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Self-Binding Using Backing Fabric - With Mitered Corners

By: Penny Halgren

You can use the backing of the quilt and roll it over the edges to make a binding that attaches to the quilt top.

Or, you can use the quilt top and roll it over the edges to make a binding that attaches to the back.

The time for that decision is before you cut your backing or your last border, because you want to be sure to have enough fabric to roll around the edges and include a seam allowance to tuck in your raw edge.

The advantage of self-binding is that you already have the fabric attached to your quilt. You can see whether you will have enough fabric, and you don’t need to go through the process of attaching the binding.

The disadvantage is that it will be a single layer of fabric, covering the edge on a straight grain or cross grain of the fabric, instead of a bias edge. The advantage of a bias piece covering the edge of the quilt is that the thread of the fabric are in a little “x” pattern which allows for some stretch and give, and it means that several threads are taking the wear. When the straight or cross grain is on the edge, there is a single thread, maybe a few threads that take the entire brunt of the wear. The result is that with time, the fabric will look like someone took a knife and cut through the binding.

Onward and forward to the step-by-step process.

Decide how much of the binding fabric you want to show on the other side of the quilt. Let’s assume that you would like ½” of the backing fabric to show on the front of the quilt as binding.

Mark your quilt top with a “seam line.” This will be where the binding will be attached to the front of the quilt. Typically this will be ¼” away from the edge of the quilt top.

mark your quilt with a seam line

You can adjust the width of the binding that shows on the front by  changing the amount of batting you trim. One more reason to plan ahead. If you want ½” of the backing fabric to show on the front of the quilt as binding, you need to have an extra ¼” of batting beyond the edge of the quilt top.

Trim the excess pieces of batting from the outside of the quilt, so you have nice, straight edges.

Be sure to keep the backing out of the way from this cut. You can either fold back the backing on itself so that just the quilt top and batting are showing. Or you could place your rotary cutting mat between the batting and the backing, so the backing is completely out of the way.

measure the batting in your quilt   trim the batting in your quilt

If your binding is going to show ½” on the front of the quilt, cut the edges of the quilt top and batting ½” from the “seam line” you marked on the quilt top.

trim the backing on your quilt

Cut the backing.

With your quilt facing up, measure a distance that is twice the amount you want to show plus ¼.” For example, if you want ½” of binding to show, cut the backing 1¼” away from your “seam line.”

fold corner of backing on quilt  press the corner of the backing on quilt

Fold down the tip of the corner to meet the marked seam line. Press.

Clip the tip of each corner at the pressed line. Turn over a ¼” seam allowance on each corner and press.

Continue turning and pressing a ¼” seam allowance on the straight sides. If you are working on a large quilt, it may be easier to complete one side at a time. (Fold the seam allowance and press and then fold the backing over to the front.) Or you may decide to press the ¼” seam allowance on all sides, and then continue with the next step..


Beginning at one corner, fold one of the straight edges over the edge of the quilt and match the edge of the binding with your marked “seam line.” This should result in a diagonal piece of the binding being in the corner of your quilt top. Pin or iron in place.

Continue to fold the binding over onto the quilt top along the straight side, and pin or iron in place. When you reach the end of the side of the quilt, the binding will have a diagonal finish at the corner.

Now it’s time to begin the second side. Fold the binding onto the quilt top, matching the diagonal pieces in the corner. These finished ends should match, covering the corner, and the edge of the binding on the two sides should meet the marked “seam line.” Pin or iron in place.

Continue around the quilt until you reach your beginning corner. The ends of that corner should finish the same as the other corners.

Once all of the binding is pressed or pinned in place, sew it in place. A hidden hand stitch, using some matching thread will give this a nice finish.

Remember to secure the corners by stitching them closed. Because of the corners, it may be better to hand stitch. However, you could easily machine stitch the straight sides of the binding and hand stitch the corners.

Happy Quilting!

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©2005, Penny Halgren
Penny is an author of 7 books written for beginner quilters, and is a self-taught quilter of more than 24 years who seeks to interest new quilters and provide them with the resources necessary to create beautiful quilts.

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