A Beginner’s Guide To Binding a Quilt

You did it! You quilted your beautiful quilt, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your quilt edging is the last part of your project.

So how do you conceal your edges? Prepare yourself for…the dreaded quilt binding. Actually, I love binding a quilt. It’s one of my favorite steps and not as intimidating or daunting as some would have you believe.

What is Quilt Binding?

Quilt binding is simply a folded strip of fabric that is used to conceal and bind the edges of your quilt to keep it from fraying. 

In this quilt binding tutorial, I'll show you how to sew the binding on a quilt completely with your sewing machine. Many quilters like to sew the binding by hand, but I prefer to use my sewing machine.

The benefits of using your sewing machine vs. stitching by hand include:

  • It saves time. Your sewing machine can stitch a lot faster than your hands.
  • It gives a uniform finish. As long as you take it slow, the stitching will look uniform and crisp. It’s not a race, but I know it feels like it when you’re so close to being finished.
  • There are more design possibilities. If your machine has decorative stitches, the possibilities are endless for extra creativity while binding a quilt. Just make sure the stitch you choose will have a good hold on your binding.
  • You'll have more secure stitches. You can be extra confident in your stitches, as they will be less likely to come undone over time.

Supplies You Will Need For Quilt Binding

Ready to get started? Here's what you'll need to bind your quilt:

How To Bind a Quilt: A Step by Step Tutorial

Step 1: Cut the fabric for your binding.

In this tutorial, I'll explain how to cut fabric using the cross-grain method. This means you will cut your fabric widthwise — from selvage to selvage. Most quilt patterns and kits have you cut your binding this way.

To figure out how much fabric you need for your binding, you need to measure the perimeter (all four sides) of your quilt. I like to add another 10” to this number to make sure I have enough fabric. For my quilt top (60”x 62”), the sum of the perimeter is 244”. I’ll add 10” to that and come up with 254”. 

  • Length of binding = perimeter + 10”
  • Width of binding before ironing = 2 ½” (You can do larger or smaller depending on your preference. Keep in mind that you will be ironing the strips in half. I like the look of 2 ½” binding best.)
  • Strips to cut — Take your length of binding total and divide it by the width of your fabric. Most quilting cotton will be 40”- 44” wide. If your number has a bunch of decimals after it, then round up. For example, mine is 40” wide. I divide 254 by 40, which = 6.35. I cut 6 ½” strips.

Fold your fabric in half widthwise and make sure your edge is straight. Now line up your ruler to your desired width and cut — but be sure not to let the ruler slip. If you are using scissors, mark the line on the fabric first with your water soluble marker, then cut. Cut your required amount of strips.

Step 2: Sew strips together and iron.

Take two of your strips, and lay one horizontally, right side up. Now take the other strip and lay it vertically-right side down on top of the other strip. Your right sides will be facing each other. Line up your edges, so they are square.

Use your ruler as a straight edge, lining up the bottom left corner with the top right corner. Draw a line along that edge with your water soluble marker. Stitch along that line and trim down to ¼” seam. Repeat this step until all your strips are sewn together.

The reason we are stitching them diagonally is that there will be fewer layers to sew through when we are attaching the binding to the quilt. Those seams will look a lot less bulky.

Now take your long strip to your ironing board and iron those seams you just stitched open. This will help keep the seam less bulky as well.

Start at one end of your strip and begin folding it in half. Be sure your seams are on the inside of the fold. Begin ironing down that fold. I like to use Best Press spray at this step, as it helps get a firm crease in the fabric and makes the binding completely flat. Iron the entire strip until you have about 4” left at the end.

Go to the very end of your strip that hasn’t been ironed yet and fold the end about ¼” into the strip. Iron the rest of the strip, so the ¼” fold is now inside the binding. This will ensure you have no raw edges exposed. 

Step 3: Attaching the binding to the top of the quilt.

Take the end with the folded edge and line up the raw edge of your binding with the raw edge of your quilt. I like to start about halfway down one of the sides of the quilt to make sure I have plenty of room to work with my corners.

Begin stitching with a ¼” seam allowance about 3” down from the folded edge. Take it nice and slow, as you want your stitching to be as straight as possible. You can pin or clip the binding to the quilt top if you would like. I prefer not using pins, so I will not use them here, but if it makes it easier for you, then, by all means, pin away!

Keep your binding held taute so you don’t get any bumps or puckers in the binding. When you start getting close to a corner, start slowing down. These next few steps are important to get a nice, clean mitered corner.


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How to Bind a Quilt with Mitered Corners

Stop stitching when you are ¼” from the corner edge of your quilt top. If your sewing machine has a needle down feature, be sure to use it. It will hold your quilt as you pivot it. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, don’t worry — you can still do this, but you need to take it slow and not shift the quilt top under your needle.

Once you stopped stitching ¼” from the edge, lift your presser foot and pivot your quilt top 45°. Continue your stitches to the corner and backstitch a couple of stitches. This ensures you have a solid hold on the corner. Cut your thread.

Now pivot your quilt top again so you are ready to start stitching the next edge. Take your binding and fold it back 45° right against that diagonal line you just stitched. This step creates your mitered corner on your quilt top. 

Fold the binding back down and line up the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges of the quilt. Now begin stitching right at the edge, and be sure to backstitch to make sure these first few stitches hold. This is your first of four corners!

Follow these directions and stitch down the rest of your binding until you are about 3” from where you laid the folded edge of the beginning of your strip.

As you can see, you have excess binding material, so now you want to trim it at an angle. We are going to tuck that into the pocket we created at the beginning of attaching the binding. 

Ensure all the raw edges line up and then slowly continue your stitches until you reach the first stitches you made. Backstitch and get ready to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt!

Step 4: Attach the binding to the back of the quilt.

Flip your quilt over and fold the binding over to the back of the quilt. Begin stitching like before, taking it nice and slow. Try to stitch as close to the edge of the binding as possible. 

These stitches also will be visible on the top of your quilt, so keep that in mind when trying to keep them straight. Tip: Use invisible thread in your bobbin so those stitches will be (almost) invisible on your quilt top.

When you get closer to a corner, stop stitching about 4” away from the edge. Fold the binding over your corner on that edge first, then fold the other edge over.

Slowly continue stitching until your needle goes through both corner pieces. 

Pivot the quilt, so you are ready to continue stitching the next side.

Follow these steps to complete attaching your binding. Don’t forget to backstitch at the very end to hold those stitches in place. 

You did it! I hope this tutorial has shown you that binding isn’t a drag and that it’s a fun and beautiful final step in creating a quilt. Enjoy your beautiful masterpiece.

Binding a quilt can seem daunting, but our step-by-step tutorial reveals it's easier than you think. Finish off your quilt with a beautiful binding.

About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.

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