This week we’re going to talk about adding a machine-done binding to finish you project. Next week we’ll finish by talking about hand-done bias-binding. Pick whichever option works best for you!
A neat binding makes the quilt look professional, crisp and finished. It can also provide a cute ‘frame’ for the design. When I first started quilting I was so intimidated by the thought of adding a binding to a quilt. I was amazed (and stoked) when I learned how easy they are.
First you are going to trim the excess batting and backing fabric from your quilted project. Use a rotary cutter and your ruler to have a neat, square edge.
Next cut you binding strips: Four 2 ½” wide (x width of the fabric) strips will be just enough to bind your baby quilt. [To find the amount of strips you will need for a bigger quilt, find the measurement of the perimeter of your quilt. Divide that number by 42 – for the roughly 42″ of the width of the fabric – and cut that number of strips. For example: if your quilt measures 55″ x 80″ find the perimeter: 55+55+80+80=270. Divide 270 by 42 = 6.4286. Because the number is bigger than 6 you will need 7 2 ½”x42″ strips to have enough to go all the way around. Does that make sense?]
Trim the selvage edges off you strips.
Sew the strips together end to end to create one long strip. Press seams open. Fold strip in half lengthwise and press.
Starting towards the center of one side (you don’t want you ends to join near a corner – makes it a lot trickier) pin the raw edges of your pressed strip to the raw edges of the BACK side of the quilt.
When you get to the corner you are going to miter the corners. To do this fold the strip up at a 45 degree angle when you reach the corner of the quilt. Put a pin in at a 45 degree angle to hold that corner in place. Then fold the strip down to match the raw edges with the next side of the quilt. The fold should line up with the edge of the last side you were pinning to. You will have a little triangle that sticks up – place another pin at a 45 degree angle on the other side of the little triangle flap.
When the strip gets back around to the beginning fold the ends down so that the strips meet-up. Press with your iron to make a crease at both folds. Trim strips to about ¼” away from fold. Pin together and sew seam right on the press marks of both strips. Press seams open and voila – a perfectly joined binding!
Now sew the binding to the back of the quilt with a ¼” seam allowance. (If you have a walking-foot feature on your machine, I recommend using it here.) When you get to the corner stop your seam about ¼” away from the end of that side. Lift the presser foot and rotate the quilt in the new direction, putting the triangle flap the other direction start sewing from the beginning of that side. (I know this feels strange and confusing at first, but trust me, it works and makes a nice crisp mitered corner!)
When all four sides are sewn to the back of the quilt, fold the folded edge of the binding to the front of the quilt and pin in place. Mitered corners should fall into place. It’s like magic. Pin abundantly to keep the binding in place in preparation for machine sewing. I would even recommend pressing to help hold that binding in place.
Using either a matching thread or an invisible thread (good if you don’t want your stitching showing as much on the back of the quilt) carefully stitch the binding down working from the FRONT of the quilt. Carefully pivot the needle when you get to the corners and continue sewing all the way around the quilt. This is a time I would suggest back-stitching at the start and finish.
You’re done and you’ve got a crisp, professional looking binding on the edge of your quilt. The double fold layer of fabric will also provide extra durability and longevity to the quilt. The one drawback of putting on a binding with the machine is that it’s difficult to control what the stitching looks like on the back (another reason to use a busy backing fabric.) If you’re not too picky about where the stitches end up on the back, it’s still a great way to finish a binding quickly.
Up Next on our Quilt Along Series: we’ll get a little more advanced discussing other binding methods and quilt washing and care. See you then!
Amy Smart likes her family, fall, and fish tacos. She blogs about making quilting cool at Diary of a Quilter.