We’ve now come to the end of Modern Trees, literally. Today I will show you how to bind using my favorite method – double fold binding. It’s the same method I use for all of my quilts because it’s easy to do and very sturdy.
Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″
It took me a total of 2 hours to sew on the binding and 5 hours to stitch it down by hand. (If you would prefer a machine finish, see my machine-binding tutorial here.)
Step 1 – Trim and Square up Your Quilt (30 Minutes)
Starting in one of the corners, use a large square acrylic ruler and trim off the excess batting and backing so that it is flush with the quilt top.
Use a long ruler to square up the sides the same way. Try to keep your quilt as straight and flat as possible while you do this.
You can also lay out several rulers end to end to ensure you are cutting a parallel line the whole time. Discard your scraps, (or same them to use as stuffing for animal pillows).
Step 2 – Calculate and Cut Your Binding Strips (15 Minutes)
I like to measure the entire perimeter of my quilt and add 10″. That gives me a good estimate of how much binding length I need for my quilt. For example, my quilt measures approximately 44″ x 51″ after trimming, so I need a total length of 200″ of binding.
Using 40″ as a measurement of my strip length: 200/40 = 5 strips of binding to cut. I prefer to cut my binding strips at 2 1/4″ wide so that I end up with a nice narrow binding. However, you can cut yours wider so you have more that will fold over on the back. It’s really a personal preference.
Because I had some long skinny chunks of fabric left over, I actually cut only 4 strips, parallel to the selvedge because they were longer than 40″. That works, too!
Step 3 – Sew Continuous Strips (15 minutes)
Sew each strip to the next one, right sides together at a 90 degree angle across the diagonal. Sewing mitered seams like this helps distribute the bulk. If needed, you can draw a straight line across the diagonal, or press one of the ends along the diagonal to form a sewing line.
Hint: when working with solids that do not have a right/wrong side, be sure to keep track of which side you are sewing on so the seams end up on the same side each time.
This is what it should look like on the front side (minus the fuzz):
Repeat until you have one continuous strip. Trim all of the seams to 1/4 inch and cut off one end of the strip at a 45″ angle to start. Press the seams open to reduce bulk.
Hint: apply starch to your continuous binding strip before pressing in half. The starch will act as a glue, holding the pieces closed so they can be applied to the quilt easier.
Press your binding in half with wrong sides together along the entire length.
Step 4 – Attach Your Binding to the Quilt (1 Hour)
I always attach my binding to the front of the quilt whether finishing by hand or machine.
Hint: Before you begin, ”walk” the binding around the edge of the quilt to make sure that none of the seams end up in the corner and that it is long enough.
Starting at least 5″ x 6″ away from the end of the corner, leave an unsewn binding tail of about 6″ – 8″. Use a 50 weight cotton thread (like Aurifil) in a color to match your binding.
Optional extra step – on this quilt, I tried something different. Using Sharon Schamber’s glue tips and regular Elmer’s washable school glue, I glued the binding to the front of the quilt before I stitched it down.
I just added a small bead of glue within the seam allowances to hold everything in place. I glued one length of binding, pressed it to set the glue, then stitched one side at a time all the way around the quilt. You could also pin in place before stitching also.
When you get to a corner, fold the binding up, even with the side of the quilt, then back down upon itself to create a tuck.
This will form the miter on the front. Give it a quick press on the corner so that you have a noticeable stopping line when stitching.
Time to stitch! I like to use 1/4″ seam allowance and again, match my sewing thread to my binding. Stitch all the way down one side (leaving that starting tail trailing off at the beginning). When you get 1/4″ away from the corner, stop, backstitch once or twice and sew off the side.
Pull the quilt off of the machine and check your miter on the front. If it looks good and even, continue around the rest of the quilt in the same way. Before stitching, glue down the next side of the quilt (if desired). When beginning the next line of stitching, grasp your threads so they don’t get caught on the bulk in the corner.
Continue sewing and gluing each side of the binding until you end up back at the beginning. Be sure to leave an ending tail of 6″ – 8″ to finish off with. Trim off any excess binding tail, still leaving enough of an overlap to work with. Open up the end of the tail and gently place the beginning tail inside it.
Using the cut angled end as a guide, lightly mark a line right up next to it. Then cut 1/2″ away from this measurement.
Put the two tail ends right side together, and sew with 1/4″ seam to complete the continuous loop of binding.
Check it against your quilt to make sure the binding will lie nice and flat. Glue the rest of the binding in place, press to set the glue, and finish machine stitching the binding to the front of the quilt.
Pin or clip your binding to the back of the quilt (using 50-100 Clover Wonder Clips) and get ready to finish!
Step 5 – Finish Stitching by Hand (5 hours)
Put on a good movie and enjoy the relaxing process of hand work for a pretty finish.
Using the same cotton thread you used to sew on the binding, thread your needle with about 18″ of thread. Wrap the thread around the needle 3 times and pull it to the end of you thread to create a quilter’s knot. You can double your thread for extra strength.
Tuck the knot underneath the binding, then grab a bite of the backing of the quilt and then a bite of the binding to complete each stitch.
When you get to the corners, be sure to sew them closed. Take a few stitches on the back to close the miter. Push the needle through to the front, close the front of the miter, then push the needle to the back again.
When you are near the end of a length of thread, make a knot, then take a stitch through the backing and batting only, pop it through the backing and cut off the excess. Continue in this manner until you’ve sewn down the entire quilt.
Congratulate yourself on a great finish!
Modern Trees by Christa Watson 43″ x 50″
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