The last step to finish a quilt is to add the binding. The binding is what “seals” all three layers of the quilt together (top, batting, back). This step intimidates a lot of people, but not you my friend! Why? Because you have the power of the Internet and you found this tutorial!
As with everything in quilting, there are multiple ways to make binding and to sew it onto your quilt. If you’ve just made a quilt top, you’re probably wanting to just finish it already so you can move onto the next one. I know the feeling! With that in mind, I’m going to share the most beginner friendly, fastest way I know to get that quilt bound so you can cuddle with it!
This topic will be split out into three posts so I can give each part of the binding process a thorough explanation.
I’m going to show you how to make double fold binding, and we will be cutting width of fabric (WOF)strips to make the binding. If you’ve just made a Beginner Friendly Series quilt, like Weekend Vibes, you can go confidentially into the first step because you already know how to do this!
For the tutorial, we will be using 2.5” wide strips, which is the most common. Occasionally a slightly narrower or wider strip will be used depending on the look you want, but for now we’re keeping it simple.
The first thing you need to know is the amount of binding you will need for your quilt. Any pattern worth its salt will tell you this in the fabric requirements. If you’re not using a pattern, there are three ways to determine how much fabric you need and how many strips to cut.
Option A: Do the Math 🤢
Total length of binding needed = (Quilt length in inches x 2) + (Quilt width in inches x 2) + 12”. If your finished quilt top is 50” wide by 60” long, here’ what that will look like:
(50” x 2) + (60” x 2) + 12”= 232”
(The extra 12” is an insurance policy to make sure you have enough for the folds at the corners and joining the ends.)
Next, divide 232” by 42” (The standard usable width of fabric is 42”) to determine how many strips to cut.
232”/42”= 5.524 strips. Always round this number up, so in this case you’ll need 6 strips of fabric to make your binding.
Option B: Get a Cheat Sheet
Bobbie over at Geeky Bobbin has made a colorful cheat sheet that does the math for you. Head over to her website, download it, print it out and stick it to your wall!
Option C: Use a Quilting Calculator (The Lazy Method aka The Way I Do It)
Search for the Robert Kaufman Quilting Calculator in your App store, you’ll be glad you did. I use quite a few of the calculations it features.
Now that the math is done, cut the appropriate number of strips for your quilt.
Join the strips together to make one really long strip. To do this, place two strips perpendicular to each other as shown below, right sides together. Sew a diagonal line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner as shown. Repeat until all strips are sewn together.
Trim to a 1/4” seam allowance, which will also trim off those selvedge edges. Don’t forget to cut off the “dog ears” (last photo).
This is how I sew all the strips together without having to cut the thread after each pair.
Sew the first pair as described above, and then flip the other end of that second strip over so its facing right side up. Keep in mind that I’m using a batik (hand dyed fabric) in this photo, which looks the same front and back, just like a solid would. Now place the third strip over the top, right side facing down, and sew corner to corner just like the first pair. Sew off the end and repeat.
Press each of those diagonals seams open. Next, fold the binding strip in half, wrong sides together. Take your time to align the raw edges so the folded strip is nice and even.
I like to wrap the folded binding strip around an empty thread cone, but you can use whatever is handy. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even pretty for that matter!
Coming next… How to attach the binding to your quilt. Stay tuned!