binding

Tutorial: How To Bind A Quilt (OPQA)

And for our very last trick (man, it’s been so long we’ve been quilting together, quilt-alongers, I’m going to miss you guys so much! Good thing I have another quilt-along coming up in July! ;) ), we’ll bind our beautiful Orange Peel quilts. We done so good, let’s enjoy this last step.

Binding is actually my favorite part – particularly the hand-stitched finish. There’s something so satisfying about finishing off that last bit with the quilt in your lap, going around the whole thing, admiring your hard work as you stitch. I know some people machine stitch the finish, and that’s fine for them, but the few times I’ve tried have gone very badly, and I just enjoy the time with my quilt. It takes longer, sure, but we’ve spent six months working on this one – do we really want to scrimp on time now??

Just so you know, I use straight (not bias) binding and I join them with a straight (not angled) seam. I’ll walk you through the entire binding process, but first you have to figure out how much binding you need to make.

For this quilt, I’m using 2.25″ strips, because I want to attach it with a strict 1/4″ seam so that I don’t overlap any of my peels. (I do sometimes use 2.5″ strips for a slightly wider binding.) My quilt is 70″ square, so the length to cover is: 70″ x 4 = 280″. My fabric is 43″ wide, once the selvedge is trimmed off, so: 280″ ÷ 43″ = 6.511 (7) strips to cut from my fabric. Let’s make a nifty formula for that:

(2 x quilt length) + (2 x quilt width) ÷ width of fabric = number of strips

So now, press your fabric and get it nice and lined up on your cutting mat (line up the fold so you don’t cut wonky strips), trim the selvedge, and cut the number of strips your calculation told you to cut:

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With right sides facing, sew each strip to the next with a 1/2″ seam, end-to-end. You’ll have a monstrously long strip.

Press seams open, and then press the entire thing in half, wrong sides together:

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Huzzah! You’ve made binding! Good job. Now we’ll attach it to the quilt, which should now be all quilted, and the excess batting and backing trimmed away, nice and neat:

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With raw edges aligned, pin your binding to the top of your quilt, starting about halfway down one side:

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When you reach a corner, first fold the binding away from the quilt:

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Then back over itself to continue along the next side:

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You’ll have a funny little flappy fold there at the corner.

Now continue in this way around all sides. The only thing to watch out for is that one of your binding seams doesn’t fall on a corner. If this happens, unpin and start over at a slightly different point. Trust me, it’s a real pain in the ass if the seam is on a corner, it’s just not worth it.

When you get back to the beginning, fold each end so that they meet at the fold, and finger press. Sew the two ends together along that pressed crease (it’s awkward, but it’s only a tiny seam) and trim excess binding with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I’m terribly sorry, I was working on auto-pilot and forgot to take a photo of this step, but you can see it in this tutorial, and this is what you will have in the end:

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You now have continuous binding pinned all the way around your quilt. Starting about 6″ or so from the top of one side (where I’m pointing – though it’s not important exactly where, just not at the top):

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Start sewing the binding in place, with a 1/4″ seam. Remember that your peels are only slightly over 1/4″ away from the edge, and you don’t want to overlap them with the binding, so take care to make a neat seam!

Sew all the way down, stopping 1/4″ from the end:

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Fold the flap over and start the next side, from the very top this time:

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(Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of each side!)

Continue along the remaining three sides in the same way. When you get back to the last / first corner, do just as you did with the previous ones: stop 1/4″ from the end, fold the flap back, start from the top and sew down until you meet the point where you began. Backstitch and huzzah! That’s it!

Now you have to stitch the folded edge to the back, covering all the raw edges in the process. Binding is kind of ingenious, isn’t it? You’ll need a sewing needle you feel happy with, a thimble (optional), sewing thread to match your binding fabric, little scissors, and binding clips:

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I love Clover Wonder Clips ’cause they’re totally awesome, but you can also use hair clips or even pins to secure the binding while you sew. Again, starting near the top of a side, but not at the actual top, secure a length of binding around the edge:

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Now cut a length of thread about the length of your arm, or a bit shorter. Fold that in half, and then thread the cut ends through your needle. (I’m using a green thread here to make it easier for you to see, but I will use the navy Aurifil above to sew for realsies.) Take your first stitch through binding and the back, scooping up just a teeeensy weeensy couple of threads of each. Don’t pull the thread all the way through, but instead pass it through the end loop before tightening up the first stitch:

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Now take stitches every 1/8″ – 1/4″, like this:

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Basically, just like you stitched your peels! You can just see my little stitches there, which would be much more invisible if using matching thread. Some people prefer to ladder stitch, others have their own preferred method – this is just the stitch that I feel I can work fastest while being neat and secure.

When you run out of thread, sew a knot and bury the end inside the binding or quilt before trimming the thread, then start a new thread just as before. Hand-stitching corners is very similar to how you handled them on the front – sew to about 1/4″ the end, then fold over the next side, making a nice neat corner, and continue up the next side (I like to make an extra stitch right at the corner there, before turning):

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Continue in this way until you get back to the beginning! And now, my friends, you have a finished quilt. How much do you love it??