Back to Basics - Binding - Stitching It Down!

So far you have made your binding and sewed it onto the quilt. Have you trimmed up the sides? Ready to gather your materials? For this step you will need:
 I use matching thread, a milliner's needle, my travel scissors, and 2 mini clothes pins. At this time fold your project so the back is the only thing you see.

I'd like to take a second to point out that you don't need 100+ spools of thread around to match every binding you make. The thread I'm using is obviously burgundy against a red binding. It works. Just don't use white on black or neon green on purple or whatever. As long as you are close, the color should be fine. Test it out by laying some of the thread on the fabric first to see how it looks.

Also, if you are doing a striped binding and don't know what color thread to pick, I'll go over this situation a bit more at the end.

*Note if you are right-handed you may find it easier to work around the binding clockwise while if you are left-handed it may be easier to work counter-clockwise.
 I always try to start close to a corner (it's this reverse psychology thing for me that when I finish that last corner there's only a side to go - it seems to make it go faster). I start somewhere around the nearest fold and place my 2 clothes pins about 2 inches apart.

You'll want to pull the binding taught when folding it over, that way it will feel nice and full when you feel it later and it will ensure that the stitching is even around the quilt.
 Almost in that fold I as talking about, I take my needle and thread, knotted with a Quilter's Knot (learn how to make one here), and slide the needle through the underside of the binding with the needle coming out right at the fold. This will hide the knot and no one will ever see it.

* Just make sure you're only going through one layer of the binding and not both or your thread will show on the outside.
 Once you fold the binding over it should look like this.
 Now take a blind stitch. You'll want to put the needle in the backing fabric right next to where it came out of the binding. Then about 1/4" down you'll want it to come out of the binding just under the fold.

You'll want to keep your stitches small, so that once the quilt is in use nothing can get under the binding and rip your stitches out (like little fingers for instance).
 Keep stitching like this.
 * Tip - You may find it easier to slightly roll the edge of the binding with your fingers to see the bottom of the fold easier. Remember to try to keep all stitches just underneath the edge of the fold - both the start and stop of each stitch.
 Work like this until you get close to the first clothes pin, and reposition the closest pin "leap-frogging" it behind the furthest pin.
 IF you keep all of your stitches just underneath the fold you will not see a single one, even on a fabric like this where you might have to stitch through other colors.
 See even if I pull on the binding a bit to show, you might be able to see where the stitches are, but not the actual thread (remember I'm using a burgundy thread here)
 Keep working this way all the way to the corner. Remember how you folded the binding while sewing it onto the quilt? Once you get close to the corner and pull the binding over, the corner on the front of the quilt should automatically look like this.
 Keep working the side of binding you are stitching all the way to the end.
 Once you get to the end you'll want to stop about here...
 And do a locking stitch. Just grab some threads of the backing fabric and a little of the binding and do one stitch. This will hold the end in place while we work on the corner.
 I know it's a little hard to see here, but park your needle up the side that's already stitched down and pull your thread tail out towards that side also so it's out of the way.
 Position your 2 clothes pins a couple inches from the corner.
 Make sure the excess binding is tucked all the way into the edge where you stopped stitching and you should have a nice 45 degree fold like above. (Notice the thread coming out of the bottom corner)
 This area might be tricky at first to learn how to handle, but you are going to do a few blind stitches tacking the corner in place, just sew up the fold.
 Once you get to the top of the fold (the goal is for the last stitch to come out right at the corner), you'll want to set the corner by grabbing a few threads of the previous binding, the backing and the new binding. Then just keep stitching!
 Once you get to a point where you're about to run out of thread, try to stop in an area of the "matching" color, not the black, not the tan... This is where the thread possibly might show a smidge.
 As with the locking stitch at the corner, grab a few threads of the backing fabric and the binding.
 Pull the needle through, but also pull the needle through the thread loop before pulling the thread tight. Do this twice to form 2 small knots.
 Then put your needle through the binding fabric right next to the knots and bring out the needle an inch or so away.
 Pull the thread out and cut it really close to where it came out without cutting the fabric. Since this isn't the strongest knot out there, but the most effective in this case, you need to leave a good tail on it so it can keep it's strength. If you just cut the thread right next to the knot it would unravel in a couple washes... 
 Once done it should look like this. Can't see the knot and you can't see the thread tail.
 To begin stitching again, thread your needle and make a Quilter's Knot. Tuck the threaded needle in under the binding about an inch from where you plan on starting the stitching again. Guide the needle through just the underside of the binding coming out just in front of the knot you've just made. Then guess what? Just keep stitching, just keep stitching, just keep stitching (sorry, I keep hearing Dori from Finding Nemo in my head... hehehe)
 Before you know it you'll be done! A binding that has been prepared, sewn on and stitched down! Woohoo!
And on the front you should have a wonderfully finished quilt! This is you haven't guessed is another version of my Charmed Living Runner that I made for my S-I-L's birthday out of Java by Deb Strain. It's an older line full of coffee. She saw it a while back and fell in love with the fabric, but she doesn't sew - yet... So, I gobbled up a Charm Pack and some yardage to make this for her birthday and surprise her.

So last little note about binding. Remember at the top I mentioned about striped bindings? Well, they are SO MUCH FUN! But sometimes it can be hard trying to determine which thread to use. I suggest going for either the most seen color or something in the middle of the color tones. On most of the stripes I've done a yellow has been my thread of choice.

What you have to keep in mind with these bindings though is - you have to make a conscious effort to start and stop your stitching in the matching color of your thread. It's not a hard task, but just something to keep in mind.

I think that should do it. You now have the step by step instructions for everything binding. (almost) There are other versions like bias binding and scalloped edges on quilts that we can get into later, but not this time around. Remember this is Back to Basics!

So as with the previous entries, if you have anything you'd like to ask or comment, please leave a comment below and I will answer you back with another comment. Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions at all with any of the steps of the 3 tutorials.

Congrats, if you've made it this far you know how to do a binding now! Yippee! See you back here again with another topic - oh, and if there's anything you wish to learn, let me know by leaving a comment on that too and I will feature it in the future!


  1. Great tutorial! The pictures are amazingly clear! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I agree with Anita! The pictures are most helpful!


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