There are various ways of attaching binding to a quilt. This is a tutorial on how to make and attach Continuous Mitred Quilt Binding (not to be confused with bias binding).
Quilt binding is most commonly made from 2.5” (6.5cm) wide strips cut across the width of a bolt of fabric (wof), usually 44” (112cm). Quilt binding strips can be cut directly from a bolt of fabric, from a Jelly Roll (pre cut 2.5” strips x wof) or you could use up scraps which can be random lengths joined together, as long as they are 2.5” (6.5cm) wide.
Calculating how much fabric you need:
- To calculate how much binding you need to make, add up the dimensions from all 4 sides of your quilt (the perimeter) and add 10” (for corners and joining). (If you are using random lengths of scraps, skip to no.4.)
- Then divide this number by 44” (112 cm) (round up decimal places to whole numbers) to give you the number of complete 2.5” (6.5cm) strips you will need to cut from the bolt of fabric.
- Now that you know how many strips you need, multiply this number by 2.5” (6.5cm) to calculate the total amount of fabric/yardage you need for your binding.
Joining the strips:
When using striped binding fabric, simply join the short ends together using ¼” (6mm) seams, trying to pattern match as you join. Then skip to step 8.
- For non-striped binding fabric, mitre join all binding strips together as follows: Lay one strip down horizontally, right side facing up. Take another strip and lay it vertically over the end of the first strip, right side facing down. Make sure all the right angled edges are meeting.
- Using a pencil or chalk pen, draw a line diagonally from the top left corner of the top strip down to where the underneath strip ends. Pin and sew along this line (see picture in step 4).
- Trim off the excess allowing a ¼“ (6mm) allowance and iron the seam open. Join all the strips in this way, making sure you don’t get any twists in the strips.
- Now that you have one continuous length of binding, iron it in half lengthways, wrong sides together. If you are not immediately sewing your binding onto your quilt, store it by wrapping it around a piece of cardboard and secure the end with a pin.
Sewing on the Binding: Use a 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance
- Starting from the front of the quilt choose one of the longest sides. Place the binding on the edge of the quilt, raw edges to raw edges. Leave a length of binding unsewn, approx. 10” (25cm) before starting to sew.
- When you come to a corner, stop sewing 3/8” (1cm) short of the end, lift the needle up and gently turn the quilt 90 degrees anti-clockwise. Pull the quilt slightly towards you. You can either snip off the thread or keep it attached, whatever is easiest.
- Flip the binding strip up & away from you, keeping it in line with the outer edge of the quilt. You should have created a 45 degree fold in the corner.
- Finger press this and carefully bring the binding strip back down so that it is at right angles again with the top and side edges of the quilt corner. The mitre fold should not now be seen underneath the mitred corner.
- Return the quilt under the needle and resume sewing from the new top edge of the binding.
- Continue sewing the binding on in this way until all edges and 4 corners are sewn. Stop sewing before you reach the start of the binding, leaving an 8” (20cm) gap between the starting and finishing stitches. You should have a length of lose binding at the start and at the end. Remove the quilt from the machine.
- Join the binding ends: Place the quilt flat on a table with the unjoined binding pieces at the top. Make sure the end of the starting strip (on the right) is in the gap (you may need to trim a little off the starting strip to achieve this). Lay the left hand strip over the top of the right hand strip, but you still want to see the end of the right hand strip.
- Measure & mark 2 3/8” (6cm) overlap (for non-striped fabric) or 0.5”/1.5cm (for striped fabric), from the end of the starting strip, along the top strip. Cut along this mark removing the excess binding.
- Now mitre join (non-striped fabric) the ends of the 2 strips in the same way as before (see steps 4-6). For striped fabric straight edge join the ends using 1/4″ (6mm). Finger press the seam open.
- When you open out the quilt, the unsewn part of the binding should now fit exactly the remaining unsewn length of the quilt. Return to your machine and complete the attaching of the binding, starting and ending with a reverse stitch.
- Gently press the binding up so that it folds fully over to the back, covering the stitching line. Hand or machine sew down the binding. (Machine sewing down binding involves ‘stitching in the ditch’ from the front side. The binding corners at the back must be mitre folded before stitching down. Refer to my tutorial on Quilting in the Ditch here.)