Easy to make binding in whatever print you fancy……

Making your own binding for edging a quilt isn’t hard and it means you can chose exactly what colour and print you want rather than the need to rely on what you see available in the shops.

Although I use pre-cut vintage binding on many projects (such as trimming the sleeve and collar edgings on dresses) I always prefer to make my own binding for quilting.  I’ve got a couple of those brilliant little binding gadgets that you slide the cut fabric through (all the time my fingers seem to be attempting the dance of death as they avoid steam from my iron) and use that when I’m edging pot holders or tea cosies….but I don’t use them for bed or lap quilts because I prefer my binding for those to be doubled.

The edge of a quilt can get a lot of wear and tear, and if you’re making something that hopefully will be treasured and passed on through the family, then over the years it’s going to have a lot of hands touching it (quilts by their very nature are such tactile things that you need to imagine all the scrunching and cuddling it’s going to get).  Doubling the binding means you have an extra layer of protection around your quilt (it’s always possible to re bind a quilt but that isn’t the easiest of chores and I think it makes more sense to use a little more fabric in the first place.)

Anyway, I thought I’d show how I make my binding (this was the way my friend Alison patiently showed me many years ago)…you don’t really need any fancy equipment, though if you have one of those long transparent gridded rulers and a rotary cutter and cutting mat, hoorah…but I’ve made binding with a wooden ruler, pencil, and a pair of fabric shears before and it came out fine….


cut strips of fabric


First of all measure the top and side of your quilt, then double that measurement.  The binding has to go all the way around your quilt.  Then add another 15 inches for turning the corners and to make sewing the two ends together a bit easier.

Press your fabric so it’s as wrinkle free as possible, and then with a long gridded plastic ruler or yardstick , draw a straight line from top to bottom.  Measure along the width of your binding 2 1/4 inches (it’s about 5.5cm….most quilting equipment comes from America and so is marked up in inches which means it’s easier to think in “old money” rather than new) and then either cut with a rotary cutter or draw another line (and cut later with fabric shears)….cut and draw as many lengths of binding as you need.

For my example, my quilt is 30 inches wide and 40 inches long, so that is 30 + 40 x 2 (140) plus the extra 15 inches, which is 155 in total.

The fabric being used for binding is 45 inches wide so when I cut my strips they will each be 45 inches long (and 2 1/4 inches wide) so 1 strip is 45 inches, 2 strips will be 90, 3 strips will be 135 and 4 strips will be 180 inches.  So I need to cut 4 strips. It seems like there is going to be a lot of binding left, but each time you join the binding lengths you are using up some of that extra length allowance before you even begin to work any corners.


place at right angels and mark up corners


When the strips are all cut, lay one right side up and then lay a second one on top at a right angle.  (I have a little 4 1/2 inch square gridded ruler which I find invaluable* for measuring small pieces like this)……..then draw a 2 1/4 inch square on the top fabric and a diagonal line running from bottom right to top left hand corner)


pin the pieces together


Pin the two pieces of fabric together.

(I always seem to use a lot of pins but it’s important the fabric doesn’t shift around)


sew the two pieces together


Sew along the diagonal line, starting and ending with a couple of over stitches.  I rarely make a knot when I’m sewing patchwork and find a couple of over stitches makes for a neater and secure start and finish.



open out and gently press the seam flat


Open out the two pieces of fabric and gently press open with a hot iron.


open and gently press out


When you look at it from the front you will have a nice straight edge top and bottom to the joined binding.


trim the sides


Trim the sides of the binding to a generous 1/4 of an inch.


press the seam about quarter of an inch


Now with a hot iron (and avoiding steaming your finger tips where possible) press over the top edge of your binding about 1/4 of an inch.  If you don’t want to judge by eye then by all means draw a line 1/4 of an inch away for the top edge and then carefully press along that.


now press in half


Now bring the bottom edge of the fabric up to the pressed over top edge, and then carefully press along the bottom.

Your binding should now measure 1 inch wide, and have a 1/4 of an inch flap inside one edge only.

When you use binding gadgets they create a flap on both sides and that is not what you are going for here.

Carefully wrap your binding round your hand and fold it up (secure with a piece of ribbon or wool) and you are all set now to start sewing the binding to your quilt.

If you need to calculate how much fabric to buy to make your binding then I’d measure the quilt and write out the length required on a piece of paper.  Generally speaking fabric bolts are about 45 inches wide (which for your binding is measured as the length), and you know the binding needs to be 2 1/4 inches each section.   So for my example I’d need a piece of fabric that was cut wide enough for 4 x 2 1/4 inches (which is 11 inches).  Depending where you are buying your fabric from, some shops may happily cut a piece 12 inches or a foot wide for you, however, if you’re buying on line then this won’t be an option so you will want to buy a piece that is about 20 inches wide (this is sold as either half a metre or as two joined fat quarters**)…..you’ll have some leftover but as all quilters know, leftovers soon find new homes in other projects.

* and I’m writing down all the pieces of equipment that I find really helpful when I’m sewing patchwork or making a quilt so will post that in a few days.

**if you’re buying on-line you might want to check how the fabric is sold, a few companies only sell fat quarters which is great for patchwork but bit wasteful if you are making a lot of binding.  For smaller projects, like a cat quilt,  then a thin quarter (10 inches wide) may well be enough.


12 thoughts on “Easy to make binding in whatever print you fancy……

    1. Basically it makes a nice line to sew along and then as you turn the rest of the binding over to sew onto the back, the fold gives the turn a crisper edge. There are 4 more posts on binding to follow which should explain every stage clearly (I’m just trying to write them with out waffling on too much) x

      1. Thank you. I just bound a quilt the old fashioned way this morning, though I did two colors to match the quilt which fades from white at the top to navy at the bottom. So I matched the binding to each side white on top, navy on the bottom, with the white tucked into the navy and sewn down. That was the first way I learned to do bindings! I’ll have pictures, but not until after I gift it in July. Thanks for the techniques, I am always looking to improve.

      2. Originally quilts weren’t bound as we know today, instead the fabric from the border was tucked underneath, same as the fabric on the back and then it was carefully sewn together along the edge with a tiny running stitch. This is the technique used on some of the oldest quilts in collections. Another traditional way was to trim away the wadding or batting, making sure to leave a 2 inch section of backing cloth, then fold that in half and bring it over to the front where it’s neatly sewn into place.
        I think it’s always interesting to see how different techniques are used. This was the way I was taught to bind and just thought that was how everyone did it, but then my sister told me she bound hers differently (think she folds the binding n half at the start and so when she goes round back stitching it in place she is sewing through two layers of binding. Is that the technique you yourself use?)….your two coloured binding sounds amazing xx

      3. Thank you for explaining the first method, I didn’t know how that was done. My Mother, who sews huge numbers of charity quilts with her church group, does the second both for those quilts and for some she does for the family. I have tried it, but found it not to be as pretty a finish, in my opinion. Usually, I match up the two tails of binding and make a bias join, then sew that down (so no double binding. I do always do the double fold at the beginning, but have the binding tool and was going to try to make the one when both edges are turned in and only a single layer of fabric goes along the edge. For my two color binding, I just tucked the white binding into the blue and sewing it down. This was the first way I learned to do it, but I do not like the bulk. The two colored binding looks wonderful. The idea came from another blogger whom I will link to when I post.

      4. Wow, I just realized that you hand sewed your binding on! Impressive! I had forgotten that method to do corner, it is similar to what I do, but I fold it over farther. With the hand stitching, I now understand why you press that 1/4 fold. VERy cool indeed.

      5. Yeah, I’ve got three sewing machines and one dusty over locker but I much prefer hand sewing. All the patchwork for the quilts was sewn by hand too.
        When I’ve got some time I want to show how the other bindings are worked x Your compliments are much appreciated 🙂

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