Back to Basics - Binding - The Prep

So preparing a binding is easy. If you follow the instructions I show you, I am sure you will get through this process in a fast and accurate manner. So, let's start!

First, I would like to show you how I figure out how much binding I need. The first thing you will need is the size of the project you plan to bind (and a calculator might come in handy). My sample is one of my Charmed Living Runners which finishes at 18" x 32". This measurement doesn't need to be 100% accurate, but somewhere in the ballpark.

Ok, so take the dimensions and find the perimeter (18+18+32+32=100) and add 20 (just some cushion room) to this number.

Then take the number you find (120) and divide it by 40 (the usable width of most fabrics). This will find out how many strips you will need. (120/40=3) So, we need 3 strips of binding.

Now, everyone cuts their binding strips into different widths. I started out at 2.5" which I recommend for beginners. Once I got used to it as you will, work your way down to a 2.25" width. But recently I discovered 2.13" (2-1/8") and it's my new favorite. It does take a little getting used to, but start out with 2.5" and work your way down to where you feel comfortable.

To find out how much fabric you need, multiply the width of your strip by how many strips you need (2.13 x 3=6.39") I'll need 1/4 yard to bind this project.

So you've got your strips figured out and cut. Let's start stitching.
 Take one of your strips and lay it right sides up in front of your sewing machine as shown.
 Take a second strip and lay it right sides together on top of the other strip at a 90 degree angle. Overlap each strip a smidge so none of the selvage will be in the stitching.
 Turn this unit 90 degrees clockwise and place the intersection of the two fabrics right up against your needle.
 You will be sewing across the "intersection" from corner to corner. I've done this enough I can line it up with marks on my sewing machine, but if you need to, please mark the diagonal and pin.
 Sew all the way across and your line should look like this. Be careful you are sewing in the right direction, I have sewn the other way before and I can tell you from experience - it doesn't work that way... Repeat for all the strips until you have one long strip. This is really easy to chain piece as well.

*Note - If you are using a solid fabric, you have to be super careful of which is the "right" and "wrong" side. The easiest way I have found to keep this in check is: when I finish sewing my first strips together - I take the strip on top, stretch it out so there's no folds in it and fold it back to me with the side that was on the bottom now on the top. This will keep your seams all on the wrong side.
 So once you've stitched all your strips together, trim off the excess leaving about 1/4" seam. It doesn't need to be perfect.
 Take this long strip over to your ironing board and place one end right side down.

*Note I am right-handed so I work right to left in this step. You may find it easier to work opposite from me in these next steps if you are left-handed.
 Take the bottom of the strip and fold it in half towards the top pressing wrong sides together.
 You will want to hold the top edge almost to the other edge. Once the iron hits it, they'll line up perfect (look at the top left versus the top right where it's been pressed) I work right to left and once I press all that I can in one stretch on the ironing board I just shift the binding strip over.
 Now when you get to a seam, it'll look like this. Don't worry.
 Give it a slight finger press to open that seam.
 Then hit it with the iron so it's nice and flat. The reason we piece these strips together at an angle will become apparent to you when you press this seam in half.

Diagonal seams reduce bulk in strips like this. Plus, once it's been folded, attached to the quilt, and we go to stitch it down, the seams will almost disappear. You want to avoid extra bulk in a binding as much as possible.  Press the entire binding from one end to the other.
 Last step before we attach the binding! I always like to start the binding with an angled edge, this way when we put the binding on the quilt and we need to join the binding - it's less work then. Also it's much easier to make this cut now without a quilt attached, especially a king size quilt. Work smarter, not harder.

So, line up one edge of your binding with the 45 degree mark on your ruler (the top edge in the picture) and leave that selvage edge hanging off the end. We don't want that in our binding!
Cut that strip at a 45 degree angle and you're ready to stitch it onto your project! I'll be back tomorrow with the instructions on how to attach the binding to a quilt, and I'll follow that up with how to stitch it down the following day.

So I'm curious. It sounds like I've got a good mix of beginners and a bit more advanced quilters out there. Is this how you make your bindings? Do you have any questions? Do you have anything to add?

I ask if you have anything you would like to input on this topic (both questions and comments) that you would please leave a comment below. As much as I love receiving e-mails from you all, this topic needs to be an open discussion and if there are any questions I need to answer I will comment back allowing you all to read every answer, not just answers to the question you've asked.

Thanks for stopping by and hanging in there with me until the end. Remember I will be back tomorrow for part 2! See you then!


  1. In the section where you are sewing the strips together before going on to you next strip open it and eyeball it to make sure your top and bottom are even with the strip you just connected it with before doing any trimming. My friend Linda showed me this tip, after I ruined a whole strip because it was almost 1/4 in off on the bottom and the extra was above the first strip that 1/4 in. If is off it is usually fixable with another seam. I really think you did a great job on this tutorial and look forward to the next step. I am in the process of binding a baby quilt now. So I await you next step. Thank you for taking your time to do this, I really appreciate it. www.intheboondocks/blogspot.com

  2. Good point Lisa! I've done this so much that I can tell you that if your 90 degree angle is accurate, it will be fine every time but it doesn't hurt to check it before trimming!


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