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how to easily hand sew a quilt binding

12 May 2010 31,197 views 42 Comments

For the basics of getting started and working out how to sew the strips on, Heather Bailey has a fantastic primer. She really nails it. What I’ve found though is that there aren’t many resources for how to hand sew and finish the binding. Most of the tutorials I’ve found simply say, “tack down the loose edge.” I wanted specifics! And I wanted them on a site that wasn’t all 90′s web design style with flashing clip art and calico prints (not to mention the animated cats.) So I made my own with photos and hopefully this helps somebody else out.

binding tutorial

I’ve always been taught to double my thread for handsewing. I’m not sure where that came from, but I can’t stop now. My guess is my mum taught me and she’s the expert so I continue to do it. I work with an arms length of thread doubled at a time. Very manageable. Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. Pull it through from the backside of the binding where it will be hidden and trim the end off.

binding tutorial-1

I use binder clips to help hold the binding folded over. I generally keep them about 2 inches from the spot I’m sewing down. Faster than pins and way less pokey.

Put your needle through the backing layer just below the machine stitching line where you sewed the binding to the front side. I generally take a 3/8s of an inch bite.

binding tutorial-2

Directly above where that stitch came out, fold back the binding slightly and take another 3/8′s inch running stitch. I like to do this just under the fold slightly to the underside of the binding.

binding tutorial-3

This way, when you pull the thread tight, the stitches will simply disappear. Just like when you mattress stitch a seam in knitting.

binding tutorial-4

Continue in this manner (quilt top, binding, quilt top, binding) always keeping the entrances and exits directly in line with each other.

binding tutorial-5

(apologies for my crappy MS Paint illustration.)

binding stitching lines

To miter the corners, tack down the binding on the side you’re working on well into the corner finishing on a stitch into the backing.

binding tutorial-6

binding tutorial-7

Stitch your way back to just past the machine stitching line, right up close to the now tacked down binding edge.

binding tutorial-8

Flatten the binding out wide, then fold back the remainder and it will make a nice crisp diagonal.

binding tutorial-9

Turn your work and keep sewing it down as before.

binding tutorial-10

Some folks like to sew down the miter too, but I’ve found it’s not really that necessary since you’ve tucked it down so neatly already.

binding tutorial-11

That’s it! Ain’t it pretty?

42 Comments »

  • Bertha said:

    This is great! When I make quilts for myself, I tend to machine finish the bindings due to my extreme laziness. But when I’m gifting a quilt, I prefer to hand-finish it since it looks so much nicer. I never learned how to properly blind stitch so I usually just do a teeny whip stitch which is OK, but this looks so much better. I’ll definitely try this on my next quilt! Thanks Caro!

  • Shelly said:

    This is great! I always found it odd that posts / tutorials entitled “How to attach a hand-sewn binding” ALWAYS have the final step listed as “hand-sew the binding”. Whaaaa?
    Thanks so much for the great how-to! My quilts will instantly become 100% more fabulous!

  • Danielle said:

    Perfect! I will need this soon. You know, when I get my act together and actually finish a quilt. Though I AM disappointed in the lack of animated cats.

  • sarah b. said:

    This is so timely as I am doing this RIGHT now! :) I will have this beside me when I get to my first corner tonight! Thanks!

  • nova said:

    Very helpful, Caro! I am like Bertha, with the machine stitching, but I think I will likely handstitch my next binding. Also, what, not even one cat?

  • sam said:

    now I reallyreallyreally want to make a quilt- that’s one of my favorite stitches to do in sewing. I love it. I like that it disappears. Your quilt is gorgeous!

  • k said:

    This is great Caro, nicely detailed. I always double my thread in hand stitching too, my mom must have taught me that too! The binder clips is a great tip that I think I will try next time.

  • Carol said:

    Thanks! I always feel the need to tack down that mitered corner but always double thread too. I have 2 quilts waiting for this last step – been so lazy with the machine-sewing lately!

  • k said:

    okay, i already commented earlier today, but i just wanted to say this really helped. i started working on a binding this evening and while i have been using heather’s great tutorial for a while now, your additional tips are giving me my best hand-stitched binding yet. hope i don’t sound all gushy, just impressed how much this helped me improve.

  • jennifer said:

    Ooh, pretty! Thank you for this!

  • Jill said:

    This is great! Thanks so much for posting in such great detail :)

  • Quick and dirty reversible banner tutorial | funessa.wordpress.com said:

    [...] the triangles as you’re sewing them up. (I blatantly stole this tip from Caro’s awesome hand-sewn quilt binding tutorial… go check it [...]

  • Lisle said:

    This is my absolute favorite method for binding a quilt. Only thing I’d add is that instead of binder clips, I like to use those clippy barrettes that you can buy at the dollar store. They used to be a dozen for $1, now I think they’re fewer. But they work really well, and store easily, and if you buy cutesy and sparkly ones (I did), they can do double duty when you have a daughter (I do). I like that they’re not bulky or pointy, so I can clip up a whole side of the quilt and then fold it up and take it in the car when I’m not driving…

  • Vanessa said:

    ah! so that is how you do the corners-
    thanks so much for this tutorial Caro.

  • Kim said:

    I’ve always either machine-sewn the binding (not lazy – sewing three twin-sized quilts in two weeks means you don’t have time to hand-sew the binding) or whip-stitched it. This looks so much nicer. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  • Susan C. said:

    I used this tutorial today to help me hand sew the binding on my very first (doll-sized) quilt. I haven’t hand-sewn anything for years, but your directions and photos were so clear I had no problems. Thank you for posting this!

  • Confidence Quilt – Complete! | Almost Crafty said:

    [...] Step Five: On Monday, I machine sewed the binding on the right side (using the tutorial at Oh! Fransson) and then hand sewed the binding down on the back side (using the tutorial from Splityarn). [...]

  • molly said:

    Thank you for this. And for leaving the animated cats with the calico on other, lesser, sites!

  • Stephanie said:

    Great tutorial! I use binder clips on my bindings too.

  • Mary said:

    Thanks so much – this is fantastic!

  • Chrissy said:

    Thank you so much for the detailed photos and instructions regarding those darn corners! Why all of the tutorials I’ve seen up til now simply gloss over the corners, I’ll never know. But I thank you, again, for such a helpful tutorial!

  • Natalie said:

    This a great tutorial. My first quilt is in progress. Now I know what to anticipate and how to do it!

    Thanks.

  • meredith said:

    I love heather bailey. i have used her binding method numerous times. such a time and frustration saver!!

  • Nicole said:

    Thank-you – beautiful invisible stitching… Isn’t it so important to get the basics right!?… and lovely to get a tutorial.

  • Kelli said:

    Thanks so much for this! I envy your sharp corners…I haven’t made many quilts, and this part of the binding process still eludes me. My corners are always squishier, for lack of a better term! Hopefully in time I will get a better grasp on creating sharp corners on my binding. Thanks again, and your work is gorgeous!

  • claire gale said:

    thanks so much for that great tutorial, it always makes me happy to confim to myself that i’m doing things right. what’s the trick with not getting your thread in a tangle when it’s doubled. my mum always told me to use double thread for everything but it always seems to tangle. any tips gratefully received :)

  • Baby quilt numero uno! « Misadventures in Crafts said:

    [...] and it was bad. I followed Heather Bailey’s tutorial for the first part, and I followed a great tutorial on Splityarn for the hand sewing portion. When I started putting on the binding, I didn’t leave myself [...]

  • Katy said:

    Hi :) I am making my first quilt ever, and as I don’t own a sewing machine it’s all hand sewn. This tutorial is so easy and thorough! I am so appreciative!

  • ana said:

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. I was able to finish my (first ever)mini quilt thanks to you!

  • Jessica said:

    Super helpful! The pictures were great, including the “crappy MS paint illustration” :) THANKS!

  • Kelly said:

    Thank you for this tutorial. I needed the large photos and clear instructions. I usually machine stitch my binding, as a beginning quilter. However, I found this tutorial and hand-stitched my binding on my quilted table runner. I hope you don’t mind, but I mentioned this tutorial with a link in my blog post for anyone else needing these instructions. Thanks Again!!!

  • Mickey said:

    I’d really like to THANK YOU profusely for your wonderful directions here. So lovely of you to take the time to post this for all to read.
    May goodness follow you everywhere!

    This is my first quilt and I am ready to hand sew the binding on the backing.

    Also, I’m with Claire….my doubled thread always tangles on me…any tips so this won’t happen, would sure be appreciated.

  • Amy said:

    Thanks for the lesson! Really clear directions and pictures for a beginner like me. Last night I was trying to finish up a Figure 8 scarf (directions on Anna Maria Horner’s blog) and at the end she says to finish it up with a blind stitch. As a newbie, I have HEARD of a blind stitch but didn’t know how. So, you saved the day! Here in Denver it snowed 3″ last night and I have a beautiful, warm finished scarf to wear out in the cold today…and now I know how to blind stitch. I also have my first quilt in the works so I am sure I will be back again for a refresher when it’s time for the binding. Thank you!

  • {nursery progress} the baby quilt said:

    [...] pattern was pretty weak on instructions for doing the binding, but thankfully this tutorial and this tutorial saved [...]

  • pam said:

    Just used this super-helpful tutorial to tack down my first binding the old-fashioned way. It looks one million times better than the short-cut machine-stitched ones I’d been doing. Totally worth the time it took. Thanks, Caro!

  • Gina said:

    Thank you for the helpful photos. After sewing the binding to the quilt, do you iron it over the edge before starting the hand sewing?

    Thanks, Gina

  • Marcia said:

    Thank you so much for this illustration. I have had the same experience with videos of how to bind a quilt. I tried three seperate times to hand sew the binding on my quilt back tonight but was unhappy with the results so I took out the stitches and resigned to do more research and start anew tomorrow. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. The guy at my local quilting/ sewing store had explained this method to me but I couldn’t get it just right and all the videos I watched were either not thorough or were just a whip stitch. Again, thank you!

  • Jennifer said:

    Genius! Most patterns just say to hand finish your binding. It was really nice to have a step by step of how to really finish it by hand.

    Thanks!!!

  • Toot Sweet said:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have not been happy with my past binding experience with some projects. After my last project I decided to try and find a good tutorial online and yours is perfect. I am going to try it out this weekend on a little mug rug I made.

  • Joanne said:

    Thanks so much, this is perfect & just what I was looking for

  • Christine said:

    Thanks for this. I am hand sewing my binding right NOW and I’m glad that I found your site. It’s extremely helpful and easy to understand. This is my first time hand sewing the binding and it actually looks great, which shocks me. Yippee!

  • Vi said:

    Thank-you so much for the great directions. The pictures are just what I wanted/needed. Love using the clips…I have so many of those and didn’t think to use them for the quilt until I saw this.
    Thanks again!!

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