Quilt binding is merely a strip of fabric used to finish a quilt. It is attached after the quilt squares have been pieced, the batting added, the backing attached, and all quilting done. Binding quilts is necessary to cover the raw edges of the work and create a finished piece.
The first step in quilt binding is to choose the type of quilt binding you want. Quilters must consider the quilt layout, design, color and use. If the quilt has a busy design, it is best to choose the same fabric that was used for the outer border of the quilt design. This balances the busy design with some stability. If the quilt has curved edges, be sure to set the binding on the bias, since the angle of the fibers allows the binding to stretch and fit curves.
When it comes to color, most quilters prefer to use one of the accent or main colors within the quilt and use the leftover fabric for binding. If necessary, smaller bits of the leftover fabric can be pieced together to create a single strip for quilt binding. This method can also be used to piece together many different colors of left over fabrics. Quilts that will experience heavy wear should be bound with a double binding, which is simply two layers of binding fabric sewn on at the same time.
Quilt binding should be cut 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) wide for large quilts or 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) for small or wall-hanging quilts. Cut the binding along the selvage edge of the fabric for straight grain and at 45 degree angles to the selvage for bias. Sew strips together until they measure the sum total length of all four sides of the quilt. Then press 1/4 inches (.6 cm) along each edge of the binding and then press the strip in half along its length.
Square the quilt before attaching the binding with a large T-square. Mark and then trim excess fabric to create square corners. Be careful to cut this exactly square, ensuring the quilt lays flat and the binding corners miter properly. Some find it helpful to baste stitch 3/8 inches (1 cm) from the end of the quilt, making it easier to attach and align the binding.
Sewing the quilt binding is a simple procedure. Apply the binding to the quilt by sewing a continuous strip around the quilt. Keep the raw edges of the folded binding even with the edge of the quilt and sew through all layers on the quilt edge of the binding. Upon reaching the corners, simply tuck part of the strip under so it forms a miter and continue sewing. Go back and hand-sew the corners from the quilt edge to the outer edge, finishing mitered corner.
Some quilters avoid complex binding decisions by simply cutting the backing fabric larger than the finished quilt size. For single binding, cut the backing 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) larger than the finished quilt. Fold the raw edge at 1/4 inches (.6 cm) and press. For double binding, cut it 4 inches (10 cm) bigger, fold the extra fabric in half and then press. Wrap the backing around the quilt edges, and then top stitch through all four layers, stopping along corners to create the miter. Finalize the mitered edges with hand-sewing.