack in a couple of stitches, but it's usually not necessary. I do usually take a few stitches into the bit where the start and end of the binding overlap.

Sign the back and you're done.


karrie May 29, 2007 at 3:04 AM  

Just in time! I was about to do this horribly wrong. Thanks!

Abby May 29, 2007 at 2:30 PM  

Thanks for the tutorial. I have three quilts waiting for this right now!

Unknown May 29, 2007 at 9:47 PM  

wow! what a great tute! thanks for that.

crazyQstitcher May 31, 2007 at 7:05 PM  

This is a great tutorial and I'm off to make a sample block just so I can try the directions.

Thank you, Maureen

Threadspider June 2, 2007 at 1:08 PM  

Incredibly useful tutorial. Thanks for taking the time.

Anonymous,  June 6, 2007 at 1:51 AM  

Super helpful! You are a doll to put this up here. The pictures really bring it to life.

Anonymous,  February 3, 2008 at 12:53 AM  

Great tutorial but I don't understand how to finish the beginning and the end to get a nice complete finish

Anonymous,  February 8, 2008 at 10:31 AM  

Oh my Gosh! Pictures! I am so visual and finally found your site. Thank you again and again!

Sabyl Sylver February 16, 2008 at 12:09 AM  

I have looked at several sites and I find this tutorial to be the best, thanks.
I really need this as I am working on my first quilt and it is for an event for the Tempest Smith Foundation for Tolerance, to be used as a backdrop.
Thanks again.

Gene Black March 6, 2008 at 1:14 PM  


I am a rank beginner but I need to rebind a quilt my grandmother made.
When I start stitching the binding onto the quilt do I sew BOTH raw edges down? Then when I fold it over to do the back do I have the fold edge that I am sewing onto the back?
Did I understand that right?

I was so glad to see some instructions. I would have made a big mess.

musicmama March 13, 2008 at 8:30 PM  

Thanks for a great and useful tutorial. How would you apply this technique to a 135 degree star corner on an star within a square shaped quilt?

Anonymous,  April 21, 2008 at 2:12 PM  

Thanks for the really good instructions. I have bound a quilt before but couldn't find my instructions.

fort lauderdale, fl

Anonymous,  April 23, 2008 at 12:19 PM  

Thank you so much for posting this tutorial on Binding. I am now ready to bind my first quilt, which I am giving to my 74 year old mother for Mother's Day, and I want to do it right. Your tutorial is the best I've found and easy to understand! Love the helpful pictures as examples.

Jacksonville, FL

Anonymous,  July 20, 2008 at 2:01 PM  

I googled how to do this (thinking I'll never find anything I can understand) and your tutorial came up first. I was making a serger quilt for my soon to be born daughter. It was so easy!!! Thanks Bunches!!! :)

Anonymous,  July 26, 2008 at 10:09 AM  

Thank You!!! Brand-new quilter here, and everything else I could pick up without the pictures... I'll be refering back to this often!

Anonymous,  August 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM  

Thank you for these great instructions and pictures. They are THE BEST I have seen. I have tried this for YEARS and never gotten it. Now, I have it! Thank you so much!
Judy Brennan - Overland Park, KS

Anonymous,  September 25, 2008 at 9:08 AM  

Oh! I never thought to trim the backing and batting after sewing on the binding strip! That is such a great idea. Thank you!

DrMommy November 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM  

Thank you, this is so helpful. I've just started quilting...my mom is an expert but she lives 3,000 miles away, and it's hard to just explain things over the phone!

Anonymous,  November 18, 2008 at 11:36 AM  

Oh my goodness......thank you so very much!! I found this just in time! Very clear directions and photos.

Karen December 26, 2008 at 9:02 PM  

This is GREAT!!! Thank you SO much!!

Anonymous,  February 7, 2009 at 7:13 AM  

Thank you so much. I have looked in dozens of places to have one question answered and you answered it as a matter of course. I wish I had found you earlier.

Anonymous,  March 12, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

Thank you so much!!! i am only fifteen and my parents and friends know nothing about quilting. i have to finish a bay quilt today so thank you for this, it was so helpful!!

Anonymous,  April 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM  

Awesome... Thankyou. I just successfully bound my first quilt which is for my Auntu's 60th Birthday...

Anonymous,  October 26, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

I was trying to explain this to my sister and your pictures sure made it easy. I'm sure she won't have any trouble now.

Rosemary May 8, 2010 at 2:25 AM  

Thank you, I really need this!

Anonymous,  June 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

Thank you - the pictures really help. I've been making baby and lap quilts and using the pillow-case method, but wanted something nicer.

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