The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

How to make your own binding September 23, 2009

Filed under: Tutorials — thebotheredowl @ 2:07 pm
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Okay, tutorial number two: making blanket binding. Again, it’s easier to do than to write about, so please bear with me as I am really new at this whole teaching of technical skills thing.

Pick and Mix

The first step is to choose your fabric. You want something that will make a coherent whole with your blanket or quilt’s colours and patterns. Contrast is good, clash is bad.

I’ve chosen to use some of the IKEA fabrics that Alex and I picked up on our trek last week.

Candy stripes and hippos

Candy stripes and hippos

Because they’re all from the same kid’s range (by Eva Lundgreen, apparently), the colours blend well together and they’re just so… cheery.

Decide on a width and a length of strip. I like mine wide but I tend to vary the length a little. Sometimes I will cut a strip that will be the length of one whole side of the blanket, sometimes I do lots of shorter strips to get a really stripy effect. It’s up to your taste, you might like your binding all in one colour and very thin. That’s the beauty of making your own!

However you choose to do your strips, you will need to make a template. I just used the first strip that I cut out and then laid it on the fabric and cut round it. You’ll soon have a nice little stack of strips ready to sew. Like so:

A pile of strips

A pile of strips

Next step is to iron everything in sight. You really should press the strips before you sew them, it’ll flatten out any creases and give you a chance to check everything is straight and smooth.


Once you have your stack-o-strips ready to go, you need to join them together into one long strip.

Place two strips right sides together, facing inwards. You can pin them if you want to, I generally don’t just because the strips aren’t that huge and I’m using a non-slippery fabric. If you’re working with something that tends to slide, use pins. It’ll save you many tears.

Backstitching the strips together

Backstitching the strips together.

The sprawling backside of backstitch.

The sprawling backside of backstitch.

The smooth neat side of the backstitch seam

The smooth neat side of the backstitch seam

Backstitch was the first stitch I ever learned how to do. My mum taught me when I was 6 or 7. You can kind of get an idea of how the needle should go through the fabric from the pictures.

Keep joining the strips together until you have a lovely long chain like this:

A nice chain of strips, all ready to be ironed

A nice chain of strips, all ready to be ironed

Preparing the strips for binding

The next step is to get out your trusty iron and irioning board. Trust me on this, the ironing is key for good binding.

First you need to press all the little seams you’ve just made. You can press them open:

Pressing the seam open

Pressing the seam open

or press them flat and to one side:

Pressing seams flat and to the side

Pressing seams flat and to the side

It doesn’t really matter for this project which method you choose. But if you press them to the side, make sure that you press them all to the same side. E.g all to the right or all to the left. Be consistent, it looks tidier that way.

Turn, turn, turn

Now you’re ready to turn the edges under, ready to sew the binding to the blanket. Again, you want to use your iron for this, it holds the folded under bits in place like magic. You want to fold at least 2.5 cms of fabric in, so that you get a nice margin at each edge. When you stitch the binding in place on the blanket/quilt/whatever, you will be sewing these folds in place, effectively hemming the binding.   Finally, fold the whole thing in half, length ways and iron a nice crease down the middle. And you’re ready to fit your binding to your blanket/quilt.

Folding and ironing the raw edges makes for a neat clean finish

See, nice smooth edges.

See, nice smooth edges.

Turning the Corner

You’ve made your binding, now you just need to fit it to your blanket.  I’ll show you how I did mine.

First lay out and pin your blanket. You want to make sure that sucker is not going to move while you’re fiddling with it because the last thing you want is for this to happen:

Look at those wrinkles. Sigh

Look at those wrinkles. Sigh. Mother pucker.

This was my first attempt at making a blankie for a very long time and I forgot the cardinal rule of pin, pin and pin some more.

Once you’ve got your main fabric pieces laid out and pinned as you want them, you need to sandwich the raw edges of the blanket between the layers of your binding. Like this:

Mmmm fabric sandwich.

Mmmm fabric sandwich.

The crease that you ironed down the centre of your binding strip should sit along the raw edge of your blanket, dividing your binding strip precisely in half, half to the front of the blanket, half to the back.

Next you’re going to turn and mitre the corners. This is so much easier than it sounds, but I only just figured out how to do it the other night. It makes a really nice sharp looking corner.

Make a right angle fold in the fabric

Make a right angle fold in the fabricThen pinch and fold the other side

Smooth it down and you've made a mitred corner.

Smooth it down and you've made a mitred corner.Nice, crisp corner, pinned and ready for stitching.

Work your way around three sides of your blanket. The fourth side is where you will join together the two ends of your binding strip to finish off the final corner. Make sure each end overlaps the edge of the blanket by a good few centimetres. You want to leave enough room to be able to put in your mitre, even after you’ve joined the ends together.

Pin the ends, right sides together, then back stitch just as you did when you first started making your binding strips. Fold the edges back under, then mitre the corner as shown in the pictures above. Pin in place.

Pinned and ready to be sewn up

Pinned and ready to be sewn up

Tah dah! Now all you have to do is choose what kind of thread and stitch you want to do and you’re ready to finish your blanket.

And when it is all sewn up it should look like this:

All done

All done


2 Responses to “How to make your own binding”

  1. Florcita Says:

    EXCELLENT! I was looking for something like this to enlighten me in the path of “neat edges” LOL I have no clue about sewing but sometimes one needs to start somewhere, right?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad to be of help! Like you say, every one has to start somewhere, and it’s nice to be able to share stuff as we figure it out for ourselves :-> Good luck with the sewing!

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