Introduction: Finishing a Quilt With Backwards Binding

About: Texas State Democratic Executive Committeewoman, SD31

The traditional way to finish a quilt uses bias binding sewn to the front, folded around to the back, and whipstitched by hand all around the back. This is a real pain in the rear for quilters like me who are used to doing everything on the machine. I don't hand sew unless my very life hangs in the balance.

But you can bind a quilt by machine if you flip things around and do it all backwards. This tutorial will show you how to use traditional bias binding and attach it to your quilt by machine. You need a quilt top, batting, backing, and bias binding for this tutorial.

Step 1: Make Your Sandwich

Layer your quilt together and baste. How you do this is up to you. There are eleventy billion ways to baste a quilt and I'm not about to tell you what way is better. It's really a matter of personal preference. I use basting spray because it's fast and easy and there is nothing to remove from the quilt when I'm done. I dig that. 

Step 2: The Dreaded "quilt As Desired" and Then Trim

Do your quilting and then trim the backing and batting evenly with the edges of your quilt. (I know the red thread is totally fug but you can see it really well in pictures so there you go.)

Step 3: Make/Acquire/Conjure Bias Strip

You need enough bias strip to go all the way around your quilt plus about ten inches for corners and overlap. Fold your bias strip in half and press the whole length. The bias tape you buy in little packets isn't going to work for this unless you unfold it and press it because what you want is a double layer of bias tape with both raw edges matched up on one sides. Take the strip, fold it in half, and press. It's really not complicated so don't think too hard about it, just do it. Fold, press. That's it.

Step 4: Attach Tape to the Back of Your Quilt

This is super-important. Pin the bias tape to the back of your quilt with the raw edges of the bias tape even with the edges of the quilt. Read that a few more times and think hard about what it says. All the raw edges involved will be stacked up together when you get done. Quilt top on the bottom, batting, quilt back, then the two raw edges of your bias tape, in that order.

When you get to the corner, you do the same fold and turn method that you use for the traditional sew-in-on-the-front method. This gives you a nice mitered corner.

Step 5: Sew Along the Back 1/4" in From the Edge

Maybe a scant quarter inch is better. But sew all around, stopping 1/4" from the corner and starting again 1/4" in when you turn. You don't want to sew over the ear of fabric on the corner because then you can't flip and turn it.

Step 6: Fold Binding Around to the Front

Fold the binding around to the front of your quilt and pin. Tuck the ear into itself to make the miter. Now you've got the nice folded edge on the front and we'll sew it down to finish the quilt.

Step 7: Sew the Tape Down

Last step is to sew down the tape to the front. You can use a straight stitch or a zig-zag but this is a good time to use those fancy decorative stitches on your machine that no one ever seems to use. Turning the corner can be tricky (obviously because this corner looks horrible but I made this sample in fifteen minutes so cut a girl some slack, Jack.) I like to tack down the miter too, but that is optional.

Ta-da!  Now you've got a *very* securely bound quilt and you didn't have to take a single stitch by hand.

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