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How to Bind a Quilt

by Sandy Trachsel

You’ve cut and pieced fabric to make a quilt top. You made a quilt sandwich (quilt top, batting and quilt back). You’ve quilted your quilt top. Now we need to make binding and attach it to your quilt! This tutorial is a continuation from the piecing tutorial and the quilting tutorial, using my free table runner pattern, “In Love With Fall”.


First let’s make our binding. I’ve seen instructions for 2.25″, 2.5″ and 3″ wide binding strips. For this tutorial, we will use 2.5″ wide strips for our binding.

  • Measure your quilt top’s circumference (top length + bottom length + right side + left side) to determine how much binding you will need. Add 20″ to that number. For this table runner, that equals 118″. Add 20″ to that number. So we will need 138″ of binding. At 2.5″ wide per strip, when using 40″ width of fabric (WOF), we’ll need four strips, which is 10″ of fabric, or just under 1/3 yard.
  • Press your binding fabric with your iron. Straighten the edge. And cut four 2.5″ strips. (If you need a refresher on this step, refer back to “Piecing your Quilt” by clicking here.
  • Next we’ll join the strips into one long strip.


Place one strip face up. Place another strip face down, parallel, on top of the first strip, right sides together (RST). Pin the top right and bottom left edges. Mark a line, diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. Stitch along that line with a 2.0 mm stitch. I used a 75/11 Schmetz Quilting needle, and 50 wt. Aurifil thread in both the needle and the bobbin. Join all the strips in the same manner.

Once you have joined all the strips –

  • Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the sewn edges, leaving a 1/4″.
  • Set the seams with your iron.
  • Press the seams open.
  • Trim the little triangles (dog ears).

Going back to your iron –

  • Fold one end of the strip on the diagonal to meet the bottom end of the strip – wrong sides together. Press.
  • Begin folding the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, pressing until you reach the other end.
  • You now have a nice roll of binding!


There are several ways to attach the binding, to the front, and then to the back. In this tutorial, we will go over attaching the binding by machine to the front of the quilt, and then also attaching the binding by machine to the back of the quilt. Many quilters prefer to hand stitch the binding to the back. Experiment with different methods to find what works best for you.

Place the diagonal end of the binding approximately 6 inches from the bottom right corner of your quilt, with the folded edge facing up. Line the raw edges of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt top. I am using a 90/14 Schmetz Topstitching needle and 50 wt. Aurifil thread in the needle and in the bobbin. Ideally I would pick a thread color that matched both the binding and the backing, but in this case my binding is purple and my backing is white. So I am using a neutral light tan thread. I am using a 1/4″ foot, and I have my machine set to a 2.5 mm stitch. You will want to do a “backstitch” to lock your stitches both when starting and stopping.

  • Backstitch, and begin stitching.
  • Stitch to the next corner, stopping about 1/4″ from the corner. Backstitch to lock the stitch, and then cut the thread.

  • Turn the quilt 90 degrees.
  • Place the binding, diagonal, away from the needle. Then fold it down. (See photos below.)
  • Backstitch and then begin stitching again about 1/4″ from the end until you get 1/4″ before the next corner. Repeat above steps until you are past the 4th corner, almost to where you started, and then stop.

  • Trim the binding with scissors to just a bit longer than you think you will need.
  • Then trim a little more exactly.
  • Tuck the end of the binding into the diagonal opening.
  • Continue stitching, backstitching when done.

Next comes my favorite step – trimming the batting and backing! Using a long ruler trim the excess batting and backing 3/8″ from the binding stitching line. This will leave just a tiny bit of batting and backing around the edges. It is looking like a real quilt now!


Now it is time to attach the binding to the back of the quilt. But before we do that, let’s make a quilt label. Cut a square of fabric. Press it. Fold it in half diagonally. Press it again. Using a permanent fabric marker, at a minimum, write your name and the date. You can also add other pertinent information such as the name of the pattern, washing instructions, who the quilt was made for, etc.. We will tuck this into our binding on the back of the quilt when sewing the binding to the back.

The most important part of attaching binding to your quilt is YOUR IRON! I also find it very helpful to use Clover Wonder Clips.

  • The first step is to press the binding with the quilt top facing up, to set the seams.
  • Next gently press the binding away from the quilt.
  • Turn the quilt over, and press the top of the back of the quilt.

  • Turn the quilt over, and press the top of the back of the quilt.

  • Begin turning the binding down over the back of the quilt, just covering the stitching line. Gently press and attach the Clover Wonder Clips. You don’t want to stretch the fabric.
  • Miter the binding when you come to a corner.
  • Don’t forget to tuck your label into one of the corners! I usually insert it into the lower left or lower right corner.
  • Depending on the size of your quilt, you might want to only do one or two sides of the quilt at a time.
  • Place the quilt face up at the sewing machine.
  • Put the needle down just to the right of the binding seam.
  • Pull up the bobbin thread.
  • Stitch to the next corner, and stop with the needle down.
  • Periodically, as you are stitching, peek underneath to make sure your backing is still flat. Also make sure you are covering the original stitch.
  • Stop at the corner, with your needle down.
  • Rotate the quilt 90 degrees, and continue sewing to the next corner.
  • Repeat until all the binding has been stitched.
  • When finished, inspect all sides. If needed, unpick any stitches where the original stitch is not covered, and re-stitch that section.
  • This takes some practice!

Attaching the binding is complete! And so is our “In Love With Fall” table runner! You can download the free pattern on Sandy's blog here.

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