Tips for Mitered Quilt Binding

Like most quilters, I use a mitered edge on my quilt binding.  I’ve tried several methods for getting that angle corner correct.

Here’s a tutorial on a method that I tried a few days ago that worked out pretty well.

I cut my binding strips fairly wide–this one is 2-1/2″.  It’s a pieced binding using fabrics from the quilt top and back.   I turn and iron a 1/4 inch edge –I’ll use that when I hand sew the binding to the back.  As normal, I sew the binding strip to the front of the quilt using my walking foot.  (Experiment with the stitch length that works on your machine. You might have to lengthen the stitch length so that you are not pulling the binding too tight. )

When I am about 3 inches from the corner, I stop and back stitch about 4 stitches.  Then,  I slide the quilt out of my machine.  I fold the binding up to my right at a 45 degree angle, and finger press the 45 degree angle.

Folded strip that I will finger press.  I’m careful to fold it so that it meets the quilt edge exactly (more or less….).

Then, I unfold and carefully draw a line on that folded angle. I will use this line to stitch my 45 degree angle.  I use a ruler to make sure my line is straight.

Ruler laid on the fold. My red stiletto is pointing to where I will draw the line.
Line drawn. It’s a bit longer than I need, but that doesn’t matter.I used a pigma pen that I know will not bleed or stain the quilt. You can use any marking tool–including a pencil!

Then, I put the quilt back into the machine, and proceeded to stitch starting from where I left off.  when I get to my drawn line, I stop with my needle down ON the line, and pivot the quilt so that I can stitch precisely on the marked line to the corner tip of the quilt.  I cut my thread.

My needle is positioned to the far left of the walking foot because of the size of my binding.  I am stitching exactly on that drawn line–it’s a bit hard to see in the photo.  I will stitch to the very end of that drawn line and cut my thread.

Next, I remove the quilt from under the needle, fold the strip up and then back down, using that stitched line as my guide for the 45 degree angle. This is the standard folding technique we all use for mitering our bindings.

Binding folded and pinned.
I started sewing again from the very top of the binding.
I’ll continue sewing until I am close to the next corner, repeating the steps above.

This method seems to give me a cleaner corner than other methods that I’ve tried and I’ll keep working with it to see if I can get a ‘perfect’ corner someday.  Here’s the result–I think I could have gotten that tip a bit crisper–I must have made my fold a bit off from the edge of the quilt.  But, it’s good enough–this is not a show quilt.

The backing fabric is a 108″ wideback called Newspaper Clippings By Windham.  Here’s a link to the fabric.

Some Hand Binding Tips

After I sew the binding to the front, I turn it to the back to finish it.  I know that quilters either love this step (it’s meditative….) or they find it boring and slow.  Here are a few tips to help with the boring/slow part.

I do my hand binding in front of the TV and I’ve set up a simple workstation using a TV tray.

Here’s the workstation.  I keep a small rope bowl with a few batting scraps in it on my table.  It’s where I drop the loose threads.  The batting keeps them from littering the whole table. I keep my needles in a magnetic case that’s usually closed in between sessions.  No more hunting for the binding needles.

All of my needed tools are right here. These scissors stay here with my other binding tools.  I have a box of threads that I stash in the TV cabinet in this room so my other threads are handy too. If I need to clean up, I put everything into a plastic shoe box and put it in the TV cabinet. It takes me about 1 minute to set up or clean up.

I thread 5 or 6 needles at the same time and stick them in the arm of the sofa. The threads seem to get less tangled.  And, it does not hurt the sofa. I use Fons & Porter quilters binding needles (found them online). They are shorter and stronger than regular sewing needles. The needle tip is really sharp and that helps me sew faster.

I nearly always use Superior Threads 50 wt. SoFine for hand binding in a color that blends with the binding.  The combination of the 50 wt thread and these needles works well for me.  The binding needles are easy to thread, by the way.   When I sew, I never use a thimble and my fingers are fine.  The needle and thread glide pretty easily through the fabric and batting.

And those small clips shown in the photo below are great for securing the binding–no sticking myself with pins as I sew the binding down on the back.

That’s it for today!!  I hope this was useful.  Happy Quilting!

7 thoughts on “Tips for Mitered Quilt Binding”

  1. Anita Erskine

    Dang it! I just struggled through sewing the binding to a queen quilt last night! Next time I will certainly use your method! And today – I will do the meditative hand sewing! Thanks for your tips! Hope you will be in San Diego sometime soon!

  2. I have a question for you…why don’t you use a double-fold binding? I think that is what it is called…where you press your binding in half, sew the raw edge against the raw edge of your quilt, fold over to the other side and finish? I like having a double layer of fabric on the binding because that edge of the quilt gets the most wear. This is the first time I have ever seen a single layer of fabric used over the edge of the quilt. The quilter who taught me to do binding, taught me to do it the Fons and Porter way (she had a single page printed of the steps). I like finding other ways to do all things quilty!

    1. Good question. If I’m giving the quilt to a charity or if it’s for a child, I use double fold. Or if the fabric is very light or white, I use double fold. I am now thinking that double fold does lay a bit flatter so I will probably switch to that in the future.

      I’ve done single folds on quilts we use every day (and wash a lot) without a wear problem–however, some quilters report issues with single fold bindings.

      I think wear also depends on the quality of the fabric–some cottons are thinner weave than others so a double fold binding is probably advisable.

      By the way, I do not cut my binding on the bias–I use a straight selvedge to selvedge cut. And, I use a straight join to make the binding long enough, not a mitered join. I prefer the straight join because most of my quilts have straight lines in the piecing and an angled mitered join looks odd to my eye.

  3. These are great tips! I will try marking my miter to see if that helps me find that magic spot where to stop sewing. The organizational system also seems to be handy. Maybe if I follow it, I will become more organized! I do have needles poking out of my couch arm like that, but my family seems to not like that!

    1. LOL on the needles…..Fortunately my husband stays away from that particular couch arm.

      It takes some trial and error to find the best way to create mitered corners. I know that some days they all come out perfectly and some days I’ll nail 3 out of 4! I then pull out the seam ripper because I want my corners to be as square as possible.

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