You’ve heard the phrase “it’s not a quilt until it’s quilted,”…which is very true. But it also is not a very usable quilt until it is bound! Adding the binding means you’re in the home stretch. Unfortunately when we see home plate before us we tend rush through that last step, whipping around corners and ending in a sloppy finish. Or maybe the problem isn’t speed at all, but rather a lack of knowledge on how to make binding corners look neat and tidy without lots of fuss.
We can help with the knowledge part! Here are some easy steps for making your binding corners square and professional.
When attaching your binding, use a walking foot to prevent the binding layers from shifting. If you don’t have one, use lots of pins to keep the layers in place. Prepare your binding strips the way you normally do, using angled seams to join strips. Fold the binding in half with wrong sides together. Align the raw edges and press along the length of the binding.
Step 1: audition your binding placement
If a binding seam ends up in the corner like you see in the photo below, it is very hard to make the corner look nice.
Take a few minutes and lay your binding all the way around the edge of your quilt until the ends meet again. Adjust the placement around the perimeter so that any seams in your binding fabric are not near the corners.
You can also adjust the end overlap location this way as well. When you are satisfied, mark where you want to start attaching your binding to the quilt with a pin. Be sure to leave at least a 12-inch tail of binding beyond your starting point so you can properly finish the ends.
Step 2: attach the binding to your quilt
I prefer to trim my quilt edges using a rotary cutter before adding my binding. Others prefer to trim the excess batting and backing after attaching it. Quilt judges are looking for binding that is both straight AND full, meaning that the batting always extends all the way out to the folded edge of the binding, filling it completely. Use whatever trimming method gives you the best results.
Align the raw edge of your binding strip with the raw edge of your quilt. Stitch to within ¼-inch of the corner, then backstitch a few stitches.
Step 3: flip and sew the corners
Fold the binding up, aligning the raw edge of the binding in a straight line with the raw edge of the quilt on the next side. This creates a 45-degree angle on the binding. Finger press the fold.
Fold the binding down along the next side of the quilt. Align the raw edges together. Check that the top fold is parallel to the first edge of the quilt.
Sew down the side of the quilt, repeating this process at each corner.
Step 4: join the binding ends
This tutorial focuses on how to make your binding corners neat and tidy. But you’ll also want the binding ends to look great, too. Watch our APQS Video Tutorial on joining your binding ends together.
Step 5: trim the corners
This little trick removes the bulk in the binding corners, allowing the binding to fold nicely and lay flat and square. In the binding seam allowance, snip along the top fold of the binding up to the stitching line.
Pull the binding seam allowance back to reveal the little triangle fold of fabric from the binding.
Fold the quilt back out of the way, and trim that small triangle away by cutting just next to your stitching line. Do this on all four corners.
Step 6: fold the corners in place and stitch the binding
Re-fold the binding back in place. Press the binding away from the quilt top and turn it to the back to form a neat angled fold. Pin the folded edge in place.
Turn the quilt over and fold the next edge over the quilt, forming a neat mitered corner on the back side. Pin in place.
Sew the binding in place using a short blind stitch by hand. For a professional finish, also sew the binding corner folds closed on both the front and back of the quilt. Voila! You’ll have a picture-perfect finish!
Designer Patrick Lose has been teaching binding to his students for years. To learn more about his method click here.