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How to Make Binding for Quilts


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Choose a Binding Fabric and Method
I rarely choose a binding fabric until my quilt top is assembled, because it's difficult to preview how a fabric will look until everything else is in place.

Put your blocks or finished quilt top on a design wall (or any flat surface) and place longish strips of potential binding fabrics alongside. Step away. Do you like the look? Leave the room for awhile and come back. Do you still like the quilt's appearance? Preview more fabrics until you're satisfied with the binding choice.

Choose a Binding Width

How wide should the binding be? If the quilt doesn't have borders, a 1/4" wide binding is the best, since that width matches-up with the 1/4" seam allowance that's built-in to the edge of most quilt blocks.

If the quilt has borders, it's just as simple to sew on a binding that's wider or narrower than 1/4", since it doesn't make too much difference how far inward the seam to attach binding is sewn.

Singlefold Binding

Singlefold binding is made with a single layer of fabric that folds over the outer edge of a quilt. Reserve it for miniatures or wallhangings -- it is not durable enough for quilts that will be used on a bed.

Singlefold Binding Strip Width

  • 2 times the finished binding width + (2 times the seam allowance) -- plus a little extra

Doublefold Binding

Sometimes called French binding, doublefold binding is made by folding a long strip of fabric lengthwise to create two layers. The extra layer offers protection from wear. I always use doublefold binding, even for mini quilts and wallhangings.

Doublefold Binding Strip Width

  • (2 times the finished binding width + Seam allowance) X 2

I usually add a bit of extra insurance width to the formula. The extra width might make the binding extend a bit farther onto the quilt back when it's time to stitch it in place, but that's a much better scenario than not having quite enough to cover the seam used to secure it to all layers of the quilt.

Quilt Binding Advice

  • Avoid most bindings that are sold as notions in fabric stores, because they aren't durable enough to use in a quilt.
  • Moda is one fabric manufacturer that sells bias binding by the yard. It's made from the same quality fabrics they produce on the bolt.

  • Your binding doesn't have to be made from one fabric. Assemble binding with as many different fabrics as you like to create a scrappy appearance.

  • Cut long crosswise grain strips from wide backing fabric to reduce the number of seams or eliminate seams entirely.

  • I like having a little extra width when I fold the binding to the quilt back and sew it in place; extra width is very helpful when you use a high loft batting.

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