how to easily hand sew a quilt binding
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.
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.
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.
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.
This way, when you pull the thread tight, the stitches will simply disappear. Just like when you mattress stitch a seam in knitting.
Continue in this manner (quilt top, binding, quilt top, binding) always keeping the entrances and exits directly in line with each other.
(apologies for my crappy MS Paint illustration.)
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.
Stitch your way back to just past the machine stitching line, right up close to the now tacked down binding edge.
Flatten the binding out wide, then fold back the remainder and it will make a nice crisp diagonal.
Turn your work and keep sewing it down as before.
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.
That’s it! Ain’t it pretty?