In a Bind

This week, I postponed my Hopscotch activity to make a baby quilt for one of my friends.  She said she wanted a simple design with blue and green.  Here’s a little peek of how it turned out! And yes, that is yummy minky on the back. I hope she likes it! 

The quilt pattern is called Spare Change and it’s a modern twist on a traditional coin quilt.  Now available in my shop

Now, when it comes to binding quilts, my favorite method involves stitching it in place by hand. It takes a little more time, but I feel like it always looks flawless! Today, I found myself with limited time to get a binding done, so I decided to top-stitch the binding in place. I thought I would share a few tips since it is a handy thing to know how to do! 

To get started, you are going to sew your binding strips together end-to-end. (You can see more detailed instructions about this here.)  I ironed the strip in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and have pinned it onto the back of my quilt. Yes, the back! This will give us more control on how the front of the quilt looks. Notice that the raw edges of the binding line up with the raw edge of the quilt, and I have pinned the first few inches in place.


I start stitching the binding to my quilt 3/8″ in from the edge, skipping those first few inches that I’ve pinned. I sew to the end of that side and stop 3/8″ away from the end.


I remove the quilt from under the machine and fold the binding to form a ninety-degree angle.


Next, I fold it back down to run along the next side of the quilt.


Then, I resume stitching down from the top using the 3/8″ seam allowance.


After repeating these steps around the quilt perimeter, I stop when I am about a foot away from the beginning.


I trim the tails to overlap by exactly 2-3/4″.


The next part always takes me a minute or two of wrestling the quilt. I unfold the binding tails and place them right sides together at a bias (I usually have to bunch up the quilt a little to be able to do this). See how they overlap by about 1/8″? I use a ruler to draw a diagonal line as indicated and pin in place.


After I sew along the diagonal line, I trim away the excess.


Next, I fold the binding back in place. It’s an exact fit! Wahoo! I finish stitching the binding to the back.


I’ve turned the quilt over to the front. See the stitching from the other side? We want to cover that by folding the binding up and over.


You could pin the binding in place onto the front, but I find that it is easiest to just fold a little at a time as I stitch. That way, I can keep a close eye on the seam I’m covering.


As I approach the corner, I usually pause a minute to miter the corners and pin in place.


Well? How’d I do? It seems to look okay on the front…

And the back doesn’t look too shabby either!
Though it is a little faster, this is not my preferred method! Am I crazy or what?! 

Whatever your opinion, this is a really good thing to know how to do. Not only will it help if you have an encroaching deadline, but there are some projects where it works pretty well! Like  the pretend hot pads I made for Olive!


  1. Dresden

    March 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Just found your blog and I am so inspired. I LOVE all your quilts! I have some fabric I've been saving and I think I'll make a quilt like the one above with it! So glad I found your blog.

  2. Anonymous

    March 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I am a hand binding natzi too. I have tried and tried to make myself do it by machine and I can't! Did one wall hanging and it was awful, hand binding it is for me. So relaxing and I love the finished project. You have also inspired me to quilt my own quilts now. I have been straight line quilting them for a bit but watched your freehand tutorial and tried it. The learning curve is huge! I am having a hard time without a a stitch regulator, does your machine have one? I am having a hard getting the curves to be gentle and not choppy. Any suggestions?

  3. Patti

    March 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Vanessa, I love this tip! I've always done binding by hand as well but I'm anxious to try it this way! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Lella Boutique

    March 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I don't have a stitch regulator, so I have to try and go at a steady and consistent pace! I get so excited to swirl it around that sometimes I move it to rapidly and get huge stitches! It is seriously just practice practice practice! Even after that, my quilting is never perfect but the style is pretty forgiving, which is why it is my favorite!

    As far as choppiness goes, you have to have the quilt loose enough so you can move it freely. For me, this means the quilt is usually up on my sewing table ( not on the ground) so that gravity isn't pulling it. I hope that makes sense. I am usually taking many pauses to adjust and loosen the quilt in the immediate area.

    Let me know if you have other questions. Have you seen my youtube video?

  5. Lella Boutique

    March 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    You are so sweet! Thanks for making my day 🙂

  6. Shanea

    March 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Great tip. Easy to follow too. I hope it is ok if I pin this- if not email me and let me know. I rarely go back to the comments. Beautiful quilts 🙂

  7. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane

    March 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Another beauty–I love those Ruby fabrics. You amaze me at how fast you crank these quilts out! I ALWAYS machine bind–I hate doing it by hand. 🙂

  8. vintage grey

    March 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Sweet quilt! Thanks for sharing your binding method!! I enjoy doing it by hand, and have been scared to do it by machine. I guess I should give it a try! xo Heather

  9. natski

    March 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Gorgeous quilt and thanks for all the awesome tips 🙂

  10. patchworkdelights

    April 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for the tute re closing off the binding, I managed it once on my second last quilt but I got so annoyed struggling with it second time I just gave up, so will give it another shot using your photos, thanks! Oh and a gorgeous quilt! Fi

  11. LeAnne Ballard

    April 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for this! I always bind my quilts by hand. However, I am cranking out three quilts for gifts and may have to try binding this way to save some time. Do you have to use a walking foot? It looks like it makes the whole process be easier. I have one but I am having major problems with it.

  12. Laura Barnard

    May 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I love the fabrics used in this quilt – would you be willing to share what they are? Beautiful and useful tutorial. Thanks!

  13. Conni

    July 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I love this quilt, the fabric, the pattern you used, and the minky you backed it with. Would you share this pattern, please

  14. Anonymous

    July 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    looks like Moda Ruby

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