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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Now trim those triangles so that there’s about a 1/4″ seam like so:
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.
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.
Attach the ends so that they lay perpendicular. Its a great idea to keep them intact with pins or clips while you sew.
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.
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.
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.
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.