After you have completed your quilt top there are still three rather large tasks to complete before you have a quilt that’s ready for snuggling:
Today I’m showing you my method for binding my quilts that I’ve used for over ten years. It’s a machine binding and it’s very fast. As you know, I’ve been exploring the different methods of binding quilts, this is not part of that exercise. This is the same old method I always use. If you are waiting for the post I’ve promised about multiple techniques, it’s coming, I promise. There just hasn’t been enough completed quilts yet to give you that. Eek! Bear with me, I’m close.
But let’s get to the very common method that I’ve always used.
What is Binding?
Binding is the fabric sewn to the edge of your quilt to close up all three layers. There are many different methods and styles and we will go into on a later date. If you’ve never binded a quilt before, I think you’ll find today’s machine binding method the most easiest.
How Much Binding Do I Need?
Most quilt patterns tell you exactly how many and what size strips to cut. They even tell you the amount of fabric you need. Here’s the calculations that I use in case you ever find yourself coming up with the binding your own.
So you’ll add up all 4 sides and then add 10″ to that number. For example, If I’m making a 60″ square quilt, I’ll multiply 4 x 60 = 240″+ 10″ = 250″. So that’s what you need total length, but how many strips is that. Most fabric is between 42/44″, so I usually take my 250″ and divide that by 44. This gives me 5.68. I’ll round that number to 6, and that’s how many strips I need to cut for my binding. 2.5″ is the most popular width for binding, so for my 60″ square quilt, I’d cut (6) 2.5″ binding strips.
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How to Make Binding
The first thing you want to do is then remove all the selvedges. I usually do this right after I’ve cut my strips. I don’t move them, I just turn my cutting mat the opposite direction and then go ahead and lay my ruler across all the strips and cut off the selvedges.
After that, sew all the strips end to end. Now some fancy people like to miter their ends, but I don’t do that. I just sew them straight across. By mitering the ends it’s supposed to help hide the seam where the binding strips meet.
After you have them sewn together, you need take the whole length of binding to your ironing board and starting at the beginning, start folding the binding wrong sides together long ways and pressing. This sounds a bit tedious, but it actually doesn’t take that long. Once all pressed, I like to roll mine up into a little round honey bun looking bit for extra cuteness. It’s the little things, right? 🙂
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So we all like our own methods and usually think our methods is the best, but we’re also all different and just like what we like. It’s important not to sneer at the binding method of another. If I’ve used this method for ten years, I’m obviously a fan. I can tell you I don’t like the machine binding line along the perimeter of my quilt, but absolutely love the speed with which I finish my binding and the strength that machine binding gives my quilt.
I always sew my binding onto the front of my quilt and then fold it down and stitch on the back. Many, many quilters do the exact reverse of that, and it’s perfectly fine. All is just a preference. Try both methods and use the one you prefer the best.
Below is a video tutorial for how to machine bind a quilt beginning to end.
A few notes about the video: This is one of the videos that is part of my Patchwork + Make class, so it was created with the “true” beginner in mind. If you’ve been quilting for ages and want to better your skills at this particular step, it will be helpful for that, but there’s many parts in this video where I’m probably saying things that you most certainly already know.
If you are interested in this particular quilt pattern, it’s is a part of that class I linked to above.
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It doesn’t matter what thread color you use when you sew your binding onto your quilt on the beginning. It does matter when you sew it to close it up. Sewing your binding using the method I show you in the video means that I need my top thread to match my binding and my bobbin thread needs to match my quilt top. If you sew the opposite way to mine, then just reverse your threads.
When I first started quilting, I found binding to be the single hardest step, but like all things we do, it gets easier and easier until it becomes second nature. Within the next month, I’ll be showing you some more binding methods. I’m exploring all the ways of binding and I’m about 3/4 of the way completed. I cannot wait to show you!
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Janice Gillis says
Under your How to make Binding section you say to fold and press binding “right sides” together .., shouldn’t it be “wrong sides” together?
You are correct. Thanks so much for catching that for me. I’ve corrected it. 🙂
Ellen Carleton says
Hi, Melanie, how do you know when you come to edge to create the mitered corner, that you are stopping 1/4″ from the edge to turn the corner and keep sewing? There is probably a line on the needle plate of the machine to give you this, or else you just have to guess at the quarter inch. Guessing may make each mitered corner a little different. Any tips?
and thanks for showing me how to mark a longer 1/4″ line on the machine with what must be your “washy”? tape. Even the sewing shop didn’t have that suggestion. I didn’t want to draw on my machine with a Sharpie. I used scotch tape to mark the 5/8″ seam back in the 70s when I was sewing clothes. Now I’m not sure how to remove the old tape from my Featherweight without marring the paint finish.
Hey Ellen! I just eyeball the 1/4″ before the corner and stop. It would be better to get further away than closer though. 🙂
Ellen Carleton says
Thanks so much. I’ve wondered about that for years!