Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:
Binding Basics

Binding isn't everyone's favorite part of quilting, but I must admit that I don't mind the process. Not that it was always the case. I have made binding several different ways over the years. I began just cutting strips, but did not sew them on the diagonal and found the bulk at the seams a problem. Then I found out about the tube method and used it for a long time. Now, I prefer to just cut crossgrain strips. Often, I use up the scraps from the quilt, which may or may not all match.

I always struggled with the proper width to make, too. I prefer double fold bias edges. If I intend to have a 1/4" binding based on the expected seam allowance of the quilt edge, then it seems logical that the quilt would require a 1-1/2" strip. When this is folded, it leaves 3/4" for the seam and turning to the back. Whenever I made this width of binding, I struggled to cover the seam on the back and would have to trim my seam allowance. I tried making a narrower seam, but this did not help. Currently, a 2" to 2-1/4" strip works best. I have no trouble turning the edge and it is not too snug, so as to cause fraying after only a little wear.

The second binding issue that always arose was connecting the two ends after attaching the binding to the quilt. I either made the ends too short to stitch the final seam easily, laid the two strips in the wrong direction causing the binding to be twisted, or turned the corners with either too much or too little fabric causing a round or pointed corner. Connecting the entire binding strip and laying it out on the quilt requires repeated measuring to ensure it is the correct size. However, I have also found that just pinning it along the edge and stitching can cause a wavy binding. Just as borders are cut to fit the finished measurements of the quilt center to keep the quilt squared, so must the binding be measured to maintain the straight edge. Just as the measured borders are centered, so the binding will attach more squarely if it is divided into the side measures. The best binding that I have attached was made by measuring the circumference of the quilt and making the binding just that finished length plus about 1/4" for easing the corners. I have finally mastered connecting the ends without twisting the binding on itself. And, my stitches are small, secure and well hidden.

If you have ever entered a quilt into a judged quilt show, the responses by the judge will often cause you to look closer at your quilting process to make improvements. Binding was one of those judged responses for me. My corners were not square. My stitches were not evenly spaced. My stitches were too far apart. Some quilters would just brush off the responses, or more likely, not enter a quilt in a judged show. I prefer to take the responses and use them to try and perfect my quilting. Not that I will ever be perfect, but I certainly can try.

I do not subscribe to knowing everything about binding, but feel that my finished edges have improved over the years. Happy Binding!

Offer your comments on your best binding tips.

Published Thu, Aug 11 2011 9:53 PM by Pamela

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# re: Binding Basics@ Sunday, December 30, 2012 4:48 PM

I am a beginner, any video or books you can suggest to help me really understand binding.  I am really looking for basic how to.  I tried on 2 quilts but the corners were not done right at all.  Most of the quilts I have done I have not used binding just turned inside out and sewn together then once together quilted.  (if that is clear)


# re: Binding Basics@ Saturday, November 9, 2013 7:36 AM

I too am a beginner. I have been working on Log Cabin Blocks and the one thing I can not seem to get down is the binding of the Quilt. I wish I could take a class just on that. I have watched 10 videos on it and know how to make it, it is just that everyone has a different way to do it when it comes to machine or hand stitching.