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Machine or Hand Binding Tutorial // Precise Binding

When I first began quilting, attaching the binding was something I really struggled with. A big thanks to Sharon Schamber for her awesome quilt binding videos, as well as a few books and other tutorials I tried. After trying over 5 different methods I began to adapt pieces of them into one method which I have perfected and works well for me. So today I am going to share this method for a precise quilt binding that has perfect miters and is even around the entire quilt. Forewarning: This may be the longest tutorial I have ever written, but if you can get through it, it will be worth it! quilt-binding-ad

Is this the fastest way to bind a quilt? No. It can be  tedious, but no one said perfection comes speedy quick. In fact, this binding process is a relaxing step for me which I enjoy. Once you have done it enough times, you could listen to an audio book, music, or whatever and just relax.

This tutorial will be broken up into a few different steps:

  • Tools & Materials
  • Preparing the Calculations
  • Making the Binding
  • Basting the Binding
  • Determining the Seam Allowance
  • Attaching the Binding
  • Folding and Securing the Binding
  • Finishing the Binding
    The key to success with this tutorial will be accuracy! At each step try as hard as possible to get things very accurate. So when you fold your binding in half, do so carefully. When you sew your binding on do sew carefully, etc. Finally, the really great thing is when we get to Finishing the Binding you have the choice to finish by machine or by hand! So lets get to it…

    Tools & Materials

      Preparing the Calculations

      Bias or Straight Grain

      There are a few different types of binding that can be used; the most popular two being Bias Binding, and Straight Grain Binding. This is a long discussed debate in the quilting world and my advice is to learn about each option and choose what works best for you. I wrote all about this in a previous post. Personally, for binding a curved edge (like the Retro Rubies Quilt), I use bias binding. For straight edged quilts I use straight grain binding. In this tutorial we will be using Straight Grain Binding.

      Determine the amount of binding needed

      You will need to figure out how much binding you will need for your entire quilt, what width binding you want to use, and how much fabric you will need. You can do the calculations all by hand or use the free Robert Kaufman Quilting App for iPhone or Android.

      Calculations by Hand

      To calculate the length of the binding you will need to measure the length and width of your quilt in inches, add them together, multiply by 2 and add 15 to that total number.

      Ex. Quilt Size - 45" by 45" 45"+ 45"= 90" 90" x 2"= 180" 180" + 15" = 195" of Binding

      Now we need to figure out what width binding we want to use. I prefer a medium width binding and have found 2.5" wide strips to work perfectly. If the fabric we are using is about 42" wide, then take the total binding needed divided by 42 to figure out how many strips you will need to cut. Round up to the next whole number.

      195" / 42" = 4.6 rounded up to 5 strips

      Finally we need to figure out how much yardage we will need. Multiply the number of strips by the width of the strips to get the total yardage.

      5 x 2.5" = 12.5" which is about ⅜ yard Calculations with an App

      If you want a super speedy way to do this calculation (and many others like backing, etc.), you can use the Robert Kaufman Quilting App for iPhone or Android.


      Making the Binding

      • Press fabric with a hot dry iron and starch (refer to starching tutorial).
      • Cut the selvage off both ends of the fabric.
      • Cut fabric into 2.5” strips using a ruler and rotary cutter.
        • Step 1: Lay one fabric strip on your pressing board right side up. Fold the corner downward to form a 45 degree triangle. Press with a hot dry iron to leave a crease mark.
        • Step 2: Using a fine tip on your Elmer's School Glue bottle, draw a thin line of glue directly on the crease.
        • Step 3: Take a second fabric strip right side down and line it up with the corner of the first strip. The two strips should now create a right angle. Now press the glue/crease with a hot dry iron to heat set.
        • Step 4: Fold the corner downward again and press to make the crease defined.
        • Repeat steps 1 through 4 until all of the strips are joined together in one long strand.


        • Step 5: Take the strips over to your machine. Set the stitch length on your machine to 1.8-2.0. Sew directly on the crease line of all the strip joints. *Tip - you do not need to cut your thread between sewing each joint, you can chain piece them one after another.
        • Step 6: Using a rotary cutter and the stitch line as a guide, trim all the joint seam allowances to ⅜".
        • Step 7: Back at your pressing table, press all the joint seams to one side.
        • Step 8: Lay the strip wrong side up and begin spraying an arm’s length section at a time with starch. Fold the strip in half, lining up the raw edges and carefully pressing with a hot dry iron. Do this until the entire strip from end to end has been folded in half.
        • Step 9: Take one end of the binding and open it up to expose the wrong side.
        • Step 10: Create a 45 degree triangle fold matching up the raw edges on the right side. Press the fold with a hot dry iron.
        • Step 11: Now fold the wrong sides back together as before and press. You will now have a finished binding strip.

        Basting the Binding

        • Step 12 (image above): When basting your binding the best setup is to have your pressing table at sitting height. Sit down with the quilt top facing up and binding strip in your lap. Start drawing a thin line of glue on the front of the quilt starting on the bottom center (within a ¼" seam allowance). Only put glue on 12” (or less) of the quilt at a time.
        • Step 13: Lay the binding on the glue with raw edge lined up with the quilt raw edge. Make
        • sure to start with the end which has the 45 degree fold. Press the binding in place by heat setting it with a hot dry iron.
        • Step 14: Continue glue basting the binding onto the quilt until you reach a corner. Glue and press the binding on all the way to the corner.
        • Step 15: At the corner fold the binding upward creating a 45 degree fold and right angle. Press with a hot dry iron to really make a crease definition on the 45 degree angle.
        • Step 16: Place glue down the next side of the quilt from the corner about 5".
        • Step 17: Fold the binding back downward along the next edge of the quilt. Make sure the fold lines up flush with the top edge of the quilt corner. Continue gluing and pressing down the side of the quilt.
        • Step 18: That should have created a 45 degree angle flap in the corner of your quilt.
        • Step 19: Place glue all the way up to the starting point and press the binding in place.
        • Step 20: When you reach the starting point lay the binding over the start and measure 4" over. Trim excess binding (past the 4") off with scissors.
        • Step 21: Open of the folded start of the binding to expose the wrong side of the fabric. Draw a line of glue about 4" long along the quilt edge.
        • Step 22: Tuck the binding snugly into the fold. Press the binding in place with a hot dry iron. Then put another small line of glue on the inner binding. Lay the folded binding back down in place and press with a hot dry iron. The end of your binding strip should now be completely hidden.
        • Step 23: Place glue along the 45 degree angle fold on both sides.
        • Step 24: Press the entire binding start/end with a hot dry iron to ensure it has heat set. Your binding should now be completely basted to your quilt with NO pins!

        Determine the Seam Allowance

        Depending on what width strip you are using(in my case 2.5”) we will need to figure out what the perfect seam allowance will be. steps25-28
        • Step 25: Use some excess left over folded binding for this part. We will fold it into thirds with the goal of leaving about ⅛" extra at the original folded edge. Start by folding the raw edges inward.
        • Step 26: Fold it one more time and wiggle it to get about ⅛” extra binding hanging over at the fold (see pink box). Press those folds in place with a dry hot iron to create a crease.
        • Step 27: Open the binding back up and you should now see the creases.
        • Step 28: Head over to your sewing machine and place your needle down into the crease closest to the raw edge.
        • Step 29: Using the fabric as a guide, mark your seam allowance with masking tape.
        • Step 30: Or if you have a guide bar like I do on my Juki you can attach it.

        Attaching the Binding

        • Step 31 (image above): Take your quilt to the sewing machine. Set the machine to a 1.8 - 2.0 stitch length and using your masking tape or guide bar as a guide begin sewing the binding in place (backing stitching at the start).
        • Step 32 (image above): When you approach a corner, fold the 45 degree angle flap out of the way and sew slowly until you are directly in the crease line of the angle. Stop right there with your needle down.
        • Step 33: With your needle still in down position, rotate the quilt to your right and sew off the edge.
        • Step 34: This should create a perfect little right angle of stitching.
        • Step 35: Lay your quilt back on your lap on the new side. Fold the 45 degree flap back upward out of the way. Start stitching from directly in the crease line of the fold (not the edge of the quilt!). Back stitch, but do not go too far back past the crease line! Sew every single corner in this manner.
        • Step 36: Sew back to where you started, back stitch and trim your threads.

        Folding and Securing the Binding

        Now we will fold over the binding to the back side of the quilt and prepare for machine or hand finishing. steps37-40
        • Step 37: Back at your pressing station lay the quilt in your lap and press the binding upward/out around the entire quilt.
        • Step 38: When you reach a corner fold the binding back around the quilt and gently press with your fingers (your miter should now be coming to life!).
        • Step 39: Flip the quilt over so the backing is showing. Put a line of glue directly on your stitch line, fold the binding over, and press it with a hot dry iron. The binding should be going over the stitching line and glue by an extra ⅛" (this is KEY, you must have at least an extra ⅛" all the way around the binding).
        • Step 40: It may help if you use your thumbnail to push the quilt into your binding as you fold and press. If you are right handed you will probably feel most comfortable working counter-clockwise and if you are left handed working clockwise around the quilt.
        • Step 41: When you reach a corner put glue all the way off the edge.
        • Step 42: Press the binding down. Your corner should have a perfect 45 degree angle flap.
        • Step 43: With your thumb, fold the miter over and pinch with your fingers. Make sure that it is a perfect 45 degree angle and everything matches up well.
        • Step 44: Place a little glue along the edge of the miter.
        • Step 45: Press miter gently with a hot dry iron.
        • Step 46: Continue down the next side of your quilt, gluing and pressing the binding in place. *Tip: Remember how important it is that your binding be an even width folded over along the entire quilt!
        • Step 47: Your entire binding should be glued in place  and look as if your binding and quilt is done! In fact if you are in a hurry to show off your quilt and want to finish it later you can actually tote your quilt around like this and the glue will stay in place. However, do not wash the quilt until the binding has been stitched, because the glue will wash right off.

        Finishing the Binding

        At this point you can either sit on your couch, relax, and hand sew your binding or quickly (under 5 mins) machine finish your binding. Due to joint pain I usually machine finish my bindings. This decision is really just personal preference.

        Hand Sewing the Binding

        Machine Stitching the Binding

        • Step 49: Take the quilt over to your machine and lay it out front side up! Set the stitch length to 2.0 - 2.2 and begin stitching on the front side directly in the fold/crease where the binding and quilt meet. Backstitch at the start.
        • Step 50: Stitch about 5" and then take a quick peak on the backside to make sure you are catching the binding properly.
        • Step 51: When you reach a corner  you should sew right into the corner, stop with the needle down, rotate the quilt, and keep going.
        • Step 52: If you look on the backside you should have a perfect miter stitched in place. Finally, when you are done stitching all the way around, do a spot test and check the entire binding to make sure the backside is all stitched. If you missed any spots go back over them.
        You're done! Now be sure to tag your beautiful quilt and enjoy!

        If you have any questions about this tutorial or find any errors, please send me an email. This post contains affiliate and sponsor links which I can make a small profit on when an item is purchased, but it is my promise to you that I only link to products I use and love!

        Alyssa Williams

        Alyssa Williams

        Creator of Pile O' Fabric

        Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.