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Beginner Quilting Series Part Seven: Squaring and Binding

Updated: Mar 22

Can you believe we’ve made it to the end of this series?? Seven weeks! We are almost done completing our quilt and I’m so excited to see your creations! The last stop in our Quilting Series to finally finish our quilt is to square the edges and bind them! I'll be sharing a beginner-friendly binding technique with mitered corners!

Squaring Supplies:

Binding Supplies:

  • 5 (2.25” strips of fabric)

Quick Jump Links:

Let’s Square Our Quilt!

Squaring our quilt is an important process. We do this to remove the excess batting and backing from our quilt. Typically, we want our quilts to fold neatly and have all the corners match up. If it’s not cut square, then it’s going to fold a little weird! For the quilt that we’ve made, it’s fairly easy to achieve a square cut.

For me, this is most easily achieved on the floor instead of trying to finagle a big quilt on my sewing table. I have a large cutting mat that I use on the floor often. This isn’t completely necessary to have. Feel free to use your regular-sized cutting mat under your quilt as you cut. Just make sure you move it to the next spot before cutting! You can also work on your cutting station/sewing table if you’re more comfortable there.

-First, take your large square ruler and line it up on one corner of your quilt. Cut the corner out. This is a great starting point for this process.

-Next, take your long ruler and place it on the edge nearest the corner you just cut. Align about 4" - 5” of the ruler with the raw edge you just cut. By keeping some of the ruler lined up with our raw edge, we know that we will continue to cut our quilt straight. Cut along the ruler.

-Move your ruler down the edge of your quilt, continuing this process until you get near the next corner. Then, we will switch back to the square ruler.

-Just as we did with the last corner, we are going to cut the next one! Next, we will switch back to our long ruler and continue this process around the entire quilt. If you find that you need to cut off a little of your quilt top to achieve a square quilt it's okay!

How to Calculate Binding Fabric Requirements

It’s time for my least favorite part in quilting…math. I’m going to share an easy formula for calculating binding fabric requirements if you ever need it.

Don’t worry! I’m also sharing a cheat that I use MORE often.

If you don’t feel like doing the math, they have wonderful FREE calculators available on the internet! This is one that I use regularly. Simply type in the size of your quilt and the size of the binding strips you want to cut- it calculates it for you. You’re welcome!

To calculate binding fabric requirements:

Add the length and width of your quilt and multiply it by 2.

Our quilt is 45" X 54".

In Example: 45 + 54 = 99

99 x 2 = 198

Take this number and add 12. This number accounts for any extra fabric you need for joining strips, mitered corners, and joining ends.

In Example: 198 + 12 = 210”

This tells us that we need 210” of fabric (in strips) to make our quilt. First, we will use this number to figure out how many strips of fabric we need.

Take the number and divide it by the width of your binding fabric (typically 44”). Round this number up because you can’t cut a fraction of a strip. Well, you shouldn’t lol.

In Example: 210 / 44 = 4.77 (5 strips)

My preferred binding width is 2.25”.

If we multiply the number of strips that we need by the width of the strips we need to cut, we will get the total number of inches of fabric that we need! Round this up to the nearest whole number.

In Example: 5 x 2.25 = 11.25” (12")

Now we know we need about 12” of fabric and we can cut this into 5 strips for our binding. If you refer back to the basic fabric yardage measurements, you will see that we need about 1/2 yard of fabric for our binding. This will also mean that we will have extra fabric left over.

How to Make Binding

For the quilt we are making together, you will need 5 (2.25") strips of fabric.

For deomonstration purposes, I am using this pink patterned fabric so you can see which side is up!

-First, we need to sew our strips together. Lay the end of strip one (horizontally) right sides up on your sewing machine.

-Next, lay one end of strip 2 right sides together (vertically on top) on the end of strip one. You probably still have the selvages on the edges of the strips. That’s ok! We will cut these off later. Just lay your strips so that the selvages run past where your strips need to come together.

-We want to mark (or eyeball) a diagonal line that runs from the top left corner to the bottom right corner on top of the second strip that we just laid down.

-Sew along this line to join the first two strips together. Don’t cut your threads yet.

-In the same way as the last two strips; take the end of strip two and lay it face up on your sewing machine. Grab strip 3 and lay it right sides together. Mark a diagonal line and sew along it. Continue this to join all 5 strips.

-It’s safe to cut your threads now! Then, cut the threads in between each strip. If you have a thread cutter on your machine, it’ll make quick work of this! If not, a little tool like this makes cutting chain-pieced items much easier.

-Next, we will cut off the ends. Take your ruler and align the 1/4” line with your sewn line. Cut along your ruler. Repeat this for all of the adjoined strips. You can also eyeball this step with scissors. Just make sure you're leaving about 1/4" seam allowance.

-Now, we will iron our binding in half! Lay the binding, right sides facing down, and fold it in half, long ways. Working down your strip of binding, fold it in half, iron it, and continue down. When you get to your seams, iron those open and continue to fold/iron. To keep things organized, you can roll the ironed binding up or use a spare ruler to roll it onto.

-When you get to the end, we need to make a diagonal fold. Before ironing, fold the bottom edge of your binding up and to the right to create a 45-degree angle and iron. Check out the video for this step!

-Using scissors, cut the end of the triangle you just created off, leaving about 1/4” seam allowance from the fold. Next, finish folding your binding in half and iron.

We’re finished making our binding!

How to Attach Binding to Your Quilt

This process is MUCH easier shown than told. Check out this week's video! We will be starting on the back of your quilt. You can begin anywhere that you’d like, except near the corners! I typically go for the middle on the side of the quilt.

We will be using a 1/4” seam allowance to attach the binding to the back of your quilt first. Start with the folded end of your binding. Align the raw edge of your binding on top of the raw edge of your quilt. Open up the beginning of the pocket we created and begin sewing about 6” down. Pull your needle up, place the top fold of your binding back down, then continue sewing. We have now sewn a little pocket in our binding! You are now sewing through your quilt top and both sides of your folded binding. Continue sewing down the side of your quilt.

Creating a mitered corner: When you get close to the corner, stop 1/4” from the edge and pull your needle up. You do not need to cut threads. Pull your quilt out. Fold your binding up to the right and lay it at a 90-degree angle. You will notice a fold that aligns with the corner of your quilt. The raw bottom edge of your quilt should also be in line with the raw edge of your binding. Next, fold it straight over to the left. It’s now aligned with the bottom edge of your quilt. Your corner is correct if the fold you created is aligned with the edge of your quilt as seen in the photo below.

Next, rotate your quilt. We will begin sewing 1/4" from the edge of our quilt. Take a few stitches forward and backward here, then continue sewing the binding down on the edge of your quilt. Repeat this process with all four corners.

When you get close to where you started, we want to pause and cut the tail off of our binding. The idea here is to cut the binding so that it perfectly fits inside the angled pocket we created at the beginning. Eyeball about 1" past your pocket and cut diagonally here. Tuck the tail of your binding into your pocket so that all raw edges meet. Continue sewing until you reach where you started. The binding is now attached to our quilt...only one more step!

Finishing Our Binding

The last step in quilting! Sewing our binding onto the front of our quilt. This process encases the raw edge of our quilt secretly inside, creating a beautiful finish!

If you like to plan ahead- you can use binding clips to fold over the binding to the front of the quilt. By doing this first, it allows you to spend less time sewing. I usually fold as I go, but just know you have this option as well.

Start anywhere along the sides of your quilt. We will start with our quilt top facing up now. Begin by folding over your binding to the front of the quilt.

We want the binding not to stretch as far as it can to the front, but just cover the sewn line we created on the backside.

To begin sewing: Pull your bobbin thread up as described in Parts Five and Six of our Quilting Series. Doing this eliminates any ugly thread nests on the back of the quilt. Now we can start sewing!

We have two goals here: the first is to sew as closely to the folded edge of our binding as possible while also making sure we are still sewing through to the binding on the back without sewing into our quilt. Begin sewing down your quilt, following along the folded edge of your binding.

-When you get about 5" or so away from the corner, we will pause and create the miter. Fold down the binding to the quilt's bottom edge. Clip in place if you need to.

-If you continue aligning the binding over our seam down the corner, the binding will naturally create a fold going down the left side of the quilt. Press this down and bring it up to meet the binding so that it creates a diagonal fold. Clip this in place if you need to. Go ahead and set the binding on the bottom edge where it needs to be and clip.

-Continue sewing down to the corner. Stop just past the fold in your miter corner with your needle down. Lift your presser foot pivot your quilt 90 degrees and begin sewing down the next side of your quilt. Repeat these steps all around your quilt.

-When you get back to where you started sewing, carefully try to sew directly into the sewn line. Take a few stitches in place here and cut your threads.

We're Done!

Now is the best part of all...admiring your work! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has followed along in this series with me. I hope it encourages you, helps you, or whatever you need it to so you can continue quilting and creating. I'm here if you need any help! Leave your questions below. Tag me on Instagram @southernsewingcompany. I would love to see your finished work!

Until Next Time...



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