Binding A Quilt Using Traditional Methods


How to use the traditional method of binding a quilt using an extra piece of fabric and sewing it along the outside edge of the quilt.

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Binding A Quilt Using Traditional Methods

By Becky Jorgensen

Now, if there are any of you who have bound a quilt— I am betting there are — then you are aware that there are a few different methods to binding. You might think that the traditional bind is the only one out there, but girls– I think there are more! I consider the pillowcase sewing of a quilt 'binding'. Granted you aren't sewing anything extra along the edge, but when you are done and flip it right side out it has its own bind.

This article deals with the original method of taking an extra piece of fabric and sewing it along the outside edge of the quilt.

For your binding, you will need to cut a lot of strips that are 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 inches wide. If you are binding a thicker quilt, I recommend that you cut it the wider width so it can fold over all the bulk. For a table on how many strips you need for your size of quilt see the Binding Reference Chart in Related Articles.

Also there are some out there that just love a bias binding. That is a binding that has been cut at an angle instead of from selvedge to selvedge. This is wonderful if you are binding a quilt that has curves or rounded corners.

For a simple quilt that is straight, I don't really care. I just cut from selvedge to selvedge. There is also a theory that your binding will last longer if cut on the bias because- it makes the threads cross the edge and not run along the edge. Now that sounds great, but am I going to be around in 100 years when my straight cut bindings start to shred? Why worry about that now? Curves though- do the bias.

Binding a Quilt Using Traditional Methods


Ok, so cut your strips and sew the ends together so you have one monster long snake with 2 tails that gets stepped on when you are trying to move it. Iron it in half lengthwise.

Binding - Cut Your Strips


Take this snake and pin it to the edge of the quilt on the backside of the quilt. When you start, you want to leave a tail (unsewn) of about 4-6 inches. You will use this tail to join the other end. You are sewing this to the backside so it will be folded over to the right side.

I pinned just the beginning. After you get it going, you should be able to keep it on track and along that edge. Sometimes I find that the top fabric might shift a little and cause a pucker. That will be inside the folded binding, so as long as it isn't a huge one, just keep going.


Sew it along the outside edge all the way around. You want to stop about 6" or so before you meet the beginning, so you can join them.

Binding - Sew it along the outside edge


Now you have sewn all the way around and you have two tails to deal with (the start and the finish).

Binding - sewn all the way around


Take these two ends and lay them out flat and over lap them on top of each other. You need to pick a spot that you will be cutting on one. This should not be too close to the sewn ends or you will have some trouble with sewing the ends together. Cut the underneath tail and then overlap the top tail and cut to 1/4" past it. This is very important. You have to give it that seam allowance or your binding will end up too short.

Binding - Take The Two Ends


Open up the tails and lay right sides together. I lined them up straight. There is another way of sewing them perpendicular, but I prefer just to get it done. Sometimes the crossing, then folding, marking, then stitching and cutting is just too much. (hee hee)

Binding - Open Up The Tails


Turn it back out and lay it out onto the quilt edge. It should fit perfectly now. Finish stitching it to the quilt edge.

Then I take the quilt to the ironing table and iron this. Fold the binding over the edge like you are ready to finish and iron it down flat. So I am ironing on the backside of the quilt and pulling that binding up and over the stitching and ironing it there. I find this helps keep the sewn edge from rolling back, so when you are ready to sew it on the other side you won't fight it and the seam is not coming around.

When you fold the binding you need to make sure it passes the stitching line. That is where the backside will be folded and you don't want to catch the binding on the backside.


When it is folded over you will need to secure it somehow. Sometimes I use pins… I have heard of girls out there using—clip hair barrettes, paper binding clips, even 1/4" wide wonder-under on a roll. They hold it in that tiny space and it keeps it perfect and ready for stitching.

So fold, secure–fold, secure… keep going.

Binding - Fold And Secure


Now, for finishing it up.

I will be showing you how to machine bind it down. I find this the quickest method (you know me–quick and cheap). If you choose to hand sew instead, it can be done by skipping under the top layer of the quilt and then picking up just to take a little bit of the binding again and down into the top layer and skip along to the next spot. It does make it a more finished quilt edge, but if you are in a hurry, do machine binding instead.


Here is what the final stitching will look like:

Binding - Final Sititching


You will notice on the backside you will be just past or right in the ditch of the binding. I recommend using a coordinating thread so it does not stand out, because sometimes it will show on the backside of the quilt:

Continue stitching it all the way around and TA-DA You are finished!! Nice job girls.

Do any of you girls have some wonderful tips or hints to share? I'd love to hear them.


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The direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.

Same As: Cross-grain
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
Seam Allowance
The width of fabric left to the right of a sewn seam. In quilting this is traditionally 1/4 inch. For sewing garments it is usually 5/8 inch.
The outer edge of both sides of a woven fabric where the weft turns to go back across and through the warp. This is a stiffer and denser woven area of about 1/3-1/2 inch and is usually trimmed off and not sewn into a quilt.

Same As: Selvage
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