Congrats! You've just quilted a quilt. You're probably already dreaming about your next one. Only thing is, you still need to bind that beauty!
If you've been putting it off, we feel you. Binding is one of those things that quilters love having done instead of actually doing. But let's all bite the bullet together, since binding isn't hard; it just takes a little extra push to get going. Once you're done, you'll feel awesome about the beautiful quilt you just made — AND finished.
Why Do You Need to Bind a Quilt?
Binding is a long strip of fabric used to neatly cover raw fabric edges. In a quilt, it’s used to cover the outer raw edges while holding the quilt top, batting and backing together. Binding happens after the quilt is already quilted and the edges are trimmed straight.
How to Bind a Quilt
You've made your quilt sandwich, basted and quilted (whew!), but you're not quite ready to bind yet. First, you need to square up.
Square Up the Quilt
If you have lots of excess batting and backing, start by trimming it down so it's manageable. Then use rulers for a more precise trim that leaves everything crisp and square. Large square rulers will guide you for the corners, while long, straight ones work best for the sides. Squaring up your quilt before you bind will make the process easier and ensure you don't end up with any puckers or waves in the finished edges, so don't skip this super important step.
Place Your Binding and Sew
This tutorial assumes you've already prepared your long strips of binding . Chances are, those long strips are made of smaller pieces seamed together, so a key step is aligning the the binding to the quilt to make sure those seams don't fall anywhere awkward — like right on a corner!
Lay your binding along the perimeter of your quilt to check out this alignment. If you discover any awkward corners, just move the binding up or down a few inches.
Once you're sure about placement, line up the raw edges of the binding with the edge of your quilt. The folded edge should be facing toward the quilt's center. You can pin it if you want, but at this stage you can probably just hold the binding in place as you stitch.
You'll start stitching 6 to 8" away from a corner, leaving a tail of 6 to 8" of extra binding to help you join up the ends later. Sew the binding onto the front of the quilt with ¼" seam allowance. Use a walking foot or even-feed foot if possible.
Make the Mitered Corners
When you get to a corner, stop stitching ¼" away from the edge.
Take the quilt off the machine and fold the binding up and away from the quilt, as in the image above. Keep the edge of the binding in line with the edge of the quilt.
Now bring the binding back down, creating a tuck of fabric underneath. This will form the miter on the front of the quilt.
Sew the Next Side and Repeat
Starting from the edge of the quilt, stitch the next side of binding down until you reach the next corner. Repeat this process for all four corners.
To make your mitered corners look extra-nice, snip off the very tip of each corner. The entire snip should be about ¼" across, and shouldn't come too close to your seams. This step ensures that when you turn your binding around to the back side of the quilt, you'll get nice, sharp corners without a lot of bulk tucked inside.
Join the Ends
Stop stitching about 6 to 8" before you reach where you started, and leave a tail of binding. Trim off the excess binding on each end at an angle, leaving some overlap to work with. For the best result, your binding strips should overlap each other by the same length that they are wide.
For instance, in the image above, the binding strips are about 2" wide when opened flat, so the correct overlap is 2". You can now open up the end of the binding and place the beginning tail inside of it, as shown above. Don't sew it down just yet: We'll show you a fancy joining technique to trim and sew the two ends of your binding to each other that creates a smooth finish.
Gently position your binding ends away from your quilt so you can work with them. Put the right sides of the the two tail ends together, and sew along the straight edge with ¼" seam. Finger press the seam open and re-position the binding around the quilt edge. You'll find you have a clean, continuous loop of binding!
Finish stitching the binding down on the front of the quilt.
Serge the Edges (Optional)
If you like, you can serge the edges of the binding at this point. This step is completely optional, but if you have a serger, it's a great way to make things even neater and tidier. If you choose not to serge, no worries – just skip to the next step.
Using your serger and the previously stitched line as a guide, finish the raw edge of your quilt binding. This will trim your quilt binding evenly and securely stitch all the fabric layers together in one easy step. You can use a four-thread overlock stitch with each of the four tension dials set to 4 (medium tension).
When you get near each of the corners, make sure to ease off before serging over the corner. Otherwise, you'll nip off the mitered corner of your binding on the other side.
With a serged binding that’s a little thinner than ¼", you should be able to neatly fold over and press your binding toward the back of the quilt for finishing, and you may not even need any pins or clips!
Turning the Binding and Securing It in Place
You're in the home stretch! Before you can make the final stitches to affix your binding to the back of your quilt, you'll need to turn it, press and secure in place. There are a few options for how to do this.
Many quilters swear by Clover Wonder Clips to secure a binding. For a throw-sized quilt, it takes about 100 clips to go all the way around.
If you don't have clips, try sewing pins . Make sure to point them away from the edge so you can easily remove them without poking yourself!
If you don't have pins or clips handy, feel free to grab some glue! While it's still wet, you can adjust the position of the binding so everything is lined up just right. (Don't worry about making a mess either: glue washes out!)
Spread a thin layer of regular craft glue or quilter's basting glue over 2 or 3" of the binding at a time, then finger press the binding to the quilt. Now, heat your iron and turn the steam off. Press the binding for a few seconds at a time to set the glue. It will feel slightly stiff when dry.
Finishing the Quilt Binding
Sewing By Hand
Put on your favorite show to binge-watch, and get comfortable. This process is pretty relaxing, but it takes a while. So just kick back as you do the binding by hand.
We recommend threading several needles using the same thread you used to sew on the binding. That way you can keep up your rhythm without pausing to re-thread. You can bind with a single thread if you like, or double up for extra durability.
Wrap the thread around the needle three times, and pull it to the end of your thread to create a quilter’s knot.
Tuck the knot underneath the binding. Now grab a bite of the backing of the quilt and then a bite of the binding to complete each stitch.
Continue stitching by bringing the needle in behind each previous stitch and pushing it out ahead of the last stitch. You may want to use a thimble to help push the needle through the fabric. Pull the thread slightly taut as you go.
When you get to the corners, make sure to sew them closed. Take a few stitches on the back to close the miter. Push the needle through to the front, stitch the front of the miter closed, then push the needle to the back again.
When you're near the end of a length of thread, make a knot. Then take a stitch through the backing and batting only, pop it through the backing and cut off the excess.
Continue until you’ve sewn down the entire binding!
Sewing With a Machine
If you want to save time, you can finish your quilt binding with your sewing machine instead of doing it by hand. As you'll see in these photos, you may find it easier to simply guide the fabric with your hands when sewing by machine, rather than using pins or clips. Glue is also a great choice here.
Use a bobbin thread that matches your quilt front and a top thread that matches the binding.
Begin stitching on any side, about halfway down one side of the quilt. Use your fingers to guide the binding just over top of the previous stitch line, so it completely covers that stitch line. Stitch until you're ¼" from a corner. Stop, backstitch and cut the threads.
Hold the quilt as you see in the image above. Use your fingers to press the corner down and to the right, and then fold it back on itself (to the left) to make a mitered corner. Pinch the miter in place as you carefully move the quilt back to your sewing machine.
Lower the needle directly into the mitered corner, where the binding fabrics meet. Backstitch, then stitch forward. Again, guide the binding with your fingers, making sure the binding completely covers the previous stitch line.
When you get to the last side of the quilt, sew slightly over where you started. Then backstitch to completely close the binding.