Binding Your Quilt

Binding your almost finished quilt is a task we love or hate. Either way, it’s got to be done. There are different types of binding – mitered, bias, straight, double – how do we know which one to use and when to use it? Let’s find out.

The majority of your quilt binding should be double. That just means two layers of fabric. A small wall hanging can take a single binding (one layer), if you’re running low on fabric. But two is always better. Consider the three layers of quilt and one layer of binding. It’s kind of skimpy. The two layers – four after you turn it back – gives the quilt edges stability and strength.

On a bed-sized quilt, a double binding is a must. The edges will wear faster than the middle parts, so having those two layers of fabric on the edge gives your quilt a longer life.

I always cut my double binding 2 1/2″ wide. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, raw edges matching and press. This gives you 1/4″ for your seam and an inch to fold over to the back – comfortably. Anything narrower will need to be pulled tighter, and it’s more finicky to stitch down on the back of the quilt. We don’t like finicky when we’re hauling a queen size quilt around on our lap!

hex1 copy

This is a quilt I made and did not put a binding on it. It was a hexagon edge, and I zig-zagged it!

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I figure a video must be worth a few books. Here is a comprehensive tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company on a mitered binding. If you’ve never done a mitered binding, try it. It’s not as hard as we think it is.

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A bias binding is used on quilts which have curved edges. This allows the binding to go around those curves smoothly, without puckers. Again, this will be a double binding. This video explains and demonstrates the entire process very clearly. She even shows you how to create the curves! And a bonus in this video – no hand stitching!

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A straight binding is one I don’t often use anymore. But, we’re talking about binding, so we’ll touch on it. The mitered binding is so easy, there’s no need to resort to the straight one! I did straight binding for years because I was too intimidated by the thought of mitering. I’m not real brave. But once I crossed over to mitering, I never went back!

  • Cut (4) lengths of binding the length of one (if it’s square, of two sides if it’s not) side of the quilt plus an inch or two. Yes, double.
  • Match raw edges along the top of the quilt and sew. Repeat on the bottom.
  • Turn the finished edge of the binding to the back and pin.
  • Now do the same to the sides of the quilt.
  • Trim off the tails left on the top and bottom.
  • As you turn the binding to the back, fold in the tails so they don’t show, and pin. Hand stitch around the quilt.

Once the binding is complete, all you need to do is add a label to the back and your quilt is finished. We’ll talk about labels next time.


About Karen

Karen has been a seamstress since the age of 9, and a quilter for the past 25 years. She's enjoyed all sorts of quilt adventures including quilt making, hand quilting, quilt design, quilt magazine publication (Cotton Spice) and now she's the editor of The Quilt Pattern Magazine.  She wrote a book - Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy (I've since remarried) with Martingale and Company in 2004. Karen also enjoys knitting, writing and editing, and hunting treasure in thrift stores and estate sales. She has 14 grandchildren and one on the way. You can read her blog on writing and editing at  Or visit her Etsy shop where she sells her primitive stitchery designs


  1.' Muriel Dick says:

    Many years ago I began supposedly a dolls quilt of 3/4″ hexagon.
    Now it has become larger than a double bed and I love all the fussy cut flowers but I do not want to applique the edge, I would rather back the edge hexagons somehow and I will have to square the whole quilt also.
    What suggestions do you have. It is now time I finished it
    Thank you for help/suggestions. Muriel

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