Foolproof miters on any width binding

The double-fold bias binding with a mitered corner is probably the most familiar edge finish for contemporary quilts. In the set of mini-quilts I made for my forthcoming article on bindings in Quilting Arts magazine (August 2008), I created an outside edge that includes corners, a point, and inside and outside curved edges which covers most of the challenges you will face.

I hope you’ll check the forthcoming issue (due on stands and in mailboxes near you at the very end of July and early August) for more details. Because there is only so much space available, they didn’t have room to include instructions for “any-width” bias binding, only 1/4″ bias binding. I actually prefer this technique to the one described in the article, so you have my permission to make ONE copy of this blogpost, for you personal use ONLY (since I make a living, albeit modest, teaching and selling quilts, thank you in advance for respecting my copyright!).

As soon as the article is out, I’ll insert a picture of the mini-quilt here. In the meantime, the close-up above of a good mitered binding will have to do! Thanks for understanding!Cut your binding strips SIX times the width of the desired binding,Double-fold Wrap plus ¼” (or up to ½” extra if you’d like a little more wiggle room). For a binding that finishes at 3/8” that is [(6 x 3/8) + 3/8 = 18/8 + 2/8 = 20/8 or] 2 ½ inch wide strips. Sew your binding strips together with a ¼” seam allowance until you have the length of your quilt perimeter plus several inches. The seams are on the straight grain, so when folded they run at an angle to the side of the quilt (making them less noticeable). Fold the strip in half lengthwise, finger-pressing or lightly pressing with an iron.

Think Boomerang: first the binding goes away, then it comes back:

1. Sew binding strip to the quilt edge, beginning at least four to six inches from a corner, and leaving a tail of about four to six inches (on large quilts, 12 inches or more is better), figure 1. In North and South America, Europe, and Africa, since we read from left to right and top to bottom, I like to start the binding on the lower left side, where the join is relatively unnoticed as the eye travels in its accustomed path across a quilt. Loosely run the binding strip around the quilt to make sure a seam doesn’t land on a corner (too much bulk); if it does, adjust your starting point slighly.

Double-fold Step 1

2. When stitching is about 2 inches from corner, fold the binding strip back on itself exactly on the edge of the quilt and finger press. You may wish to mark with a pin or chalk to see the line better. Diagrams 2

Double-fold Step 2

3. Fold the binding strip UP so that the marked line is now exactly even with the top edge of the quilt; finger press a crease at the 45 degree line. Mark with chalk on the inside of the binding if you need to improve visibility. Diagram 3

Double-fold Step 3

4. Continue to sew the seam until you reach the 45 degree chalk line. Backstitch 3 or four stitches. Diagram 4.

Double-fold Step 4

5. Pull the quilt out from under presser foot and (this is the boomerang part) : first fold the binding away on the marked lines, then back down so that the binding turns the corner and goes down the next side. Diagram 5.

Double-fold Step 5

6. Stitch from the very outside edge of the quilt down the next side. Diagram 6.

Double-fold Step 6

7. Repeat at the other corners.

8. Stop stitching about 4-6 inches from where you began.

After you have used this method enough, you will be able to fingerpress and eyeball the corner turns instead of marking.

3 Responses to “Foolproof miters on any width binding”

  1. Maggie Harris Says:

    Thank you so much for this Sarah Jane…. I am new to quilting rules, and have had real problems with the bindings. I will try this. My local store of Bookers do not always stock QA, and unfortunately when I did subscribe I did not receive all the copies . So I have given up!!
    I do love it as a magazine. Just wish they were more reliable posting overseas.
    Best Wishes

  2. Barbara Says:

    I liked your info for a mitered binding. I would also like the mitered binding that is done from the back at an angle on the front on the corners.
    Thanks. Barbara

  3. Michelle Says:

    Thanks for this tutorial Sarah, it Is very helpful. As a fairly newbie quilter, I appreciate your time and willingness to teach those of us who are learning.


    In Seattle, USA