Binding Tutorial Part 3

Warning :: Very long and detailed post! 

Now comes the fun part – curling up on your sofa in front of the TV, with your quilt, and attaching the binding.  Of course you can always stitch in the ditch on the front of your quilt to hold the backside of the binding down, but I think it looks so much nicer to hand stitch it down – and it’s really not that hard!  I can usually finish it in one sitting.  Which is usually a short sitting since I have a short attention span.

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Getting Ready :: Tying the Knot

First I start by cutting a long length of hand stitching thread.  I use hand quilting thread because of it’s higher tension strength.  When you hand sew, your tension is much greater than a machine, and if you don’t want your thread breaking on you when you sometimes have to tug tight, it’s a good idea to use hand quilting threads.  But not necessary.  Just go gently if using regular machine thread.

1.  Loop thread towards end of length.

2.  Wrap the end around your loop (going into the hole you’ve created) two or three times.  Pull end to tighten and form knot.  You are essentially creating a double knot without having to knot it two individual times, hoping that the second time around lands over the first time around.

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Sewing It Down :: First Stitches

1.  Beginning somewhere in the middle of one side of your quilt (I like to start with one of the long sides) insert your needle just beyond the seam allowance from where you stitched your binding onto the front of your quilt, making sure to go through not only the backing, but also the binding.  Don’t go through the quilt top!

2. Draw the needle and thread through, gently tugging when the knot reaches the backing, so as to nestle the knot into the inside of the quilt.  This will help keep your thread in place once the knot is nestled inside the batting.

3.  Fold over your binding so that it just barley covers where your thread is leaving the backing.  This is important, as it will hide your stitches from view when complete.

**Note** You may choose to use clips to help you hold your binding in place, but it is not necessary.  I now find that it is much faster to just hold it in place with my left hand as I go (I’m a righty).

4.  Insert your needle into the fold of your binding at the spot right above where your thread has exited the backing.  Make sure the needle is going into the fold and not all the way through it.  You want your needle to be inside that fold.

**Note** To visualize this stitch, you will be creating a straight stitch from where it exits the backing to where it enters the binding.

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5.  Leaving your needle inside the fold of the fabric, move it along a small distance (1/4” to 1/2” should work nicely) and exit the folded fabric at the fold.

6.  Gently pull the thread taunt.  This brings the binding down against the quilt.  Don’t pull it too tight or it will pucker your binding.  Although, once washed, all mistakes will most likely disappear.  So don’t stress over this part.

Now that the first stitch is complete, we generally work the rest of the stitches the same, but it can be done in a more fluid movement now.

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Going At It :: Blind Stitch Dissected

1.  Insert needle into quilt below where you exited the binding from pervious stitch (it looks a little off here because the fabric is slightly twisted to show you every part of this stitch.)

2a.  Rock your needle back up through the batting and come out of the backing very close to where you inserted your needle in the previous step.

2b.  Have your needle enter the fold of the binding and travel along the fold approximately 1/2” (or what you feel is a comfortable stitch length to secure the binding to the quilt).

3.  Exit the binding on the fold and pull gently until thread is taunt.

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That’s it, that’s a blind stitch.  It’s kind of like a ladder stitch if you are familiar with that.  It’s the same basic idea.  This stitch truly is a “blind” stitch.  I love that it hides all of my thread and all you see is binding connected to backing with out a thread showing.  There are many ways to attach your binding to your backing and they all work beautifully, this just happen to be the way I like to do mine!  It is neither the right way nor the best way, just my way.  See how the binding pulls in a little bit at even intervals?  This is where I’ve stitched it down to the quilt.  But if you click and make this image larger, you will notice that you see no thread (or very, very little of it).

Corners

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**An additional post with more detailed information on forming perfectly mitered corners can be found in here.**

1.  Continue your blind stitch along the length until you reach your seam allowance on the other side of the quilt.  Stitch right up to that point.

2.  Open out your binding on the left (since I sew right handed) and have the angled corner lay as flat as possible.  Then keeping it in place as best you can with your thumb over the angled part that hangs to the left, fold in the binding.  That is hard to explain.  The gist of it is to make sure your fabric comes over straight without bunching of fabric in your fold.  It’s easier done than said.  When you fold over, make sure the interior edges of the miter meet up, forming a nice right angle.  You might have to mess with it a little to match up.  Sometimes I put a clip on the left side of the binding, as close as I can get to that 90 degree angle, to help hold this in place while I stitch.

3.  Holding firmly in place (with thumb or clip or pins) stitch up the length of the miter.  I can usually get three stitches in there.  Take your time.  Make little stitches.  I also start my first stitch going from the backing up through the binding I was working on, through to the new section of binding, catching all three layers together.  Then I continue to work up the miter going into the binding on the top (the binding I was originally working with) through the new binding to the left.

4.  When I have gone as high as I can, I tug my thread to make sure my stitches are tight and my miter is held in place (and that my stitches aren’t showing) and I insert the needle from the top straight down through the binding on the left, right at the 90 degree angle.

**Note** You may choose to stitch back down through the miter as you went up it to help hold it in place even better.  I don’t usually do this and don’t feel it’ matters either way.  Also, you can insert your needle all the way through to the front when you reach the top and come back through the miter on the front side if you would like to tack that down as well, then when your each the bottom 90 degree corner of the miter, just push all the way through your quilt again to bring your needle back to the back.

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Now you just continue on as you were with your blind stitching until you reach another corner.  I try and keep my stitch length very short around the miters to have the best hold possible.  Lots of small stitches means more staying power.  I think I made it sound like a lot more work than it is.  If you would actually like to see me do this on video, I can do that.  But you might also like to go to You Tube and search for videos on binding, there might be something on there that works for you better than this tutorial.  We all teach differently, and learn differently.  I know when I’m learning something new I watch lots of videos and read lots of tutorials until I find what works best for me.

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Need More Thread! :: Tying Off

When I get to a few inches from the end of my thread, I tie off and nestle my knot in the backing.  To do this I make a loop and wrap the thread around my needle twice and pull the needle through those twists and try and draw the knot as close to the binding as possible.  I usually hold the loop in place with my left thumb close to the binding where the thread exited and pull.  This helps the knot to stay in that vicinity.

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Then I insert it close to the seam allowance stitch (closer than this usually) and make sure my needle exits just beyond where the knot would lay if stretched to the left (hard to explain).  I do this so that I can pull my thread back through the backing and have it hold the binding that I stitched down stay in place.  I don’t want it to gap up at that spot.  I want it to be held nice and tight to the backing.

Now I thread my needled and begin again.  I always begin stitching back a few stitches in my binding to help secure that end.  Also, when I get back to the beginning, I stitch beyond where I started a few stitches.  When I tie off, I make sure that my ending knot will firmly hold the binding in place, but since I am stitching beyond my starting point a few stitches, this really shouldn’t be a problem.  Just insurance.

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Questions?  Leave a comment with your questions and I’ll answer them in the comments as well as try and respond personally to your email.  Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do binding, this is just what works best for me and I like to share that with you.  Google and search You Tube to find other ways that might be more useful to you, or help you to better understand a certain aspect of binding.  I’m always here if you have questions – just email!

Binding Tutorial Part 1 and Part 2.

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  • Great tutorial! I don’t quilt much, but I do bind things and that is a great way to do it. It really ensures that the binding looks nice. I always seem to end up with parts of the binding being missed. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve had trouble with my blind stitch for binding for awhile and your tutorial makes perfect sense. I got so frustrated with how it looked on my last quilt that after I hand sewed it all, I went back and stiched in the ditch and then pulled out all my hand stiching.

  • Thank you so much for this great tutorial! It’s so thorough and easy to understand! I was having a lot of trouble with my stitches still showing and now I think I’ve figured out where I was going wrong.

  • Hey, just so you know, the Chinese stuff is spam. They link to porn and other obscure websites. If you can take remove comments, I’d do so.

    I love the blog. I’m teaching myself how to sew baby blankets and this is really helpful.

  • Thanks SO much for this awesome tutorial! I just finished my first hand-sewn binding (after machine sewing two other quilts) and I’m so excited to have finally done it! Your instructions and pictures are awesome . . . thank you again!

  • Great walk-through on binding!! I’ve been searching and searching to find a different method that hides the stitching, and yours is the best I have found so far, thank you=D

  • I have been sewing for quite a while (read 50 years in the “quite a while” place), and I think this is the best tutorial I have ever seen. Thank you for being so careful for teaching every step. I cann’t seem to remember all of the little things when I am trying to teach it in person.

  • I have been sewing for quite a while (read 50 years in the “quite a while” place), and I think this is the best tutorial I have ever seen. Thank you for being so careful for teaching every step. I cann’t seem to remember all of the little things when I am trying to teach it in person.

  • Thanks for a great tutorial! I have a couple of questions. For the corner, you say to stitch from the folded edge. Stitching to the corner, you stop at the line drawn. But then after turning to stitch the next side, you stitch from the edge–(not the drawn line? Also what size needle do you use? Thanks again for your help!

  • My binding seems to vary in size around the quilt-is that because I’ve not trimmed it well? Or maybe that the binding is too wide? I’m only on my third quilt, so total beginner, but a but disappointed with how this one is looking more like sausage links than a garden hose! ;)

    • I can’t say with certainty without seeing it. I always square my quilt before I sew on the binding, that way I can match the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt. I then quilt with a 1/4″ seam allowance and as long as I don’t stray from the 1/4″ seam allowance, the binding should be the same all around. It could be that your binding wasn’t the same width when cut, or that your seam allowance is varying as you stitch. I wish I could be more help! Maybe if you sent some pictures I could see better what was happening.

  • Thank you so much for your detailed directions on how to do this. I am very new to quilting and always wondered how this blind stitch is done; I think my mother-in-law was an expert at this. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn the technique before she passed away last summer at the age of 94. Now I can’t wait to practice this stitch and will always think of her when I do:) Thanks again!

  • I love this tutorial but would you consider doing a video? My mom showed me this method about 15 years ago and I love that you see no stitching! After watching tons of videos online your blog is the first one to show it like this and help me refresh my memory : ) but I’m still a bit nervous over the corners. Mine just don’t seem to lay as smooth and I think I’m not catching it just right. I’m just dying to get those perfect corners and unfortunately I seem to be a visual “real time” learner lol. I am going to share this with all my other newbie quilters as your method of hand stitching the binding is superb! Thank you so very much!

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’ve made a few quilted potholders and always struggled with this part and disliked how my stitching showed. I’m finally making my first actual quilt and wanted to improve my binding, so I’ve been pouring over tutorials – this one is so helpful!

  • Great tutorial. This is exactly how I hand stitch And going up the mitres is not a common approach . I had to comment as I am in the process of finishing a quilt using the same Swell by Urban Chicks fabric as you used in your example quilt I was thinking of trying machine stitching the binding But I think I would regret it in the end.