TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Try This Quilt Binding Technique: Eliminate Corner Bulk!

by Donna Hussain

An advantage of belonging to a quilt circle is that group members share their quilting skills. In the past year I have learned how to discharge the dye in fabric to uncover hidden colors and create new fabric patterns, how to embellish my quilts with machine thread play, and a new way to bind my quilts.

Of the three new skills, the binding technique is my favorite. Binding is what covers the raw edges of a quilt after the top has been decorated, bundled with batting and back fabric, and then quilted by hand or machine.  In the past I have used a mitered corner technique for my quilt bindings.   Unfortunately the bulk in the corners often gave my quilts a slightly rounded corner instead of a crisp right angle.  The new technique eliminates that problem and is much easier to sew. The binding works for all square or rectangular quilts regardless of their size.

I suggest that you make a small quilt to practice the binding technique that I describe below. Cut two 8½ x 11 inch rectangles from two different colored fabrics. Label one fabric as the quilt top, the other as the quilt back. Cut batting the same size.  Bundle the front fabric, batting, and back to make a quilt. Baste or quilt the three layers together.

Binding Directions

The binding fabric required for this exercise should be 12 inches square.

Step 1
Cut two 2 inch wide strips of fabric two inches shorter than the quilt length from the binding fabric.
Cut two additional 2 inch wide strips of fabric two inches shorter than the quilt width.
Cut four 2 ½ inch fabric squares.

Step 2
Fold each fabric square in half on the diagonal, wrong sides together.  Press the folds.  Open the pressed squares wrong side up. Draw a pencil line on each square parallel to the fold as illustrated.  The parallel line is a cutting line. It should be ¼” away from the fold.

Step 3
Cut along the pencil lines. Discard the cut-off fabric. Repress the folds. You now have corner triangles with folded hems for your binding.

Step 4
Place your quilt front-side up.  Put one of the binding triangles with hem-side up in each of the four quilt corners. Be sure the right angles of     the triangles align with the right angle edges of the quilt corners. Pin or baste the triangles in place.
Step 5    
Fold and press the binding strips lengthwise in half.  Press the folds. Center these strips along the top, bottom, and sides of the quilt front with the raw edges of the strips aligned along the edges of the quilt. While centered strips will partially cover the corner triangles they will be one inch short at each end. The strips must not overlap.  Pin or baste the strips in place.
Step 6  
Machine stitch the binding fabrics to the front of the quilt close to the edges of the quilt. Remove all pins and basting stitches.
Step 7     
Turn the binding to the back side of the quilt. Poke the binding in the corners to get crisp right angles. Pull the binding so that the binding seam is at the very edge of the quilt, not visible when looking at the quilt front. Pin the binding to the quilt back, and then stitch the folded edges to the back by hand.

Folded edge of the binding needs to be stitched (hemmed) to the quilt back by hand.

The binding measurements in this article are appropriate for both small and large quilts.   However, you can enlarge the binding strip widths and the size of the corner triangles if you choose. But be sure that the binding strips are centered and do not overlap in the corners. The finished look of the quilt will not change.  However, the width of the binding at the back of the quilt will increase.           

California quilter, Donna Hussain, has exhibited in major quilt shows around the country, authored books, and is a regular contributor to Fiber Focus. Click on her name to see all of her past articles.

The photo shows Donna with her husband, Pascha.



  1. This is both awesome and amazing. I can't believe I've never heard of it before. I can't wait to try it, and I have a quilt that is ready to be bound.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. The detailed instructions make it look easy. I'm excited about trying this new technique... it will surely remove some of the bulk from those corners.

  3. A very clear and elegant tutorial, but I think the result is called a "facing"instead of "binding". Bindings show on the front, but facings do not. But it certainly eliminates corner bulk. Thank you!

  4. Good directions thank you :-) Very neat idea too
    / \


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