Posted in Tutorials

Binding Tutorial: Step Two

You thought I was going to post step one, and then forget to ever post a step two, didn’t you…Sounds like me. But nope, I got your back. So although step one was (mostly) optional (you still need to trim your quilt if you didn’t serge the edges), you should read step one first.

You will also need to create your binding. I always cut my binding at 2 1/2 inches, and all the measurements I use in this tutorial are based on 2 1/2 inch binding strips. I do this primarily because I can find pre-cut 2.5 inch strips if I want to save time, and I can use the leftover strips or even just 2.5 inch squares that are leftover from the binding for lots of things. Here’s a quick how-to on creating your binding.

  1. Cut your fabric into 2.5 inch strips along WOF (width of fabric…from selvedge to selvedge) –if the need ever arises, you can also cut strips along length of fabric or cut bias binding strips, but that’s not what I typically do because I want to make the most economical use of my fabric in general.

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2. Sew them together end to end, where you’re sewing the ends perpendicular, at a 45 degree angle. This disperses the bulk of those seams along the binding.

3. Trim off the corners of those seams, leaving only a quarter inch seam allowance, and fold the binding lengthwise, pressing mightily with a hot hot iron. I like to wind it around an empty spool as I press it to keep it neat and tidy, and tightly pressed.

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Now that you have your binding, you will start stitching it down to the front of your quilt, with the raw edge about 1/8 inch away from the edge of your quilt. (With my serged quilt edges, I just make sure about 1/2 of the serged up stitches are showing.) Start at a corner, leaving just an inch or two extra off the corner. Remember, I prefer my method of binding primarily because there is so little wasted binding and only two such small tails, the one here, and the one at the end, that will be connected to this one.



So this is what my first stitches look like. I have left just a 1-2 inch long tail, and I’ve started stitching 3/8 inches down from the top quilt edge, and 3/8 inches in from my quilt’s right edge (the 1/8″ of edge that is showing + the 1/4″ of binding that one typically uses as a seam allowance). I measure this 3/8 inch at every corner, so I keep a tiny ruler nearby, and a frixion pen to mark it. I back stitch after my first stitches to secure that corner.
At the next three corners, I mark 3/8″ from the next edge of the quilt, and sew to that point, back stitch, and cut my thread. I then use a little mitered corner clip tool (pictured), but this is just for accuracy. This is the same corner folding method that countless binding tutorials use. I am folding the binding back over on itself, then out along the next edge at a 90 degree angle, leaving a 45 degree fold in the binding right at the corner. Then I start my stitching again right over that fold.

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When I get to the final corner, this is the only place where my binding is a little different then most. I use the no tails binding method (demonstrated with remarkable clarity in this tutorial from Flourishing Palms) on this final corner, leaving me with a stitched up mitered corner (the other three corners are just folded) and no tails to connect or stitch down.

At the final corner, I mark my 3/8″ from the bottom as I approach, then back stitch my final stitches up to that mark.


I trim off my binding, leaving that same tiny tail that I started with, just 1-2 inches. If all your measurements were correct, your first stitch and last stitch should be essentially on top of one another.


Now I fold the corner of my quilt in half (45 degree angle) so that my two binding tails are back to back and all aligned.


I use my little ruler and frixion pen to mark a line from the folded edge of my binding down to my first/final stitch. This line is perpendicular to the stitch line.


Then I use that line I just marked as the bottom of a right triangle that I am about to draw. With my measurements, I line the corner of my little ruler up so that each end of the line is at 5/8″ on the ruler. Then I trace the corner of the ruler to create my right angle.


It sounds so complicated and brainy when I put it this way, but the first line you drew becomes the hypotenuse of your right triangle. Yay geometry!!!

Then you simply stitch along that right angle. Back stitch at the beginning and end, this becomes your stitched mitered corner. Trim off to leave just a little seam allowance.

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Use a sharp, pointy tool (a knitting needle, a chopstick, an actual point turner) to turn that corner you just stitched inside out. Voila!

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Stitched up mitered corner. (Edit: this photo and the way the star print fits make this look like a super jagged line. It is not. It is just yer average 45 degree corner seam) And you are all prepared for Step Three.

Posted in Quilts, Tutorials

Machine Binding Tutorial: Step One (optional)

Yesterday was a huge binding day for me. This year has been an incredibly productive one for me, as far as quilt making goes, and I think a key to this has been the systematic approach I’ve ironically just stumbled into. I spend a few days just cutting the fabrics for several quilts that I have planned. I spend a few more days just piecing those together. This week, I spent all of Saturday just cutting and adding borders to 3 different quilts. Then I get my machine all set up and foot swapped out for my free motion foot, and spend an entire day (or 2…or 7) just quilting all those quilts.

This has worked out so well because I’m just changing out my thread and bobbin color on quilting days and for each particular quilt. I get so much more piecing done when I can keep the white cotton thread and bobbins going, no changes.

So today was a binding day. And since I don’t know anyone who does their binding the same way I do, I figured this was a good opportunity to post a tutorial. First tutorial!

I exclusively machine bind (I don’t hand bind. I know a lot of quilters have attitude about that, but I simply feel no shame in my game), and I use a combination of the no-tails binding method (see this excellent tutorial by Flourishing Palms for a detailed look) and the more typical folded corners method. The traditional (with tails method) has always bothered me because it requires you to leave an additional 10-15 inches of binding loose before you start stitching, and then you lose most of that when you attach the tails together at the end of your binding. The no-tails method only uses an extra inch or two at each corner, which is better, and easier, IMO. But the way I do it, I only need an extra 2-3 inches of binding. So much less waste. And you get one stitched up mitered corner, and three folded over mitered corners. It’s hard to explain. Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who does their binding the same way that I do. This does NOT mean my way is superior. But I dig it. So I’ll show you.

Today, I’ll show you step one, which is a completely optional step, really. But I’ve started doing it, and I highly recommend it. I serge all the way around the perimeter of my quilt sandwich using my Brother Serger. Not everyone has a serger, and for quilters, they are completely unnecessary. But I happen to have one because it’s fun and easy to make and mend baby hats and tshirts and blankets. It’s also nice to be able to quickly mend all the clothing in my home with no loose edges to get frayed in the laundry. You know I’m not hand washing ANYTHING, right?

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Although completely unnecessary, if you have one, this is yet another fun use for it. Serging the quilt sandwich tightly connects all three layers so that when you stitch your binding on, your backing can’t fold over and get caught up, and your batting can’t wiggle its way out and make you miss your backing in the stitches. Also, if it takes you awhile to bind your quilts, they are protected from fraying while they sit around in the queue, and if there is some sort of emergency (an incident involving cat vomit comes to my mind, but i’m trying to forget) you can wash that quilt before it’s bound, and it will survive.

You will need to trim the edges of your quilt sandwich at some point anyway, so this just does that for me. The serger winds thread around the perimeter of the quilt, sealing in its quilty juices, and cuts off anything to the right of this thread web with its helpful blade. So I simply run each quilt through, one edge at a time, with the metal line of my serger foot (shown at the bottom of the lightning bolt in photo) directly aligned with the edge of my fabric. Where fabric meets batting. If you’re a little off, it doesn’t matter too much, as you’ll see in the next steps. I’m very imperfect at all of my steps.

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I cut off the thread tails at each corner and that’s it!

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Look at that delicious stack of serged quilts! They are ready and waiting for step 2.