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LaRueSews-Quilts-Binding Isn’t the End

LaRueSews-Quilts-Binding Isn’t the End

The subject matter this time is probably one of the “testiest” that I have approached.  We are nearing the end of making a quilt from start to finish.  Adding the bind is the best part, right up to stitching down the binding on the back.  The photos I am using were made while I was finishing this quilt for my grand daughter.  She plays the piano, and the wall hanging was a gift for her 8th grade graduation.   That quilt is shown here.

First, decide the width of the binding you like.  It is common to make a 1/4inch or ½ inch binding.  Next, decide between a very durable, double layer of fabric on the edge, called French or double binding.  Or choose to make a single binding which has only one layer of fabric on the edge of the binding.  Since I have been making quilts regularly, I have used the double binding, simply because it will last a long time with much use and many washings. As a general rule, you can plan to cut your binding strips about six times the width of the finished binding, plus 1/8th in.  That extra 1/8th inch is just a little extra assurance that the binding will cover the entire seam.  I nearly always use a ½ inch binding.  I just like the look of a generous binding on the edge of my quilts.  Many people prefer a 1/4 inch binding.  It is entirely personal preference.  As an example of cutting strips for ½ inch binding, you would cut strips 3 1/8 inches wide.  It is also personal preference whether you cut the binding strips on the straight grain or on the bias grain of the fabric.  However, If you decide to cut strips on the straight grain, be sure to cut the strips crosswise of the fabric, or from selvage to selvage.  The reason is that there is a very slight stretch in the crosswise grain and that leaves just a bit of ease when applying the binding.  I wanted a ½ inch finished binding. 

In the photos I am using for this blog, I have cut fabric on the bias of the fabric because I like the look of the diagonal printed dots of the fabric better than the straight-line dots.  Borders are not normally cut on the bias because of the stretching that occurs with bias.  In this case, the bias border is strictly a design choice.   Thinking ahead in all aspects of quilting proves to turn out a better product.  Visualizing the end product is very helpful. Cutting the border is shown in photo


Note: If you are interested in learning more about cutting borders on the bias, contact me by email and I will help you, or make a note in comments.

The book All In One Quilter’s Reference Tool*  I recommended in an earlier blog is very clear about helping to determine the amount of fabric needed for the size of your quilt.  After cutting the correct amount of strips, it is time to join all the strips into a long continuous strip of fabric. I recommend joining the strips on the bias to reduce bulk at the joining seamlines.  Layer the strips perpendicular to each other, right sides together. Sew the seam across the diagonal. Trim the seam to 1/4 inch.  Next, go to the iron, and press the strip in the lengthwise center.  This bias strip is normally several yards long.

Square up the quilt, and trim edges. If you own a walking foot, it’s a great tool for sewing binding.  Because of the kind of hopping motion of a walking foot, the top binding layers are not pushed forward against the quilt body as you sew.  Sew the cut edge of the binding to the quilt edge, using ½ in. seam allowance.  Sew the binding to the front of the quilt.  It will be turned to the back for finishing.  Lay the binding evenly along the cut edge of the quilt.  Begin stitching in the center on one side of the quilt.  Mark the center point of the side where you want to begin and end.  I usually begin at the center of the bottom edge.  Start sewing about 6 inches from the center and leaving a 12 to 18 inch “tail” of binding strip before you begin.  Sew with ½ inch seam, evenly.  To make miter corners, sew toward the corner, stopping at ½ inch before the end of the seam.  Pivot the quilt one quarter turn to the left and backstitch off the edge of the quilt. Continue sewing all the way around the quilt, mitering corners and stopping about 12 inches from where you began.  That will leave a space of about 12 inches between and beginning and ending of the strips.



At this point, I’m going to be brutally honest with you and tell you that making a mitered seam at the joining point of the binding is TRICKY.  If you are not a mathematician or engineer, you may need a lot of practice.  Hang in there . . . It is one of the most satisfying parts of making a quilt.  The first time you make a really nice a mitered  joining of a quilt binding is great.  I checked some of my quilts, looking for a joining that would show up in a photo, but I couldn’t find one that isn’t invisible. (No brag, just fact).  The older quilts were sewn in any way I could figure out at the time, with marginal success.  BTW. *The book mentioned above has good instruction for joining the binding.


Note: I try to remember some of the things that I have heard that quilt judges look for when judging quilts in a show.  One important one that they do check is that they look at the binding carefully to see if the seam allowance inside of the binding “fills” the binding.  In other words, make sure that you have made the seam so that when the binding is turned to the back, there is no empty space in the edge of the binding.  It’s not very visible until you look close or feel the edge with your fingers, but it is one of the signs of a quality quilt.  The details make a difference.

At the end fold each piece of binding strip toward the center of the side, meeting with folds at the center mark. Place a pin at each fold to mark the meeting point.  Don’t cut the strip ends yet!  Open out the folded strip ends and mark a 45 degree angle on the inside of the binding, centering the 45 degree angle at the pin-marked strip.  Pin the seam lines together and check to make sure that your mitered ending fits together nicely.  Marking in the right direction on poth ends can be confusing.  Make any adjustment to the seamlines now, if needed.  Sew the seamline together.  When you are sure it’s all fitting well, now you can use the scissors and trim to 1/4 inch.



Now that you have sewn the binding to the quilt, check the seam all the way around to see if there any visible places that you need to change or adjust (what is mean here is mistakes) Giggles here are allowed.   When you are satisfied with the results, it’s time to stitch down the binding on the back of the quilt.  Turn the binding to the back of the quilt.  In the past I have used pins to hold the binding down while I stitch.  However, a really neat and easy  tricks is to use spring hair clips to hold the binding in place while stitching.

This brings us to the end of the quilt we’ve worked on all these months. This is assuming that you HAVE been making a quilt.  In the future, I have a few other things
to talk about, like a neat way to make half square triangles, some applique, and making a quilt label.  Last time I asked for your input about topics for future LaRueSews subjects.  I didn’t get any response.  I would really like to continue writing, but without some feedback from you I will not know what interests you.

Last time I said I would include a photo of the quilt I gave to Kasey, my oldest granddaughter to take with her to college.  It began as a retreat mystery quilt, last September and turned into her college quilt.  It is proof that I can make a whole quilt from my stash.   She liked it a lot.

I would also like to tell you some great places to get good quilt fabric.  Check out this link one. IMHO it is the best fabric web site I know.  eQuilter.com

Keep quilting and meet me here in two weeks.

Stitches to you,

Comments (21) -

You have such lovely projects.  


I am interested in ways of finishing, besides binding.  I want to make smaller things - place mats, table-runners, etc,, possibly not lined, but more likely lined.  I want to know how to finish them.  Binding still scares me.

I would love to learn how to use my rolled hem foot.  I can go straight, but what do I do for the corners?


Love your blog, even though I don't quilt!

As for an idea, how about a block of the month deal. You post a block and at the end we can put pictures of the quilts on the site.

Another thing you could do a column on is stippling.


I have made 5 quilted projects, applique, regular sewn/pieced blocks & paper piecing, and am totally hooked!  I was taught how to do those mitered joints, and you are RIGHT - they are almost impossible to see in photos!!  AND personally satisfying!!  I found that if I left the tiniest of gaps between the two ends on step one, it's much easier to ease as needed.  Love your blog, and would like to read about what colors do (recede, look bigger, draw the eye, etc) and fabric combinations that work well.  THANKS for sharing your knowledge!

I was taught to use the backing to finish by just having extra to finish by folding and hand stitching to the front and it still looks neat and is a doubled  binding. It works great and lasts forever. Used for utility quilts. But I have done bindings but have trouble at the corners. I love the mitered look. But after a few years my grandchildren's quilts come back to have the binding fixed. I get so frustrated. My mother worked as a seamstress for a large company and my grandmother made all of us slippers and comforters/quilts.

Thank you, everyone, for all of your comments.  I'm so glad  you come back again and again.

Thanks, Pat, for coming back.


I'm not sure just what you are looking for.  But I have tried to use the rolled hem foot for the sewing machine without much success.  However, many sergers have a rolled hem feature that works really well.  I've seen a book on how to use machine accesories, but don't remember just where.  Amazon.com, I think.

One of the ladies who reads LaRueSews told me about a ruler made in Australia, called the Double Mitre Ruler.  You can see a video Demonstration at

this URL: www.checkerdist.com/video_detail.cfm?vcatID=32731">www.checkerdist.com/video_detail.cfm  

I just found this web site where there are many video demos to view on many products. You can cut and paste it into your browser.  The ruler can be purchased at shopper's rule.com at this URL: www.shoppersrule.com/.../merchant.mvc">www.shoppersrule.com/.../merchant.mvc


Your idea of a BOM might work if there are enough people who would like to participate.  I'll mention it next time and see how it goes.


I'm glad to know you are having success with your quilting ventures.  Keep up the good work.  About color, I might suggest that you go back to my earlier blogs in August through September of 2008.  There are various articles there that deal with color and fabrics and how you them in quilting.  In fact, I suggest that you go back to the beginning and read them all.  On the left side of this blog page, you will see a box titled Archives.  You can click on any month and read those older blogs.


I have see the method that you speak of in your comments.  Though it is a long used method, I prefer sewing binding to the quilt in a separate piece/strip.  When it is sewn to the front of the quilt as I stated, it is turned to the back and stitched with blind stitching.  Using this method keeps the hand stitches hidden on the back of the quilt and makes a very finished look.  As I said in the blog, I try to use methods that are well accepted by judges at quilt shows.  The method I wrote about is widely accepted by judges.  Also, when using the folded, double binding described is very sturdy and will last for years.  Making the bindings work well on mitered corners takes practice.  A good book showing the instructions for mitering corners is helpful.  Most basic instruction books show how to make mitered corners.  New methods are always being used, but I have found that the double mitered binding works best for me.


Another great blog! You were kind in discribing the mitered corner as TRICKY! Yikes! That's an understatement!

Everyone has good ideas for your future blogs. I like the ideas given by kcdc989 and putting together differnt blocks. You could go a step further in how to assemble these blocks into a quilt top (different ways to lay out the same blocks to get differnt affects)

I never tire of reading your blogs! Keep up the good work.



I'll get back to you.  I just wrote a lengthy reply and something knocked me off the blog site.

Just can't do it again right now.


Interesting points of view.  I have been checking with some of my readers to see if they would like to do a 'guest' blog about the different methods.

There is more than one way to do things, and I personally would like to see people step forward with their methods.


When I do bindings I sew them on to the back of the quilt, then turn it to the front and  machine sew it down with a decorative stitch.

I do most of my quilts with the Betty Cotton Theory.  I find it so much easier and all of the quilt can be done on my machine. For those who are not familier with this way each block is completly finished, quilted and all before it is put together.  Anyone can do a king size quilt on any machine using this method.


Thanks for the tips on binding. I have made a couple of quilts. Binding is my downside. This is a great help. I too am interested in BOM.




If you check over previous LaRueSews blogs, in August and September 2008, you will find several blogs on color and fabric placement.  I'll have to do further study in this area for more info.  Up until now, I've been drawing on past experience to write about.  Since blogging takes up a considerable amount of time itself,  it's hard to learn techniques that I am not familiar with for blogging purposes.  I have seen and done numerous techniques that I can draw from.  I will do some studying to remind myself of things that I have done and seen before.  

Would it help any of you if I do some particular block, step by step to show how to assemble them?  Please let me know and also, if any particular block gives you a problem, I could do some scouting of them.  A web site that is really good for ideas for new blocks is:

http://www.quilterscache.com/index.html">www.quilterscache.com/index.html  You will have to cut and paste because I don't have the ability on comments to make links, unless somebody can tell me how to do it. Quilter's Cache has hundreds of block patterns that you are free to use for yourself or for gifts.


I have seen binding done the way you describe.  It works well if your are machine sewing the binding in place.  I have also done the same thing, applying the binding on the front and turning to the back.. I just prefer to make my hand stitches hide on the back of the quilt.  It's all just personal preference.  I don't do a whole lot of machine quilting.  I don't especially like to work with big projects on the machine.  Though I am familiar with Betty Cotton Theory, I have not used it, since I have other patterns in mind to do before I learn that technique.  I need to use up some stash, ya know.

Someone suggested that I write about Stippling.  I don't think anyone would like my stippling.  I've never been able to master that kind of machine quilting, I come out with points rather than curves.  Not a pretty sight.  I guess I just need a pattern that is transfered or drawn on the quilt to do it sucessfully.

Stitches . .



I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.  Binding gets easier with practice.  Just keep lt going.

Stitches . . LaRue

Where can I find the pattern to the piano keys?


The pattern is in a book called "All Buttoned Up", published by That Patchwork Place.

Stitches . .


I love your blog! I am new to quilt making, having let a friend of mine "talk" me into taking a machine quilt making class at a local community college. I'm hooked! I haven't made the binding for our class project quilt yet and appreciate the reminders as I found I have forgotten some of the little tricks.

I would love to see a block of the month. I really like simply patterns.

Well, Readers, it looks like many of you have expressed an interest in a Block Of the Month.  I think this just might work out for us.  While I am researching ideas for our projects, let me ask all of you to begin searching for coordinating fabrics.  Fabric requirements will be posted later.  Don't buy fabrics until I tell you how much you will need to buy.

Stitches . .

LaRue at


The binding instructions and pictures were super...Thanks.  I have just been asked to make a baby quilt from a Brides maids dress... It is strapless, with a gored skirt (seams everywhere) It has beads on the bodice and at the waistline and I have been reqested to use the beaded areas.  It is a cream satin fabric.  Any suggestions of how to proceed?  Do all blocks need to be on straight grain...I think the satin will change color if it is not all laid out the same...Wish I could show you personally what I am dealing with. Doris


Thanks you for the compliments.  As for you question about the baby quilt, I've been thinking of an answer, but without seeing the dress, it's hard to know what to say.  You have partially answered you question already.  Satin probably does need special treatment.  The main thing I could suggest is to try to use the directional difference  as part of your quilt design, laying the cut pieces in varying directions.  You could play with the idea by buying some other satin that is similar, and do some cutting of piecesas you think you will need to do with the dress.  Try laying out the cut pieces in differing patterns aand directions to see what happens with the color/shade variations.  In imagining how the pieces are put together, etc. you could probably just cut inside the seamlines to recover the fabric, since the satin might show the stitching lines.  Experiment with some places that will not be used to see if the stitch lines show when ripped out at the seam.  Don't know if any of this helps.  If you need more help, write me directly on my email addy.

Stitches . .


cindylouclc 8/17/2009 9:41:31 PM

My mother is the professional that expects perfection out of the beginner, therefore it is easier to search out instructions elsewhere.  Hence finding your blog on binding.  THANK YOU!.  When exploring I found the wall hanging of the baby grand pianos that you made for your grand daughters graduation.  I have a dear friend who is a music teacher in New York that is getting married next year that this pattern would be  a perfect gift for.  Do you know where I can purchase the piano design/pattern?

Hmmm, glad to know you found the blog by a net search.  Also glad to know you found something of use to you.  The quilt you asked about is in a book called "All buttoned Up" by Loraine Manwaring and Susan Nelsen, It is available from Susan Nelson's web site. rasmatazzdesigns.danemcoweb.com/">rasmatazzdesigns.danemcoweb.com

I hope you will read more of my blogs.  An archives list is on the left side of this page.

Stitches to you,


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