In Week 8 of our T-Shirt Quilt Sewalong, it’s finally time to finish and bind our quilts!
First, a few notes about choosing a binding fabric. I use quilting cotton for the quilt in this tutorial, which is the most commonly used material for binding and probably the easiest to work with. As far as color choices go, the sky is the limit. My backing fabric is black and my quilt top is multicolored. I often just use my backing fabric for binding, but there wasn’t enough left this time, so I chose a neutral-ish fabric instead. You can do whatever color/pattern you like with you backing and top!
Making the Binding
Once you choose a fabric, cut 2.5″ wide strips to a length equaling the perimeter of your quilt plus 20″ inches. You can get this measurement by adding your quilt’s length + length + width + width + 20.
Unless your quilt is very small, getting enough binding will require piecing together the 2.5″ wide strips until you get to the length you need. To sew the strips into binding, place two strips right sides together perpendicular to each other (as shown below). It might be a good idea to iron yours a bit better than I did mine here :).
Draw a line with a washable marker or pen from outside corner on the top fabric to the outside corner on the bottom fabric (making a 45 degree angle). Clip or pin in place then sew along the line you drew.
Open the fabric to ensure you sewed correctly, then trim off the excess fabric triangle.
Press the seam open. Continue sewing strips together until you get to the length that you need. Make sure you’re always sewing right sides together!
Now that you have a super long strip, fold it in half along the length WRONG sides together and press. Now you’re *almost* ready to bind!
Before sewing on the binding, you’ll need to trim off the excess batting and backing from your quilt sandwich and square it up one more time. Check out this post for a a refresher on how to square a quilt top.
Now, you’ll need to decide which side you want to sew your binding on. For this quilt, I sewed the binding on the backing side first, then wrapped it around to the front and used my machine to sew it down. This will leave a line of stitching on the backing. You can sew it on the opposite way, too, and have the bobbin stitching on the front instead, like in this post.
Whatever you decide, leave a 10″ tail and then start clipping on your binding. Line up the raw edge of the binding fabric with the raw edge of the quilt (front or back depending on the look you’re going for).
Put on your sewing machine’s walking foot and start sewing with a 1/4″ seam allowance, backstitching to start. Leave that 10″ tail loose. Continue sewing until you near the first corner. When you get a few inches away from the corner, put a small mark 1/4″ away from the end using a washable marker or pen. Then continue stitching until you reach that mark, where you’ll backstitch and cut your thread.
Pull the quilt out from under the presser foot. Fold the unstitched portion back on itself at a 45 degree angle like in the picture below.
Keeping that 45 degree crease, fold the binding back on itself again so that it forms a square lining up with the corner of the quilt.
Clip several inches of the loose binding to the quilt, raw edges flush, after the corner. This will leave a fabric flap at the corner, as shown below.
Press the flap down and put a mark 1/4″ away from the edge on unsewn side. Backstitch at that mark to start, then continue sewing with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Here’s a photo of where to start stitching on the second side.
Continue sewing that entire side until the next corner. Repeat this process at the three other corners.
When you’re about 12″ from where you first started sewing, backstitch and cut your thread. You’ll have two loose tails of binding and about 12″ of unsewn space on the quilt.
Time to sew the loose tails together so the binding is continuous around the entire quilt. In this tutorial, I use a cheater’s method. Seasoned quilters may develop an eye twitch when reading on. For the traditional method, check out this post.
Okay, for the cheater’s method fold back your loose tails so that the folds meet along the edge of the quilt and lie flush with one another.
Trim off the excess fabric, leaving a couple of inches on each tail.
Open one tail and fold the short edge back on itself (wrong sides together) about half an inch. This doesn’t need to be exact. Press into place.
Place the opposite binding tail inside the long fold of the loose tail you just pressed.
Clip the binding in place along the raw edge of the quilt.
Sew it down with a 1/4″ seam allowance, completing the continuous binding.
Flip the quilt over and pull the folded edge of the binding up and over the raw edge of the quilt. This will encase all the raw edges.
Clip in place along the first straight edge.
Sew as close to the folded edge of the binding fabric as possible. 1/8″ works well here. The goal is to sew to the left of the stitch line you just created sewing the raw edge of the binding.
Pause, needle down, when you come to each corner. Do not cut your thread. Your corner should look like the photo below, with the folded edges of the binding fabric popping up around the corner of the quilt.
Fold the right edge of the corner down, as shown below.
Then fold the bottom edge up, creating a mitered corner. Clip the fabric in place and continue sewing along the edge of the folded binding fabric, keeping your needle down and pivoting at the corner.
Continue around the entire quilt, backstitching at the end, and you’re all done!