• Binding For Babies

    Today, I'm presenting to you a short tutorial written by Michele Lancaster. If you frequent the message board, then you undoubtedly know her. In addition to releasing this tutorial in the newsletter, I'm also attaching it as a PDF file which you can download for easier copying and/or printing.

    Michele released it as a mini e-book. So if you've never downloaded an e-book before, here is a way for you to get the feel of what an e-book is. Here is the direct link to the PDF file download: binding_for_babies.pdf

    Binding For Babies
    By Michele Lancaster

    I am the worst procrastinator (or baby) when it comes to binding my quilts. This final step is really very easy and the result is a finished quilt you can use. It's a no-brainer! Perhaps by sharing my simple methods I will inspire myself to get some bindings done.


    Dust off the quilts that came back from the longarmer when your teens were toddlers. Remark to yourself that the fabric in some of those quilts MUST have been on sale. I only have three quilt hangers, so you are viewing just a portion of my problem.

    I'm picking a sock monkey quilt. My daughter used to like monkeys. Now she likes boys. Same thing.


    Locate your cut binding strips that you cut after making the top. If you were really organized, you would have pieced and pressed them too. I am not that organized. Here's my bag o' bindings. That yellow fabric gets to be the binding. Congratulations, yellow fabric.

    We're going to be making double-fold binding, which is the most common binding type. It's also the most durable binding.


    To cut your strips, match selvage to selvage and give your fabric a quick press. Everything should lay smoothly with no ripples. You don't want those silly "elbows" near the fold of your fabric.

    To figure out how many strips you will need, measure your top. Mine measured 47" x 57". Get a calculator and punch in 47 + 47 + 57 + 57 + 8 = 216. The extra 8" will give you plenty of room for those pro-looking mitered corners and the finish.


    Bindings are normally cut 2.5" wide by the width of fabric (WOF). If you are binding a smaller quilt or potholder, you can cut them a smaller width.

    Trim selvage edges.


    Here comes the fun part! This is so easy and makes sewing the binding down a cinch. Other methods create a bulky seam that invariably throws things off when you are sewing the binding to your quilt.

    Lay one binding strip face up. Place a second strip face down and at a 90-degree angle. Mark a diagonal line on the wrong side of the fabric with a pencil.

    You don't need that fancy ruler. Just use something with a straight edge. Note that the edges of both strips are lined up.


    To the machine! I use my regular presser foot and sew on the drawn line. Take a back stitch at the start and the end of the sewn line or use your fancy schmancy locking stitch at the beginning and end.

    Trim excess fabric 1/4" away from sewn line. Save triangles for a scrap quilt that you will never make.

    Continue adding strips until you get the length of binding you need to go around your quilt.


    To the iron! Fold over and press approximately 1/4" on the short side to create a neat edge. Then fold your binding in half and press. When you get to your joining seams, press open.


    Admire your perfectly pressed and ready-to-sew binding and promise yourself you will do this with each and every quilt top you make. Yeah, right.


    To the machine! Don't you love your machine? Have you named it? Some people do you know. I call mine "Red." She's sassy.

    Get your walking foot out and attach that baby to your sassy machine. A walking foot provides even fabric feed both top and bottom so you're not struggling to cram your quilt top and binding under a normal presser foot. If you don't have a walking foot, go get one. I'll wait.


    Roughly position your binding around the entire perimeter of your quilt and make sure none of your joining seams are going to end up on a corner. I sometimes skip this step. Don't tell anyone, okay?


    Put your binding along the edge of your quilt. You can see my wonderful longarmer trims the edges, but leaves a little batting and backing. We'll cut that off after we attach the binding, but that little extra does prevent your walking foot from falling off the edge.

    I'll be Mrs. Obvious and mention putting your raw edges (not the fold) along the edge of your quilt. Don't ask me how I know this.


    Start sewing three or four inches from the start of your binding. You are starting with the end you folded in and pressed. Use a 1/4" seam allowance. I have an edge on my walking foot that serves as my guide. Experiment and find something you can use as a guide.

    Note I don't pin anything. Pins are for wussies. Just keep that binding edge lined up with your quilt.


    Here's the trickiest part of the whole binding process. And once you do it a couple of times it becomes easy peasey.

    When you get to a corner, stop sewing 1/4" from the corner. You can measure and mark or just eyeball it. Lift the presser foot and rotate your quilt 90 degrees. Put the foot back down and sew off the edge.


    Lift the presser foot again and drag everything out so you can manhandle the binding.

    Fold the binding so it lines up evenly with the next side/edge. Fold over and hold in place.


    Rotate the quilt so you can start sewing the next edge. You're going to sew down that mitered corner and continue sewing down the binding until you reach another corner. Rinse and repeat until you get to where you started.


    When you get all the way around the quilt, trim the unfinished end of the binding leaving enough to tuck into the folded-over section of binding.

    There are some snazzy ways to join these ends, but I have yet to try them. This works for babies like me.

    Continue sewing until you reach where you began sewing. Ta da! You're on the home stretch!


    Trim your extra batting and backing taking care NOT to cut your binding. Pay special attention around corners.


    Now we're going to attach the binding to the back of your quilt. I use a blind stitch. You could easily machine sew the binding down by stitching on the top side and catching the loose edge on the back. I've had mixed results machine sewing, so I usually hand sew it.

    Take a bite of the backing just under the folded binding. Bring your needle up through the top edge. Take another stitch to secure and continue your blind stitching.


    When you get to a corner, fold the binding to create a miter. I usually take some blind stitches on both the back and front of the corner. And it's called blind stitching for a reason. Try to take small stitches and hide them well.


    Continue sewing your binding down using small blind stitches. Voila! You're done. Admire those neat corners. You're a rock star!

    • • •

    About the author:

    Michele Lancaster is a Florida native and shares her home with her husband, teenage son and daughter, and miniature Dachshund, Bones.

    By day, she runs Graphics Cafe, Inc., a small graphic design firm specializing in corporate branding and creative marketing. Her bold use of color and design has garnered numerous awards within the advertising industry.

    A lifelong fascination with collecting vintage textiles turned into a quilting and sewing hobby in 2007 when Michele decided to sew her first quilt, a postage stamp pattern. The tiny pieces didn't deter her and before long she was trying everything. She loves scrap quilts, traditional patterns using non-traditional fabrics, small quilts, and practicing new techniques.

    Her love of quilts can also be attributed to the two quilts her great grandmothers made her parents. Although they weren't around to teach her to sew, she believes she must possess some sort of family quilting gene.

    Michele has released an e-book called "How to Make a Doll Quilt" which shows how to make a doll quilt from start to finish. Be sure to check it out.

    Her user ID on the message board is Chele. Feel free to ask her any questions.
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