So last year I participated in Amy Gibson’s “Sugar Block Club” through her amazing quilting blog, Stitchery Dickory Dock. Each month she would e-mail a new block and a delicious dessert recipe, hence the sugar part of the club. By the end of the year I had stitched up 12 beautiful blocks as seen here…
Instead of making a quilt out of them, I decided to make 4 table runners with 3 blocks incorporated into each. I just finished quilting the first of four and am so excited to put the binding on it. For those of you who aren’t quilting savy, a binding is the fabric you sew around the outside edge of your quilt or project to hide the layers of fabric you’ve been working on. Any quilting project consists of 3 layers: the top quilt, batting (fluffy inside filling), and the backing fabric. This “binding” we are talking about today is what hides the edge, otherwise every side of your quilt would be open like so…
Adding a binding to a quilt has always been my favorite part because it is like adding a frame to a beautiful piece of artwork. There’s just something about the binding that truly makes the project complete. I hope you find this tutorial helpful and if nothing else you can now sound super smart when using the word binding in everyday conversation…well…hopefully just crafty conversations!
- Fabric for binding (refer to step 1 to calculate how much you will need)
- Measuring Tape
- Fabric Scissors or Rotary Cutter
- 18″ x 24″ Cutting Mat
- 6″ x 24″ Ruler
- Hand Sewing Needle
- First, you need to measure the length of each of the 4 sides of your quilt/project and add them together. Mine is 42.5″ long x 15″ wide. The circumference of my table runner is (42.5 x 2) + (15 x 2) = 115″.
- Next, measure the length of the fabric piece you are wanting to use for your binding. My piece is 44″ long. So the way to calculate how many strips you will need to cut from your binding fabric is to divide the circumference of your project by the length of your binding fabric like so: 115/44=2.61. This means I need 2.61 strips cut from my fabric piece. Always round up to make sure you have enough fabric for your binding. I will be cutting 3 strips.
- Decide how wide you want your binding to be and multiply that width times 2 in order to cut your fabric wide enough to create the desired width. I typically like to have a 1″ binding all the way around so that means I need to cut my strips 2″ wide. Here are my strips all freshly cut:
- Sew your strips together to create 1 long strip. To do this, place two of your strips, right sides together, and use a 1/4″ seam to sew the ends closed. Continue doing so until all of your strips are sewn together.
- Iron your extra seam allowance open.
- Fold your strip in half lengthwise and iron down so that only the “right” side of your fabric is showing.
- When complete you will have 1 long strip ready to be stitched to your quilt project.
- To start, turn your project so that the backside is facing up. Place the raw edge of your fabric strip up against the raw edge of your project as shown. Make sure you do not start stitching your strip down right at the top of your strip. You want to leave a little room to finish the binding off for later so leave about 8″ of fabric unsewn to start. You will begin stitching, with a 1/4″ seam allowance, where I have placed the yellow pin in the picture below.
- Continue stitching down the side and then stop when you get about 1/4″ away from the first corner. Lift up your presser foot, and pull your quilt out away from your machine, leaving both threads attached as seen below:
- Lift up your binding strip so that it creates a 45 degree angle with the corner of your quilt.
- Pull the fabric down over the 45 degree angle and stitch down using your machine.
- Continue stitching all the way around, using steps 9-11 for each corner. Stop when you get about 2-3″ from where you began sewing your binding to the quilt.
- Lay both pieces down as if you were going to try to stitch the opening closed. Grab the two pieces at the center most point and make a line using a washable fabric marker. This will be where we stitch the two open pieces of binding together before sewing them down to the quilt.
- Sew along the line you created (blue line in picture above).
- Cut off the excess fabric to create a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Iron open and sew down to the your quilt.
- At this point your binding should be sewn around the entire outside edge of the back of your quilt.
- Now, it’s time to get out your handy dandy sewing needle and color coordinating thread. Put a few knots in the end of your thread, and place the other end through the eye of your needle. You can iron down your binding toward the front side to make it easier to stitch down or you can just fold it as you go (this is what I did!). The first stitch you want to make into your binding will be placed from the underside up through the crease as shown. (Note: You want to make sure your needle doesn’t go through the other side of your binding. My needle above is going through the underside and out the edge. It never pokes through the other side. This will hide that knotted tail of your thread.)
- Next, you will make sure your binding is folded down onto the front side of your quilt and prepare to make the first stitch. The first stitch will be directly underneath where your thread is protruding from the binding and will go inside the quilt and back up through the fold of the binding just a few centimeters down as shown below.(Note: You want to do your best at getting the needle right under your previous stitch so that it stays hidden. This is called a “blind stitch” for that very reason.)
- Continue making these stitches until you reach about an inch from your first corner.
- To see how much farther you need to stitch, fold your corner over kind of like you are wrapping a gift. It should create a nice 45 degree line from the corner to your quilt. Then, you will continue stitching like you did the whole way down the binding until you get to where that 45 degree angle meets the quilt.
- Continue your blind stitch up the 45 degree angle (you may get 2 more stitches in before you reach the corner). Once the corner is reached, bring your needle back down to where the angle meets the quilt as seen here.
- Pull your binding over onto the front of the quilt and continue the blind stitch down the next side of your quilt.
- Continue all the way around the quilt until you run out of thread. (This will happen on several occasions because it is too difficult to use one super long piece the whole way around). Once your thread runs out, tie off the stitch using the following method. Make a very short stitch in the same manner you’ve been doing. Instead of pulling your thread all the way through, wrap your needle through the loop twice and then pull closed.
- Snip off the tail and rethread your needle. Continue stitching the way we started in the beginning. Keep going all the way around the quilt until you reached your starting point. Finish your stitch utilizing step 24.