Back in the day, when I was young, we put bindings on quilts by bringing the back to the front and stitch. Cut, fold, and stitch! These didn’t really look very good and I’m embarrassed about them, but I didn’t really know any better. Now I do.
My favorite quilt binding is a double-fold binding made from bias strips. The two layers of fabric resist wear, and the bias has some give so it rolls over the edges of the quilt nicely. I think it simply looks better on a completed quilt.
So, I’m going to give you a little tutorial on how to simplify bias binding!
After quilting, trim excess batting and backing even with the edge of the quilt top.
1. To make bias binding strips, trim the selvage from both edges of the fabric with your rotary cutter and ruler.
2. Fold one corner of the fabric diagonally as shown. Align your ruler so that the 45° mark is parallel with the cut edge, and the long edge of the ruler is just inside the folded diagonal edge as shown. Trim off the fold.
3. Remove the large triangle and set side. Align your ruler along the diagonally cut edge to cut bias strips to your desired width (I make mine 2 1/4″).
4. Sew bias strips together offsetting them as shown. Press the seam allowances to one side.
5. Press the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and with raw edges aligned.
6. Cut the starting end of your binding strip so that it is square. Starting near the middle of one side, align the raw edges of the folded binding with the edge of the quilt top front. Leave a 5″ to 6″ tail of binding free. Using a 1/4″-wide seam allowance, sew the binding in place. Stop 1/4″ from the corner of the quilt, sew at a 45° angle to the edge of the quilt as shown.
7. Remove the quilt from the sewing machine. Miter the corner by folding the binding straight up and, away from the quilt, making a 45° angle along the fold. Fold the binding back down onto itself, even with the edge of the quilt top to create an angled pleat at the corner. Begin with a backstitch at the fold of the binding and continue stitching along the edge of the quilt top.
8. Continue around the quilt in the same manner, mitering each corner as you come to it. Stop sewing about 6″ to 7″ from where you started, and backstitch. Remove the quilt from the machine. Mark the end of the binding strip with a pin where it would meet the beginning tail. From the pin measure the same width of your binding, (in my case, 2 1/4″) and cut the binding at this point.
9. Unfold the binding strips on both ends and overlap the beginning tail with the end at a 90º angle, and then mark a diagonal line on the top strip from corner to corner as shown.
10. Sew on the line and then trim the seam allowance to 1/4″; press. Refold the binding in half and press. Finish sewing the binding in place.
11. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt. Using thread to match the binding, hand stitch the binding in place so that the folded edge covers the row of machine stitching. At each corner, fold the binding to form a miter on the back of the quilt.
To machine bind, simply sew the binding to the back of the quilt first, as described above, flip the binding to the front and sew with your machine.
I hope this helps you to be more confident in using bias binding! No more cut, fold, and stitch from the back!
Check out the entire Quilt Making Basics series!