So you want to learn to quilt : part 5 : binding your quilt

I can hardly believe it, but today is our fifth and final segment of the Beginner Quilt Series! Today I’m walking you through each step of trimming your quilt and attaching the binding.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

If you have purchased one of my curated quilt kits from Jones & Vandermeer, your kit came with the fabric needed for the binding, which was 1/2 yard. If you are choosing your own binding, I suggest first looking at your quilt as a work of art, and think of the binding as your frame. Sometimes you may feel the binding should play a secondary role and therefore choose something muted that blends well with the quilt. Often, I like to choose something that is high contrast and makes the quilt really pop. Whatever you choose, you’ll need about half a yard.

You’re also going to need some special needles for binding. I use these Straw Needles which I get locally, but you can also find them on Amazon. I have used other needles, and always come back to these. The cost is good, and they are extraordinarily strong for such fine needles. They are the perfect length as well.

Finally, the thread you choose should be strong (again, polyester is the way to go here, and I often use embroidery thread). It should also coordinate well with your binding fabric- it doesn’t have to be spot on, but get something that goes well with that fabric.

Ready to get started? Pull out your cutting mat, rotary cutter, and acrylic ruler. Lay your quilt out flat so that one of the edges is on your mat. You may want to press your quilt so it lays nice and flat before cutting if you need to. Line up your ruler along the edge and cut off the batting and backing. Your ruler should “square up” to the corners if your quilt hasn’t been warped. And if it has, don’t sweat it! Just trim it so its square. free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

You can fold your quilt to be sure you have even edges, if you want! Its a good way to check that everything lines up. free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Now we will cut the strips for binding. Keep your fabric folded so that the selvedge edges are together (so like for 44″ fabric, your fabric will be folded to 22″ x 18″). Line your ruler up on the raw edge, and use your folded edge as a guide to make sure your strips are nice and straight. Now cut 5 2.5″ strips from the fabric. You will have 5 44″x2.5″ strips. Cut off the edge of the strips where the fabric is labeled.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Just so you know, we won’t be using every last bit of that, but I’m looking at this like its possibly your first quilt, so we are keeping it as simple as possible. If you would like to read my full binding tutorial with an explanation for calculating exactly what you need to cut, you can also read my Picture Perfect Binding Tutorial.

Head over to your machine, because we are ready to sew the strips of binding together. When we sew strips for binding, we always want to use a 45° seam, because it will reduce bulk and keep the binding even around the quilt. To do this, grab your first strip and place it right side (pretty side) up and horizontal →. Take the next strip, and place it right side down vertically ↑ on top of the edge of the first strip like this:free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

We are going to sew from corner to corner along the line that I marked. If you find it simpler to follow a line, then by all means, mark a line like I did here, and sew on the line. Don’t snip the thread at the end, and you can save time and thread by chain piecing these. free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

So pick up the other end of the strip you sewed on the top, place it horizontally on the bottom (right side up), and then grab the next strip and place it vertically on top (right side down) just like you did before, and sew a line. Repeat with all five strips. You’ll have four seams and two edges that remain unsewn at the beginning and end. free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Now trim those triangles so that there’s about a 1/4″ seam like so:free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Cut the thread chains attaching those strips, and head over to your ironing board. Press the seams OPEN, and then fold your strips in half so that the pretty side is showing, and the raw edges meet. Press the whole long strip really well, and then you’ll be ready to grab your trimmed quilt so we can sew the binding to the quilt.

Now you’re going to attach the side with the raw edges to the raw edges of the front side of your quilt. Leaving a generous 8″ tail (mine may have been closer to 6″ oops), begin around the center of one the sides of your quilt, and using a 1/4″ seam and beginning with an backstitch, sew the binding to the edge of your quilt.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

When you approach your corner, stop 1/4″ before the corner, raise your needle.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
You will now fold the binding up, and then down the adjacent edge of your quilt. This will form a triangle on the binding. Begin stitching the next side from the top edge, and continue in this manner along the sides and corners until you are about 8″ away from your beginning seam.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
When you are about that far away (8ish inches), remove your quilt from the machine.
Now we need to trim the excess binding and attach the strips so that they become one. To do this, trim a couple of inches off the beginning piece of binding.

We’re going to use what you just trimmed off as a guide for where to cut the end binding. Overlap the beginning and end pieces, and open up the piece you trimmed off.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Using that as a guide, trim the end piece so that it is overlapping your beginning piece 2.5″ (the width of your trimmed piece). Then trim off another 1/8″ for good measure. When I was taught, the lady told me to give it a haircut. :)free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
Okay. Now your ready to attach the ends. We’re going to do this the same way we attached the pieces to begin with with a 45° seam, but its just a little trickier since its attached to the quilt. But you can do it!!! Keep going.

Attach the ends so that they lay perpendicular. Its a great idea to keep them intact with pins or clips while you sew.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Once your seam is sewn, trim it down to 1/4″ and press open. Then fold the binding in half (it will naturally want to do this), and stitch the binding to the quilt the rest of the way.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

So now you are ready to begin hand stitching the binding to the backside of the quilt. Before you start, its a good idea to trim the corners of the quilt. Trim only the quilt, and not the stitching! This will help your corners to be perfect and flat.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
Press your binding away from the front of your quilt.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt, and beginning at somewhere other than a corner, clip down the edge in a single spot. Insert your needle through the backing of your quilt and up through the binding just to the left of your pin.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
Thread your needle and tie a hefty knot at one end. Again, you’ll want to use a thread that matches your binding, not the backing.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingFree professional quilt binding tutorial

Now insert your needle into the backing just below where it came out of the binding. Going toward the left (if you are right handed – the right if you are left handed), penetrate the backing and batting, but not the front of your quilt, and bring your needle out and through the binding about 1/4″ away. Continue to do this (its called a slip stitch or blind stitch) until you reach the corner.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

Notice how you can’t see your stitches and the binding has been attached invisibly?free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
Once you reach the corner, sew all the way to the edge of the quilt, and then fold down that angled corner. Insert your needle up through the binding at the bottom of the corner, then insert it back into the binding and up to almost the top of the corner.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding
You’re going to blindstitch that corner down in the same manner that you’ve been stitching the binding to the quilt. This helps your corners to stay intact and crisp.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add bindingfree Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

After the corner is sewn down, keep on stitching until you’ve made it around the quilt. Once you’ve done several stitches, your hands pick up the rhythm, and it becomes a relaxing task. Keep on practicing, and you’ll be speeding through hand binding.free Beginner Quilt Series part four : how to add binding

That’s it! Again, if you want more photos (though essentially the same instructions) you can check out my Picture Perfect Binding tutorial.

Remember to tag me @thefooshe in your photos or use #ojhbeginnerquiltseries. I would absolutely love to see your quilt!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave it below in the comments section and I’ll be happy to answer.

-Meredith

Free professional quilt binding tutorial
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Welcome to Olivia Jane Handcrafted! I'm Meredith and this is my creative journal. Here you'll find loads of inspiration for a handmade wardrobe, home decor, bags, and quilts. I even have plenty of projects and tutorials to get you started or help you along the way. 

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