Patchwork and quilting basics 3 – Binding

Patchwork and quilting basics 3 – Binding

To finish a patchwork quilt, you can use bias binding to neaten the edges. You could use a similar colour binding to the patchwork so that it blends in or choose a colour that contrasts with the patchwork colours so that it creates a frame.

You can make your own bias binding or buy ready made. It’s quicker and easier to buy the bias binding and I feel like it wastes less fabric. However, if you have some large pieces of fabric left over from your patchwork that you can use or you have the ideal colour fabric to go with your patchwork, then you may want to make your own. You may also need to make your own bias binding if your quilt is quite thick or you would like a wide border as the range of bias binding widths that you can buy is quite limited. 

The width of bias binding you require is four times the width of the binding you want to be visible on the front of your quilt. Here I used 25mm (approximately 1 inch) bias binding that I bought on a roll. When opened it is 50mm wide (approximately 2 inches) and will make binding around the quilt of width 12.5mm (approximately 1/2 inch). This is probably the minimum size of bias binding that could be used for a quilt. If you used thicker wadding, you will need wider bias binding.

First you need to open out the end of the bias binding fully to 50mm and fold the cut end over by about 10mm. Press it to make it stay in place.

Now take the bias binding and, starting at the bottom of the quilt working clockwise, pin it to the front edge of the quilt (photo below). I start at the bottom of the quilt so that the join between the ends of the bias binding is in a less noticeable place. We work clockwise so that sewing is easier.

When you get to a corner, pin as I have done below.

Make a firm diagonal crease, open out the binding and place a pin diagonally along the crease to mark where you should sew up to.

When you have pinned the binding all the way round, cut the binding an inch or so longer and pin it over the folded end of the binding.

Sew along the crease nearest the top of the quilt taking out the pins carefully as you go. Start before the end of the binding to secure it. Stop at the pin you placed diagonally and fasten off with back stitch or sew on the spot. Cut the thread (see the photo below).

Take out the pin and fold the binding back.

Sew along the crease as before, right from the edge, and repeat this process for the other three corners. Sew all the way around until you get back to the beginning where you should sew over about an inch of the first sewing and fasten off.

Starting at one edge, fold the binding at the point where you just sewed and back behind the quilt edge. Pin it into place. When you get to a corner, fold and pin as in the photos below (front then back).

Now you have to make a choice. You can either hand sew the binding into place using whip stitch all the way around on the back of quilt (below top) or machine sew all the way around the binding on the front of the quilt (below bottom). If you are machine sewing, it would be a good idea to move the pins to the front of the quilt. Hand sewing is used for wall quilts because you can’t see the stitches but it may not be suitable for a quilt that is actually going to be used on a bed. But it’s really up to you.

Your quilt is finished!

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