How many of you have finished a quilt and…it’s been sitting around, incomplete, because it hasn’t been bound? Binding is one of the top things that both those who sew and those who machine embroider get nervous about. But knowing a few tricks can greatly simplify the process! Here is Kim Christopherson’s favorite way to bind a quilt:
Kim’s rule of thumb is to measure all four sides, add them up, and then add another 10 inches. This technique is great for quilts, table runners, or anything else that needs to be bound!
We recommend 2 ¼” wide strips for binding. Some of you may prefer 2 ½”, and that works great too! But at Kimberbell, our go-to is 2 ¼” wide.
Sewing Binding Strip Sections Together
We sew binding strips on a 45 degree angle by following these steps:
- Form a perpendicular corner with your strips, right sides together.
- Sew from the top left corner down to the bottom right corner. (It helps to first press the top right corner down with your fingers, open it up, and then sew along the crease from corner to corner.)
- Remove from the machine and cut the extra fabric ¼” from the seam.
- Repeat steps 1-3 until all of the binding strip sections are sewn together.
- Take the strip to your ironing board and press in half, wrong sides together. You are now ready to add to the quilt!
Adding the Binding to the Quilt
- Eyeball approximately 10 inches from the top of your long strip of binding fabric and leave that as a floppy “tail” you’ll use later. (You’ll start stitching at 10 inches from the top.)
- Lay the raw edge of the binding against the raw edge of your quilt.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, sew along the edge. Stop stitching when you get ¼” from the end. (Use a ruler and a pin to remind yourself to stop!)
- When you get to the corner, flip your binding strip up and crease it at a 45-degree angle (you’ll have a big tail of binding at the top). Then flip the tail back down and pin in place. (Helpful demonstration video below!)
- Continue this process until you’ve done this on all four sides. We recommend starting at the top of each edge, rather than starting ¼” down.
Joining the Ends
Many people feel stressed about joining the ends of the binding, but there’s no need to fear!
- Stop sewing when there’s about 15-20” between the two ends and remove the quilt from your machine.
- Remember that extra 10” tail from the beginning of the process? Lay the fabric down, grab that bottom tail, and lay it flat.
- Now grab the top tail and lay it down on top of the bottom tail. It’s time to match these two ends evenly!
- Cut just a little of the extra fabric (maybe 1”?) from the top tail and open it up. Because you made your binding strip 2 ¼” wide, this little chunk is now a handy ruler.
- You’ll want the top fabric strip to overlap the bottom fabric strip by 2 ¼”(or whatever width you made your binding). Note: You can use a measuring tape for this if you’d rather, but it’s easy to take the 1” chunk of extra fabric and use it as a ruler, since it’s already the right width. Find right where the two tails overlap, measure 2 ¼” down, and cut off the excess fabric.
- Open the fold of the top strip so it’s flat.
- Open the fold of the bottom strip so it’s flat.
- Put the two strips so they’re perpendicular to each other, as we did at the beginning.
- Fold the top right corner to the bottom left corner and press with fingers.
- Open the fold and stick a pin along the crease. (Tip: Ask yourself what you want to keep and what you want to cut off! Thinking that way will help you remember which angle you want to sew and which part you’re cutting off.)
- Sew directly on that fold line.
- Cut off the extra fabric ¼” from the seam line and iron flat.
- Everything now should match perfectly! Sew the rest of the binding on your quilt with your ¼” seam allowance.
Finishing it Up
Now all you need to do is fold the binding to the other side of the quilt and, with a needle, tack it down with a quick slip stitch! (Be sure to use a matching thread.)
Watch Kim Christpherson’s binding demonstration at: