Quick and Easy Quilt Binding Tutorial

I would say that the process of making a quilt can be broken down to 4 stages: design, piecing, quilting and finally binding.

I thoroughly enjoy designing and piecing quilts. It’s comparable to putting together a giant colorful puzzle. I love the way a print is transformed when you cut it down to size and pair it with other prints. Fabric pieced together becomes a lovely work of art, one that personalizes your taste combined with the fabric designer’s color pallette.

Now that I have attempted quilting on a frame with great success, I can say that I truly enjoy the first 3 stages of making a quilt. But there is one stage left that I abhor. Binding. I don’t mind cutting out my binding strips and I even enjoy sewing the strips onto the quilt edge. It is the handwork that inevitably follows that I dread. Don’t get me wrong, I love handwork. However, if I am going to take the time to do it, I want it to be embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch or the like. Not binding.

About a year ago, I had a customer come in to bind a quilt and she concurred that she also hated the handwork side of binding. She wanted to try sewing the binding on the top , as normal, but then fold it over and try to stitch in the ditch on the front in order to secure the back. I know the quilting purist out there is cringing right now, but that’s brilliant! I had five quilts at home that were finished up to the binding and they were never on the top of my to-do list.

I went home and immediately got back to those forgotten quilts. I cut out my binding: 2 1/2″ strips and sewed them in line. I sewed it on the top of my quilt just as I normally would. I never pin my binding and I always start in the middle of one side, leaving a tail to attach to the other end of the binding. Here is a quick tutorial on mitering your corners.

Using a walking foot: stitch 1/4" from the edge. Fold the fabric to create a diagonal mark 45 degrees from the corner
Stitch to this diagonal line, which is exactly 1/4" from the next side
Fold fabric back diagonally as you just had it
Fold fabric back the other direction. Now stitch down the new side. Begin your stitching at the edge of the fabric. Repeat this process for all four sides.

After I got my binding sewn on top, I simply pressed it over to the other side.

I first press it down on the front and then I flip it over and press again

I replaced my closed-toe sole on my walking foot with my stitch-in-the-ditch sole and increased my stitch length to 3.5. Once again, I did not pin. Not a fan of pinning.

Stitch-in-the-ditch all the way around the binding seam

This all worked wonderfully until I turned my quilt over and saw that my stitches slipped off the back binding in a few spaces. There must be a better way. On my next quilt I tried fusible thread in my bobbin. This was better, but not yet foolproof. Then it came to me, Wash Away Wonder Tape! MD’s best friend! It’s perfect for this. It’s exactly 1/4″ wide so it fits perfectly in your 1/4″ seam allowance. Let’s try this again.

Place the tape in the seam allowance
Fold your binding just slightly over the 1/4" stitch line. This ensures that you will be stitching in the right place. The tape helps keep your miters placed correctly.
It keeps it perfectly placed and ready to sew without shifting
Stitch-in-the-ditch all the way around the top binding. I switch my needle to stop in the down position and use my free-hand system to pivot in the corners.
All done!


When I completed this round, I turned my quilt over and it was done perfectly! No missed stitches off the binding this time. I know you all may be sick of hearing about Wash Away Wonder Tape, but I think we’ve established a long-term relationship with this product. If you are like me and have a stack of sad unfinished quilts starring at you every time you sew, give this technique a try.

11 Responses to “Quick and Easy Quilt Binding Tutorial”

  1. sarah

    thx for sharing! what a great tip to get those quilts bound, I am going to pick up some of that tape!

  2. SCS

    Thank you for sharing. I tried this and really liked the results. Another skill for the tool kit!

  3. Michael Card

    Great post!

    Thank you.

    As a guy sewer I’ve come to realize that Wash Away Wonder Tape (WAWT) ranks up there with duct tape as one of the best inventions ever!!

    Other cool uses for WAWT besides making sewing projects a breeze:

    1. Place some into a first aid kit and use it the next time you need to hold a piece of gauze over a fresh wound (i.e., scrapped up knee, etc…) by placing strips next to the wound and pressing the gauze onto the strips. (The strips dissolve in the shower!)
    2. Sticking things to your face for Halloween. Like a mustache. (It washes off easy too!)
    3. Make your own post-it notes using recycled pieces of paper.
    4. Place a couple of little stripes to the bottom of an Omnigrid to cut down on the slippage as you wield a rotary cutter.

  4. Deanna

    What about stitching the binding to the back first? Instead of the front? Then I imagine when you stitch around the top it wouldn’t matter so much if the stitches slipped off the back?? I haven’t tried this, but am looking for an easy way to finish up a baby quilt. 🙂

  5. michelle

    I guess if you don’t mind the top stitching on the front side of your quilt it would work really well.

  6. Denise

    Deanna, That is perfectly fine. In fact, if you use a decorative stitch to sew down that binding, it will be beautiful.

  7. Staci

    I’ve tried machine binding a few times and been so unhappy with the results. I tried your method today for the first time. It didn’t turn out perfectly by any means, but it will do! I know the next time I do it the result will be better, and I’m looking forward to a second attempt soon. My hands are starting to trouble me greatly and all those hours of hand stitching binding has become very difficult. Thank you so much for sharing this method! My hands thank you, too!

  8. Jeri

    This is genius! I hate binding so much. I am going to try this next time. Thanks for the tip.

  9. I. Guenther

    I don’t have the wash away tape, but I used your technique and it’s great!

  10. Linda

    Do you cut your binding 2 1/2 ” or 2 1/4 “?

  11. Rebekah

    Hi Linda,
    Our go-to binding size is 2 1/2″. It is the perfect size to press and turn. Thanks so much for asking!

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