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Piecing and Binding a Quilt

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Remember the quilts I made for my girl/boy shared toddler room, here?
Some of you emailed with questions about putting those quilts together. 
So I thought I’d share a bit more detail about how I put the quilts together.
With no hand-sewing. 
(I know many people hand stitch parts of the binding, and find it relaxing.  And hand quilting and stitching actually adds love and charm to the quilt.  But I don’t enjoy it in this stage of my life, so I try to avoid it. Ha!)
But here are those little boy/girl quilts again.  
Happily bound around the edges.
But I’m going to be a bit more specific about how I put these together, in case you’ve never pieced a quilt together.
The easiest shape to start a quilt with, is to use squares (or one whole piece of fabric)….but these quilts will work as an example.
Cut out as many shapes/blocks as you need to create the right sized quilt for your project.  Keep in mind that you’ll need to make it bigger than you think, because the quilt will shrink in size after all of those seam allowances.  
Lay out the pattern that works for you visually.
Then start sewing each row together, side to side, until all the rows are completed. (I would pick up one row at a time, sew it together, lay it back down on the floor, grab a new row, and so on.  This helped keep everything in order…..without mixing it all up.)
Then sew each row together, completing the top of the quilt.
With these little tumbler pieces, the edges were uneven, so I had to trim them, making the quilt top an even rectangle.
Then I placed a plain piece of material down on the floor, that was slightly bigger than my top piece.  Then I placed a thin piece of batting (GA is hot!) on top of that.  Then the block piece on the very top.  I smoothed out each piece very flat as I layered, making sure there with no puckers.  Then I place pins all over, pinning the 3 layers together. 
Here was the fun part.  Quilting the 3 layers together with this Bernina machine.  It has a BSR attachment (Bernina Stitch Regulator) that quilts free-handed.  And even with no prior experience… was pretty simple to use.  And my word, so fun.  Just imagine driving a car, turning whichever way you want, at whatever moment you want to.  You don’t have to turn the fabric, you just guide it up/down/left/right/diagonal, and the little needle just glides right over it, stitching in whatever pattern or design you want it to. 
And with this stippling look, there are no mistakes.  Just bubbly twirls and ins and outs.  Loved the ease of it.
All quilted.
Oh, and I trimmed the edges right off, keeping the edges nice and even/straight.
Onto the binding.  This part may seem intimidating……but it’s really not so bad.
I used the Go! Cutter to cut lots of 2 1/2 inch wide strips really quickly, but you could cut them by hand, no problem.
Next, you’ll want one long strip that will fit around the entire quilt, with a little extra length, just in case.  So start piecing your shorter pieces together by placing two ends together.  Place your first piece face up and your second piece face down, making a 90 degree angle with the two ends.
 Then make a diagonal seam, like shown below.  Then trim off the excess.
Once you open it up, you should have one continuous strip.  If you sew the diagonal the wrong way, it will mess it up, so be sure you’re sewing it correctly.  (Sewing it together on a diagonal rather than just a straight line, eliminates a lot of bulk.  Once you start folding the binding, then folding more and then sewing, you don’t want to sew over many layers of one straight seam.  The diagonal spreads out the seam.)
Keep piecing your little strips together, end to end, until you have one long strip…..long enough to go around the entire quilt, plus 8 or so extra inches.
Now, fold your strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together……and iron flat.

 Next, place your quilt face down.  Starting in the middle of one side of the quilt, start pinning the raw edges of the binding even with the raw edges of the quilt.  Leave a few inches free at one end (shown on the left below), that we’ll join together with the other end later. 
Once you reach the corner, place a pin to about an inch from the end to keep the binding in place……
Then, flip the binding up, making a 45 degree angle with the binding.  Keep the right side edge of the quilt even with the right side edge of the binding.  See how it’s one continuous line on the right?
Keeping that 45 degree angle in place, flip the binding down, keeping the top edge of the binding even with the top edge of the quilt.  Now it’s a square.  Pin it in place.
Then continue pinning your raw edges along the raw edge of the quilt.
Continue pinning all the way around the quilt the same way.  Leave a few inch tail at the other end too and we’ll deal with it later.
Begin sewing around your quilt very slowly, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  (Start at one of the loose ends, with the free tail of binding.)  I think the trick here is sewing slowly, and keeping those raw edges even.

Once you reach a corner, move your little flap over, exposing the bottom lay of the binding, but don’t mess up your diagonal fold here.
Sew until you are 1/4 inch from the edge.  Don’t sew any further……but backstitch a few times.  (If you need to mark it with a pin or chalk so that you don’t pass a 1/4 inch, go ahead and do so.)
Here’s how it will look, with the seam 1/4 inch from the edge.
Then adjust your quilt so that you can sew down the next edge.  Put your needle back down, but place it 1/4 inch from the top.  Then continue down this edge until you reach the next corner.  Repeat.
Once you have sewn all the way around, you will have these two tail ends of binding.
Open up the binding a bit and pin each end of binding in place, right up to the edge of the quilt.
Then pin the two ends together, making it one continuous piece of binding.
Then, right where those pins were, make a seam along the opened binding, then trim off the extra material.
Fold back in half, pin the binding along the edge of the quilt, then sew in place.
Okay……halfway done with the binding.
Now, fold the binding over to the front of your quilt.  Pin all of the edges in place, nice and snug.  
As for the corners, they should fold over from the back very nicely……and if you look at the back, it makes a fold for you automatically.  As for the front, you have to help it along.  You can either tuck the corner into itself like this…….(takes a bit of coaxing)……..
Or you can fold over one edge…….
Then fold down the other…….creating a nice diagonal fold.  Whatever you like best.
Then pin it in place.
Now you’re going to sew along the top of the quilt…….right along the inner edge of the binding.  Just think s-l-o-w and you’ll be fine.
And just for a side-by-side comparison…….here is the one corner vs. the other.  
Depends on what you like.
Oh, and one more thing…… know that little BSR attachment for free-hand stitching that I showed you above?  Well, in one little corner, I played around with cursive.  It’s not perfect……but I just wanted to see how easy it would be to write something with that technique.  Kinda fun.

 And that’s it.   
Quilting and binding do take a bit of time and patience……but I would say that the end result is very satisfying.  And useful.  (Keeps those little monkeys warm at night.)

So, give it a try.  
Start a little quilting group with friends and try it out together.  You may surprise yourself and enjoy it.


  1. Louise says:

    Oh thank goodness!!! I've just read through several binding tutorials that left me nearly in tears!! So confusing! Yours, however, is so easy to understand and I actually think I CAN do this! Thank you xxxxx

  2. Robin (rsislandcrafts) says:

    I love tumbler block quilts and the colors you chose are so fun and bright!

  3. Marla says:

    I put binding on my first quilt today!! Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

  4. Allison @ Allie Browns Layouts says:

    So I LOOOOOVE the "<3 Mommy" at the end of the blanket!! LOVE IT!

  5. LDS Mom says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank You! This helped a ton!

  6. ReFabulous says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Years ago, I pieced a few quilts, but stopped at the binding. I just couldn't wrap my poor brain around it! I have since given the unfinished quilts away, but now I look forward to trying again — and with confidence! :)

  7. Tina says:

    Thanks so much for the easy-to-understand directions. I have made many quilts over the years but always shied away from binding. After reading this I am looking forward to my next quilt.

  8. Lydia Moon says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I want to start machine quilting, but didn't know how to begin. I'm going to see if my sewing machine has a foot like yours. And I'm very exciting to try out the binding technique! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  9. Shy says:

    Thanks for the tut on binding 101. I really would like to make a quilt, but have never attempted, I think I just might brave it now!

  10. GaMtnScrap says:

    I've been visiting your blog for a while but never posted a comment before. I just wanted to say thanks for this wonderful tutorial! You are always very detailed, show just the right pictures that are very clear, and your instructions are always easy to understand. I've been wanting to make a quilt for our bed, but was intimidated about the binding. I've never been able to understand it in books or on other sites, but your tutorial makes me think I CAN do it!

    BTW, I'm in Georgia too! Glad to see another Georgia gal!

    Keep up the great work, I'm always excited to see a new post here!

  11. Jim and Katie says:

    I always wondered about doing a binding on a machine. Thanks so much for the great tips. I'm excited to try it!

  12. jodi says:

    Oh Ashley, you're such a good mommy. The quilts are very cute.

  13. ificould says:


  14. cyfilet1aiguille says:

    Beautiful ! I love it …
    Bravo from France

  15. Issa says:

    oh my goodness! this is just blindingly cute and colorful! I love your pattern too. :) Wish I can start making my own quilt. thanks for the tutorial!

  16. Matthew and Shanna says:

    Thank you so much! What perfect timing. I am making my first quilt right now and was hoping you would elaborate on how to do the binding because that is where I have been stuck not knowing what to do. Now I can finish my quilt!

  17. The Noalls says:

    I really do admire your talent for explaining things clearly, Ashley. I wish I could have seen this a few years ago, on the only quilt I've ever ventured to make… :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    You are amazing. Just last week I used binding for the first time. By the time I was done, I knew I was going to HAVE to go online and see if I could find a tutorial or at least some tips on doing it better. Today I finally get some time and come online to do this and LOOK what your newest post is!!!! How did you know?!?! lol Thanks very much for the spectacular tutorials, I really appreciate them!!!

  19. Ashley Renee says:

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial! With the I spy swap happening, I was wondering how I would learn to do all the steps to making a quilt!

  20. Kristen says:

    Quilting is not one of my favorite things to do haha, I don't have much patience. I quilted a zig-zag pillowcase for my fiancee and it just about drove me insane. But I LOVE the look of the tumbler quilts! It makes me really want to try them (and wishing I had a Go! Cutter), and wishing I had a sewing machine, and one that has a free hand needle like that. I'd like to be able to make quilts, though I know I'd never be able to compare to his grandmother – she made me a quilt and machine stitched patterns, like palm trees, and tulips, and one of the pieced squares reminded her of Pacman, so she wrote "chomp" with the sewing machine!

  21. Maggie says:

    Such a great tutorial!!! You've got me so tempted to make something for my kids. Tempted… but not convinced yet.

  22. Melanie says:

    oh, to have a stitch regulator!! You are a lucky gal!

  23. Kebeni says:

    fabulous tutorial thanks so much for sharing. I am just starting out and finding that my bottom side is gathering when doing the freeform stitching on the machine. What do you think is the best way to avoid this? I have used basting spray and pins

  24. rachel says:

    those are two of the most beautiful quilts i've ever seen!! just love the colors and the swirly pattern. thanks so much for the fantastic tutorial!

  25. Tamra says:

    Thanks so much! I have a quilt I finished weeks ago except for the binding. and I hate doing corners–can never get them to look good. But now I know they're going to be awesome!!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I have just finished piecing all the inner workings of my t-shirt quilt and the next step is the binding. The last time I did this I was in high school, this will be so great!

  27. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I really want to start quilting (I love to sew) but it sometimes seems a bit overwhelming to me. I really appreciate easy step by step instructions that make quilting look much easier! :) Thanks again!!

  28. Kinsey says:

    i really appreciate you showing me that. i'm in the process of making my 3rd quilt, and i have yet to figure out the best way to bind. that's the hardest part if you ask me. so thanks!

  29. Brenda says:

    I really appreciate the well documented and photographed steps for the 45degree corners. I had been playing with it myself and couldn't quite get it right. Super!

    Have you done any of these super sweet quilts with the pointed-scallop edges left in place? I was wondering if you had done that and or even rounded the tops and then completed as a scalloped edge.
    Is there any special tricks to completing a quilt that way??
    Your colour choices are so bright and cheerful…I guarantee you, anyone not feeling well, would be glad to have that much wonderful colour to brighten their day as well as kids.

    Thanks so much.
    Brenda in Oshawa Ontario

  30. AKutarna says:

    these quilts are to die for cute! wow you are so talented, thanks for the tutorial!

  31. Nicole says:

    Man oh man, quilting is intimidating! I wish I had a nice sewing machine that would make the quilting part as easy as you describe it! :)

  32. Melinda says:

    I took a sewing class last fall and began a quilted wall hanging for my daughter's room. But by the last class I still hadn't put the binding on so this tut is just what I need to finish it before she outgrows the theme and before I take my next class this fall! Thanks so much…I appreciate all of your shared creativity.

  33. Starry says:

    I've looked all over for that attatchment to do free motion but can't find one. Does it have another name in the UK do you know? I'd love to have a go at it.

  34. Kimberly says:

    Hey, that doesn't look so hard after all. I've always been completely intimidated by the thoughts of binding, but you make it look fairly easy. Thanks!

  35. Mandy says:

    I have GOT to try stippling – and that "heart mommy" – so cute!!

  36. Snapshotsofhappiness says:

    This was an amazingly helpful post! I have been trying to convince myself to make a quilt for my daughter's room that she will be moving into in the Fall. This really pushed me over the edge and I am ready to go out and buy the material! Now if only I had a machine like yours! :)

    Oh and I convinced my husband to let me buy the silhouette! YEA! Thanks for the posts on that!! :) I'm ordering it tonight!! WOO HOO so excited!

  37. Ellen - SkoMomma says:

    Thank you! You've just given me the courage to give this a try. So exciting.

  38. Cindy's Crafty Creations says:

    Thank you so much for the awesome tutorial, and I love love love the pattern you used :)

  39. Cheryl says:

    THANK YOU! You're timing is excellent – I just had the crazy idea to whip up a quilt (my first one) for my daughter's 1st birthday, but was going to "wing" it and was a little uncertain on doing the binding. Now I'm all set!!

  40. Meghann Gehring Turnquist says:

    Awesome awesome awesome!!
    I'm trying to get into quilting and it seems so easy, yet so difficult with the way books and websites explain things … you make it seem so do-able.

  41. Laree says:

    I'm almost done piecing two twin quilts (had to stop for a month until the my Joann's opened again so I could buy more thread!). I've been planning on trying something similar to bind them – glad to know it will work!

  42. Nike@TheDirtyHalfDozen says:

    I'm a loyal follower, but rarely comment. But, I had to say thank you for another awesome tutorial. I was telling a non-crafty friend about your blog and encouraging her to take a look. The thing I love best about your tuts is how simple, straight-forward and well photographed each step is. It takes the intimidation factor right out of the equation. It leaves novices like me thinking, "I can soooo do this!"

    So thanks!

  43. Tiffany says:

    You do the best tutorials! I have made one other quilt & attempted my binding this way, but it was a little confusing. Your tutorials are so easy & clear to follow. Thank you so much!!!

  44. Christi says:

    I can only imagine how that Go! Cutter would help me get over my fear of cutting binding. Can it cut on the bias you think?

    I love your little quilts, the colors are great and happy.

  45. Helby says:

    Thanks for the reminder! I feel that I always forget how to bind everytime I do a little quilting.

  46. Cyn says:

    Next time you make a quilt you should look into using Basting Spray instead of all those pins. You can lift and replace your fabric as you go.I love this stuff. And wrote about it here:

    BTW, my blog is up and running. :)

  47. Mama Bear says:

    Great tutorial! I will have to try this method of binding, hand binding takes so long. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Cecily says:

    Thanks for the amazing binding tut! I was taught how to bind in the most difficult way, and I've avoided it ever since. Maybe now I can jump back in and enjoy it again! Thanks!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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