The final step to completing a quilt is the binding. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, but in this tutorial I will show you how I bind a majority of the quilts I make. If I were making an heirloom quilt or a show quilt, I would alter the directions slightly, which I will explain later. But for most of my quilt making, this method provides room for creativity as well as simplicity.
The first thing I need to know is much binding I will require. To arrive at this number, I measure the perimeter of my quilt. To that number I add about ten (10) inches for the little extra I will need at the corners and at the finishing seam.
Next, I must decide how wide a binding I would like for my quilt. Personally, I like a 3/8” finished width, so I cut my binding strips 2 1/4” wide. (2 ½” wide if the batting is thicker). I always use French or double layer binding, so the 2 ¼” width accounts for this.
Now I must decide whether I want bias or straight-of-grain binding. I would choose a bias cut if my corners were rounded or my edge scalloped. However, if my quilt is a square or rectangle, more often than not I will choose to cut my binding on the straight grain of the fabric.
The theory goes like this: threads that crisscross the edge of a quilt (bias cut binding) are stronger than threads running north and south (straight-of-grain cut binding). You must decide for yourself. Since I always use double layer binding, I don’t lose any sleep over the issue.
If the choice is straight-of-grain cut binding, an easy way to know how many strips to cut is to think in terms of forty (40) inches. That’s about how much width you can count on from your fabrics if cut from edge to edge. Divide forty (40) into your measurement and the result is the number of strips you will need. (Round the result off to the higher number.)
So here’s the formula:
Length of binding needed (inches) : 40 (width of fabric) = number of strips to cut
After I cut my strips I must join them to each other. Normally, I make the diagonal cuts at the ends of the strips and turn them right sides together. Stagger the edges so that there are 1/4″ rabbit ears on each side of the seam line. Then sew a quarter-inch seam.
Another easy way to accomplish the same thing is to square the ends, turn the strips right sides together and cross the ends, forming a right angle. Then sew from edge to edge as shown in the diagram below. Trim, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. You may find this method easier than the one above.
With one long continuous strip of binding now in hand, I take it to the ironing board and fold in about 3/8” at one of the diagonal ends of the binding strip and press it in place.
I then begin folding the binding in half and pressing, wrong sides together.
My binding is now complete.
If I’m not quite ready to begin sewing it to my quilt, I like to wrap it around a tube for storage. This keeps the fold crisp and the binding tidy.
In part two of this tutorial, I will show you how I apply binding to my quilts.