For the neatest of finishes on your patchwork projects, it has to be a double-fold binding. If you’ve never tried this method before, we’ll show you just how to sew binding on a quilt, with step-by-step projects and a starter placemat and coasters project to get you practising your new skills! Let’s begin…
The instructions in this Quilt School tutorial (and most of our projects!) use double-fold binding. To make double-fold binding, you simply need one long strip of fabric, pressed in half lengthways, with wrong sides together.
The ‘double’ fold comes when you attach the binding to your quilt and fold it over.
The most common binding width is 21⁄2in, which allows for about 3⁄8in of quilt thickness. You can adjust this width, as needed, for your quilt batting.
How to sew double-fold binding on a quilt
Attaching your binding
Step one: Starting at the centre bottom of your quilt and following the traditional or seamed method (see below), attach the double-fold binding with raw edges aligned using a 1⁄4in seam. End your line of stitching 1⁄4in from the first corner of the quilt. Backstitch a few stitches to secure. Remove the quilt from your machine, and fold the binding up, away from the quilt, at a 90-degree angle.
Step two: Using a binding clip to hold the corner, fold the binding back down onto your quilt, aligning the raw edges along the next side. Clip your binding in place along this entire edge. Stitch this edge down, starting and stopping 1⁄4in from each corner, as before. Repeat steps 1-2 until all four corners are mitred, and finish according to your chosen method (see below).
Step three: Set the binding seam by pressing your stitching in place. With the quilt top face up, press the binding away from the quilt, working one edge at a time. Don’t worry about flattening the corners yet.
Flip the quilt over and begin pressing the binding to the reverse, extending this fold all the way to the end of the binding along one side. Clip in place.
Step four: Fold the next edge up over the quilt, completing the mitre at the corner. Work your way around the quilt until all sides are folded and clipped in place. Make sure the folded edge covers the stitched seam on the reverse of your quilt by about 1⁄8in.
Attaching to the reverse
Step five: Many people choose to hand finish their binding, stitching the folded edge with invisible stitches to the reverse. We used a contrasting thread here so that you can see the stitches, but if you choose a thread that matches your binding, the stitches will blend right in. Remember to take a few stitches along the folds of your mitred corners to hold these in place.
Step six: You could also machine stitch to finish, using a ditch quilting foot. With your quilt face up, stitch in the ditch between your quilt and binding. When you reach a corner, put the needle down and pivot before sewing the next side. This will catch down the folded edge of binding on the back, while giving you an invisible line of stitching on the front.
Starting and finishing your binding
Here are two ways to start and finish your binding. The traditional method is great for small items, such as mini quilts and coasters, while the seamed method gives you a more uniform finish on longer edges.
- To start off, unfold one end of your binding, trim at a 45-degree angle and press under by 1⁄2in along the short edge. Align the unfolded raw edge with your quilt and stitch down 3-5in. Refold the binding and continue stitching at the point where you left off.
- To finish off, trim the end of the binding so it overlaps the beginning folded edge by about 1in. Tuck this end into the folded binding at the start and pin in place. Finish stitching past the raw edge, making sure you sew down both the start and end of the binding.
- Start sewing your binding leaving an unsewn 8in tail. Continue around the quilt, stopping 8in before the start of the binding. Lay one end of binding along the edge of the quilt. Trim the strip at about the halfway point of the unstitched edge, cutting the strip straight.
- Lay the remaining end of binding over the top, and mark where the strips meet. Measure the width of the unfolded binding strip, add this to the length, and trim the strip at this point. So if you are using a 21⁄2in strip, the two binding ends should overlap by 21⁄2in.
- Unfold the two ends and place right sides together, so the pieces are at right angles to one another. Draw a 45-degree diagonal line across one end and sew along the drawn line. Trim the seam to 1⁄4in and finger press open. Refold your binding and finish attaching to the quilt.
Binding clips are a lot easier to use than pins because they easily clip over the multiple layers used in binding.
Ditch Quilting Foot
For machine-finished binding, this foot will help you achieve a flawless finish by hiding your final seam from the front.
For hand-finishing binding, invisible thread is the perfect choice, especially if you’re not confident with your stitches. Otherwise, choose a thread that matches the colour of your binding.
How to make a placemat and coaster set
Get binding and freshen up your dining table with our easy-sew table settings. Make the border of your project really stand out with a bright and bold binding fabric.
You will need…
To make one coaster and one placemat:
- Coaster fabric nine (9) 2in squares
- Placemat fabric nine (9) 21⁄2in squares
- Background fabric one (1) fat quarter
- Backing fabric one (1) fat quarter
- Binding fabric one (1) fat quarter
- Batting 18in x 22in
Coaster: 41⁄2in square approx
Placemat: 14in x 16in approx
Seam allowances are ¼in throughout, unless otherwise noted
Solid fabrics: we’ve used Kona Solids in Goldfish and Pool.
Step 1: From the background fabric cut one (1) 81⁄2in x 61⁄2in piece and one (1) 101⁄2in x 141⁄2in piece.
Step 2: Sew your 21⁄2in squares together in three rows of three. Then sew the rows together to form a square.
Step 3: Sew the 81⁄2in x 61⁄2in background fabric to one edge of the square. Sew the remaining background piece to the 141⁄2in edge (Fig 1). This forms your placemat top.
Piecing the mat… Use bold fabrics from your stash for the pieced square
Step 4: Sew your 2in squares together in three rows of three. Then sew the rows together to form a square. This will form your coaster.
Step 5: Layer your backing fabric (right side down) and batting with the placemat and coaster on top (right side up) to make a quilt sandwich and quilt as desired. Trim away excess batting and backing.
Step 6: Cut seven (7) 21⁄2in x 22in strips of fabric for the binding and join into one length using diagonal seams. Fold in half lengthways, wrong sides together, to form the double-fold binding. If you want to use different colours, cut two strips for the coaster and five strips for the placemat.
Step 7: Bind the edges of each piece, following your preferred method from the technique focus. Since these are small pieces, it’s a great way to experiment with different techniques. Why not try different methods for each coaster or placemat to find the combination you like best!