One way to finish a quilt…Part 1

There are loads of ways to finish a quilt but this is my usual method of choice. Hope you find the tutorial useful (it's an extended version of the one I posted previously this time with photos!).


Trimming and Binding

When all of the quilting is complete I square up the quilt. I know some people like to block their quilts, I trim. It's just a matter for personal preference. I don't want to wet my quilts (often I'll have used processes that can't be wetted such as drawing) so trimming is the answer. I've found that usually, with the type of quilting that I do, even though it's very densely worked and often layered with embroidery like this one, that the overall surface is fairly flat.

I lay the quilt out on a cutting mat on the table, or if it's a big piece, on the floor, and trim the edges using a rotary cutter with rulers. I'm aiming to trim off the least I can. I place the biggest square ruler I've got into the corner and then use a long ruler butted against that one to do the sides.

Once trimmed there are quilting lines (and in this case embroidery) that have been sliced through so ends are unfinished. You need to get the binding on asap so they don't unravel.

While I've got the rotary cutter out I'll slice up some binding fabric. I like the visual frame that a very narrow binding adds. A dark or bright binding is great for setting a quilt off against a white gallery wall. For this quilt I've chosen a digitally printed patterned fabric. Its design has nothing to do with the quilt, but the colours are perfect. I really like the how the pattern is fragmented when you only see a tiny strip of it, it adds just enough interest without being too dominant.

I cut the binding strips at 1 1/4" wide on the straight of grain. There is no need to cut on the bias for a square quilt (only for quilts with curved edges). I use a single layer of binding and choose a fine fabric such as a cotton poplin because I want a refined finish without bulk. The next stage is to join the binding strips to make one long continuous piece that's going to be long enough to bind the entire perimeter of the quilt.

Pop the quilt under the needle with the binding strip right sides together with raw edges aligned. I use the width of the presser foot on my machine to guide the seam allowance. It's a scant 1/4" which gives a lovely elegant finish. As you can see, if you turn back the first part of the binding strip before you start to sew you'll hide those raw edges on the short end.

Sew along and stop a scant 1/4" from the corner. Raise the needle out of the work and take the quilt out from under the foot. You don't need to cut the threads.

Fold the binding strip up.

And then back down. The long edge should now be aligned with the next side of the quilt and you will have turned a nice neat mitre. It's vital that the fold of the binding is aligned with the edge of the quilt as shown in the photo below. If it's not, you'll not have allowed enough fabric to turn the corner and it'll be rounded off. Not good.

Pop the work back under the foot and starting from the edge sew down along the side of the quilt to the next corner and repeat.

When you get to a join in the binding just open the seam allowances and sew right over.

When you get back to where you began, overlap a short distance, say about an 1" and then trim off any remaining binding. I stash the left overs into a box of 1 1/4" strips so I have loads ready cut I can delve into for another project.

Here's how the corner will look from the right side once the binding is turned over. 

Hope that first instalment was useful. Join me tomorrow for how to add the sleeve before finishing up with neatening all the binding off on the reverse.



  1. Thanks for your expertise!!

  2. This is really useful Laura. Thank you!

  3. Thanks Laura, I've never used this method because I thought it would be too difficult for me, but thanks to you I will give it a go. Really nice, clear instructions.

  4. This is so clear! Thank you very much.


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