Binding, For Beginners, Modern Mini QAL

Binding Your Quilt (by machine, or by hand)

Welcome to the last installment of my basic “make a mini quilt” series! This is when we bind our mini quilt. For this tutorial, I am showing how I do all-machine applied binding as well as how to hand-stitch the binding to finish.

I prefer to cut my binding on the bias of the fabric. This is only due to the fact that my mom taught me this way, and I like the way it looks.
To cut a bias binding, fold your fabric in half on the diagonal, forming a 45 degree angle at the corner. Line your ruler up with the folded edge and cut a 2 1/4″ strip. Unfold the strip (now its actually 4 1/2″ wide) and cut it in half to make 2 bias strips that are 2 1/4″ wide. Return to the angled pieces of fabric left behind and continue cutting 2 1/4″ strips off the bias edges:

Sewing the strips:

the ends of the strips will be angled at 45 degrees. These ends/edges are straight-of-grain, making them easier to work with than a bias edge. Match up the ends that are angled in opposing direction, right sides facing they will form a right angle as shown above. 1/4″ of the point of each angled strip should overhang the edge of the other strip.
Sew along this angled end with 1/4″ seam allowance. When opened, it forms a straight strip. Press open.

Continue sewing strips together until it is long enough to go around the entire quilt.
Beginning at one end of the binding strip, fold it in half lengthwise and begin pressing with a hot iron, forming a sharp crease. Be very careful to only place the iron down on the strip, do not move the iron around or stretch the fabric.
Press the strip in half lengthwise

Sew the binding strip to the quilt:
After finishing the quilting, trim the quilt sandwich so that all three layers are straight around the edges and square up corners.

apply the binding strip to the edge of the quilt sandwich:

  •  on the back of the quilt for the machine sewn method,
  • on the front of the quilt for the hand-sewn method, (scroll down past machine method to find hand-sewn method)

with the raw (unfolded) edge of the binding lined up with the trimmed edge of the quilt. Place one pin to hold the strip in place, leaving a tail of binding loose. Begin sewing just below the pin, using 1/4″ seam.
Option: use a walking foot or reduce the foot pressure.

when you come to the corner: stop sewing with your needle down 1/4 inch from the edge. Lift your foot and pivot the quilt so that your sewing direction is now toward the corner, or at a 45 degree angle to the seam you just sewed. Sew to the corner and cut your thread.

As shown in the photo above, fold the binding strip up and away from the quilt at the same angle you just sewed to the corner.

Then fold it straight down. Now the raw edge of the binding strip is lined up with the adjoining edge of the quilt. You have turned a corner! Start sewing again at the corner and along that side of the quilt. Repeat for each corner.

Joining the two ends:
Once you have sewn all four corners and are approaching the place where you started the binding, stop sewing approximately 12″ from your start point. Back stitch to secure and cut the thread.

Measure the length of quilt remaining between the beginning and end of the binding (leave the loose tails of binding). My length was 11 1/2″.  Add 3/4″ to that and you get 12 1/4″. That is the length I need my two binding tails to add up to (this accounts for the seam allowance needed to sew the two tails together).
Trim one tail to roughly half the needed length. My first tail is 6″ (remember to cut it at the angle, just like it was originally). See below.

I need my second tail to be 6 1/8″ long. Lay the strip along the edge of the quilt, just like it will be sewn. Measure to 6 1/8″ and place a pin to mark the point. Pull the strip away from the quilt and use the 45 degree angle on a ruler to cut it so that the pointed end is at the pin:

*when you make this cut, make certain the angle of the second strip will match the angle of the first strip! They should form the 90 degree angle with right sides facing, just like when you sewed the original strips.
the two cut ends must be at opposing angles

fold the quilt in half, allowing the binding tails more movement. This makes it easier to match the angled ends and sew them without the weight of the quilt making the whole process too unwieldy. Pin the ends in place how they will be sewn (this is just like how you sewed the strips together to make the original binding strip):

Sew the ends together and finger press the seam open. Fold the strip in half again and it is now continuous with what you have already sewn. Begin again where you finished sewing the strip before and sew all the way to the beginning point.

Machine Method
Finishing the binding on the front of the quilt:

Bring the finished edge (folded edge) of the binding strip over the raw edge of the quilt sandwich to the front of the quilt. Ensure the machine stitching that first attached the binding strip is covered. Pin the binding in place as above. At the corners, the folded binding forms a 45 degree angle. Fold the binding of the adjoining side over top of the first side. This should form a mitered corner:

Once pinned, place the quilt under the presser foot of the sewing machine and lower the needle so that it is just at the edge of the binding strip. Carefully sew the edge of the binding down, keeping the stitching and the edge of the binding straight. Stop with needle down at the corners, pivot, and continue, removing pins as you go.

When you return to where you started, backstitch to secure the thread and you are finished!

Hand-Stitched Method
You have sewn the binding strip to the front of the quilt with the sewing machine. You will need a thimble, needle and thread to match your binding fabric.

Fold the finished edge of the binding strip to the back of the quilt, covering the raw edges of the quilt sandwich, pin in place:

at the corner, pin the first side down continuous with the rest of that side, then fold the adjoining corner over so that the edge of the binding forms a mitered 90 degree corner, pin:

thread your needle and knot the end. Make the first stitch first through the quilt backing fabric (not through to the front) and upward to catch the folded edge of the binding. Pull the knot through so it is buried inside the quilt.

continue making small stitches, only catching the very edge of the binding strip and never stitching through the quilt (stitches shouldn’t show on the front of the quilt).
At the corner, simply continue stitching, switching from one side binding to the other and securing the mitered corner:
continue all the way around the quilt, securing stitches each time you change thread by back-stitching before cutting thread.

A modern mini quilt!

Thanks for sticking with me through all that, hope it’s helpful to someone out there.


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9 thoughts on “Binding Your Quilt (by machine, or by hand)

  1. I didn’t see the earlier posts in your series, but this finish is gorgeous! Love the design – just wonderful!

  2. Michelle says:

    Thank you! This is the first binding tutorial that I can fully understand and feel that I can do it. You are awesome!!!

  3. Scorpie says:

    Wow, I see that I am late to the party. But I love all three of your tutorials. Gonna try to make this little gem.

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