(Editor’s note – to view a video of this tutorial, please scroll to the bottom of this post)
Lots of quilters cringe when it’s time to marry the beginning and ending binding strips together with a seam. It’s common to employ the avoidance maneuver instead, choosing to fold over a small seam allowance on one strip and the slipping the raw end of the other strip inside before sewing them both to the quilt top (see images below).
While this is a speedy solution, it makes a noticeable ridge or lump at that point which will wear more quickly than other areas of the binding. And unless the fold is sewn shut, it’s a place that can get caught and torn open.
It’s actually very easy to join those two binding strips with a mitered seam that will eliminate the bulk and make your starting and ending point invisible.
For the purpose of this tutorial I’m going to assume you understand how to prepare binding strips for your project and attach the binding to your quilt edges. However, you will need to know the width of your binding strips before you folded them to make your binding. You can choose what that width is based on your preferences—it doesn’t matter for this technique. But you’ll need that number when it’s time to sew the first and last ends together.
Also plan on making your binding about 16-20 inches longer than what you need for your quilt’s perimeter to give you plenty of wiggle room as you learn this technique. Once you get the hang of it you can get by with less. Prepare your quilt the way you normally do for binding. (Some quilters go ahead and trim away the excess backing and batting before attaching binding, while others wait to do that after it is sewn on. The choice is yours.)
Follow these easy steps to achieve a “perfect finish” to your binding attachment process. In this example, I have cut my original binding strips 2-1/2” wide before joining them and pressing them in half. Therefore the instructions will use that measurement to teach you the method. But during Step Four you will use the measurement that matches the width of YOUR binding strips before folding and pressing them:
When first attaching your binding, leave about an 8-inch tail of binding unattached before starting to sew it to your quilt. Align your binding’s raw edge with the edge of your quilt. Secure the starting point with a few back stitches. Sew the binding to the quilt top ¼-inch in from the raw edge of the binding.
Continue sewing the binding around the quilt until you are about 12 inches away from your starting point as in the photo below. Secure the stitching with some back stitches.
Align your starting strip along the quilt’s edge as if it were already sewn in place. Secure with a pin or two if necessary to keep it from shifting. If you’ve left the starting strip super-long, you may need to trim some of the excess off so that you have enough room to manipulate the two strips and join them. Leave at least 7-8 inches of the starting tail still intact.
Place a pin next to the end of the starting strip as shown in the photo below. Overlap the ending strip on top of your starting strip. Pin in place if necessary to avoid shifting.
From the marking pin you added, measure down the overlapped strips 2-1/2 inches (this amount should be equal to the width you originally cut your binding strips—2-1/2 inches in my example. Mark this location on the top strip as illustrated in the photo below.
Now cut the top ending strip off right at this mark.
Remove any pins you’ve used to temporarily hold the binding strips in place. Open up the binding pieces and rotate the ends so that the right sides are together and aligned as shown in the photo below.
Adjust the quilt top as necessary to make the overlap easy to manage. Pin the two sections together and mark a seam line as shown in the photo below. Sew across the two binding pieces on your marked line.
Gently fold the binding back together and check for fit along the quilt edge before trimming and pressing the seam. Adjust if needed. When you are satisfied with the fit, trim the seam allowance to ¼-inch, and press the seam open.
Refold the binding strip wrong sides together and finish attaching it to your quilt, pinning if necessary.
That’s it! Easy, beautiful binding with no noticeable beginning and end!