Joining Binding and Diagonal Seams (A Tutorial)
One of my favorite parts of quilting is binding because it's the last part that is needed to finish off the quilt! I taught myself how to join the ends of my binding because I didn't like the way the folded or tuck binding looked. I also didn't realize there was a huge market for all sorts of binding tools, so my method uses nothing but a marking tool and the knowledge on how to make a diagonal seam.
How do you calculate how much binding you need?
Add the length and width of the quilt together, then multiply 2 and add 10. Take that number, divide by 40 (if using width of fabric (WOF)) and round UP. For example, my quilt is 72x72. So 72+72=144. Multiply by 2 and add 10, 144*2+10=298. Then divide by 40 so 298/40=7.45. And round up 7.45 => 8 strips of WOF needed. The size of the strips is highly dependent on the quilter, some use 2 1/4" width some use 2 1/2". Personally I have started using 2 1/4" strips, but I began using 2 1/2" and still write all my patterns to that size.
How to join binding:
- Using WOF of fabric, cut the number of strips needed
- My 8 strips are cut out
- This is how I set up to sew a diagonal seam. I have right sides together (RST) for the strips. The tails of the strips are always to my left, and I always have the tail that is closest to me on top.
- I chain piece my diagonals together, so I flip the tail of the strip closest to me to be the bottom of the next seam.
Here is a close up of the diagonal seam. I do not trim the selvages off, I just align the two strips perpendicular and sew on the diagonal where the two pieces cross. This is highlighted by the pink line.
- Once all the strips are sewn together, everything should be linked with the longer tails at the beginning and the end as shown
- Cut apart the chain piecing and trim the excess. Make sure to trim the tiny triangles on the sides as well.
- Now iron the seams OPEN. This will allow the seams to lay flatter and not have a lot of bulk when sewn
- Notice the front shows the diagonal seam, but it's harder for the eye to tell where the seam is located. You can also use diagonal seams for borders to extend fabric longer than WOF.
Now iron the strip in half, and do not trim any part of the ends of the binding. You do not need to trim at all using my method.
Once you have the binding made, sew the binding on the quilt. Leave a long tail for the beginning, miter each corner, and then stop 8-12 inches away from the start leaving a long tail. The distance you leave yourself is key, too far apart and it's easier to make a mistake, but too close it will be very difficult to make the diagonal seam.
Taking both ends, bring them together to meet in the middle of the gap. Firmly press the crease at the point where the ends should meet each other. I actually mark the inside of the folds on each side to help identify where the tails are meeting.
Now that you have the lines marked, take the end tail and open the binding. Align the beginning tail so the fold is on the marked line. The marked line on the beginning tail should be aligned with the centerfold. This is shown by the pink lines.
Once you have it aligned, open the beginning tail, pin, and sew on the diagonal shown in pink in the image below.
Check the seam by flipping it back. You should see the mark you made align with the intersection of the diagonal seam. If this matches, trim the excess, and press the seam open.
Now sew the last part of the binding onto the quilt!
No tools and you have a perfectly joined binding seam!
Let me know how this works for you! I find it less confusing than all the tools, so I hope it works for you too!