The last stage in making a quilt is adding the binding to your quilt sandwich. Lots of people find this daunting because of the need to make neat mitred corners – but it’s actually quite straightforward once you know how.
Step One- choosing your binding fabric
You can make this a contrasting fabric to the quilt, use the same fabric as the backing fabric – or use up some of the leftover fabric scraps from the quilt itself. Being fairly new to quilting myself I’ve only made two quilts so far – but have tried once with a different fabric and once with leftover scraps.
If you decide to make your binding with leftovers from the quilting fabric, you’ll need to sew these together to make a continuous strip. You can repeat these in a fixed pattern or do it randomly depending on the amount of fabric you have available.
How to calculate the amount of binding fabric
Measure all round the perimeter of the quilt and add on a safety allowance of about 15 cm or 6 inches. Thus if you have a quilt that measures 60 inches square that’s 60 inches x 4 = 240 inches plus 6 = 246. Take your fabric and cut it into strips 2½ inches wide that totalled together will be 246 inches. If you are buying new fabric you’ll need to allow for the width of the fabric – (most fabric is 42-44inches wide usually) and divide your total length by this – e.g. 246 ÷ 42 = 5.9 and multiply this by the 2½ inches of your strips = 15 rounded up, meaning you’ll need a piece of 44 inch fabric that is 15 inches long – or just under 40 cm – so you’ll need a half metre of fabric.
If all this sounds too complicated, you can always take your quilt along to your nearest quilting shop and get them to measure up for you. In any event when choosing binding I’d recommend taking the almost finished quilt with you so you can check the fabrics against it.
Preparing the binding
Cut your strips and join these together to make one long continuous strip. Iron the seams open then fold the fabric in two along the length wrong sides together, and press it with an iron.
Attaching the binding
Don’t start at the corner. Instead start to attach the binding about 6 inches beyond one of the corners. Leave about a quarter of an inch of fabric free before you start machining. This little extra bit of loose fabric can be tucked into the other end when you have bound the rest of the quilt. Place the raw edge of the double thickness fabric against the edge of the quilt and machine in place, using a quarter inch seam allowance.
Make a small mark or place a pin ¼inch from the corner – this is where you’ll stop sewing in order to make the mitred corner. When you get there back stitch and finish.
Mitring the corners
Fold the binding back down again at right angles but this time in the direction of the next side so that you are doubling back over yourself. Line up the edge of the binding fabric with the edge of the quilt along the next side.
Machine sew in place along the next side and continue to the next corner and repeat. Continue in this way until all four corners have been mitred. Continue machining until you reach the beginning of the binding. Allow a little bit of extra fabric before cutting off any excess and tuck this into the end of the binding so you get a neat finish. Afterwards you can hand sew the open edges in place.
Attach the binding to the back of the quilt
Sit back and admire your handiwork – your quilt is finished at last!
If you like to see things on video there’s loads on Youtube – but of quite variable quality. I’ve found one that not only shows you how to mitre , but also shows you how to make your continuous binding with all the joins mitred. It’s also very clearly explained and without the interruptions that so many quilting videos contain – like cheeping budgies and wandering cats! Continuous Quilt Binding
Looking for lovely fabrics for your quilt? Have a peek in our online shop. We have some gorgeous fabrics and you can buy by the quarter – so they’re perfect for quilting.