How to Cut Binding: A Step-By-Step Guide
Learn to determine how much binding you need, what type is best for your quilt, and how to cut straight-grain binding strips. If your quilt has curved edges, cut the strips on the bias (see here for the how-to steps).
Determine Binding Length
Determine how much binding you will need to go around all edges of your quilt. Many patterns list the number of binding strips or the total length needed to complete a project.
If you need to determine the binding length yourself, lay the quilt flat and measure through the center of each border strip (do not measure along the outer edge of the quilt); add the lengths of each side together. Add approximately 20" to allow for diagonally seaming strips and finishing the ends of continuous binding (binding in one long strip with no breaks except where it begins and ends).
Determine Binding Type and Width
Before cutting your binding strips, you need to decide whether you want single-fold or double-fold (French-fold) binding. Also determine whether you want to cut the binding on the straight grain or bias grain. If you are working on a project that has curved or scalloped edges, you will need to cut your strips on the bias grain. For different looks, experiment with how you piece your binding strips-diagonal or straight seams.
Next page: Single- and Double-Fold Binding
Single-fold binding, as its name implies, is a single thickness of fabric. It requires less fabric than double-fold binding, but also provides less protection for a quilt's edges. Because of this, single-fold binding is generally used in quilts that will not be handled frequently, such as wall hangings, miniature quilts, and quilts with curved or scalloped edges where less bulk in the binding is desired.
Single-fold binding is cut four times the desired finished binding width plus 1⁄8" to allow for turn of cloth (the fabric take-up resulting from folding and wrapping binding around the quilt edge). The seam allowance used to attach the binding should be equal to the desired finished width of your binding. For example, for 1⁄4"-wide finished single-fold binding, cut 1-1⁄8"-wide binding strips and attach them using a 1⁄4" seam allowance. The binding strips for single-fold binding can be cut on the straight or bias grain.
Double-fold, or French-fold, binding is the most common binding type. It provides the most durable finish on a quilt's edges. It is cut wider than single-fold binding because it is pressed in half (doubled) before it is attached to the quilt top.
Double-fold binding is cut six times the desired finished binding width plus 1⁄4" to allow for turn of cloth (the fabric take-up resulting from folding and wrapping binding around the quilt edge). The seam allowance used to attach the binding should be equal to the desired finished width of your binding. For example, for a standard 3⁄8"-wide finished double-fold binding, cut 2-1⁄2"-wide binding strips and attach them using a 3⁄8" seam allowance. For 1⁄2"-wide finished double-fold binding, cut 3-1⁄4"-wide binding strips and attach them using a 1⁄2" seam allowance. For 1⁄4"-wide finished double-fold binding, cut 1-3⁄4"-wide binding strips and attach them using a 1⁄4" seam allowance. The binding strips for double-fold binding can be cut on the straight or bias grain.
Next page: Straight-Grain Binding
1. Cut crosswise strips the desired width, cutting enough strips to equal the total length needed. Use a fabric's crosswise straight grain rather than its lengthwise grain for more give and elasticity.
2. Position and pin the strips perpendicular to one another with the raw edges aligned and right sides together. Mark, then join the strips with diagonal seams to make one continuous binding strip.
3. Trim the excess fabric, leaving 1⁄4" seam allowances. To reduce bulk, press the seam allowances open. Trim the dog-ears.