How I Hand Stitch Binding

My favorite method for adding binding to a quilt is to machine stitch it to the front and hand stitch it to the back. I love that last little bit of time to connect with the quilt. If it’s a gift, I send a lot of positive thoughts and love while I’m stitching; if the quilt is for a customer, I think about where the quilt will end up living and the person who finally gives the quilt its permanent home.

Dorky? Perhaps.

But I love quilting, and the binding is the last time I will work on a quilt before it’s time to move on to the next one.

Anyway………all this to say that while stitching binding the other day I snapped some quick pics with my phone. I thought it might be useful to someone to see the stitches I use to attach the binding to the back of my quilts. Be advised – these are indoor phone pics on a very grey and cloudy day. But we’ll make them work!

After sewing the binding to the front, I fold it over and clip it in place on the back. I knot the thread in place under the binding and bring the needle through the binding fabric from the back to the front.

Now, insert the needle in the top layer only of the backing fabric, as shown below:

Binding Stitch

Now, slide the needle under the top layer only about a quarter of an inch and bring the needle to the top of the fabric:

Hand Stitching the Binding

I keep my middle finger under the quilt so I can feel if the needle comes through to the front of the quilt. (It will happen once in a while – just take the stitch out and start again.)

At the point where the needle comes out of the fabric, insert it into the binding fabric. Keep the needle in the fabric and move it forward about a quarter of an inch, then bring the needle to the outside of the binding right where the fold is.

The picture below shows exactly how the needle goes under the backing fabric, into the binding fabric, and then out of the binding fabric. Go ahead and pull the needle all the way through and gently pull the thread tight.

Hand Stitching the BindingNow you are ready to repeat these steps for the next stitch. So, put your needle into the top layer only of the backing fabric right under where it came out of the binding and repeat the stitch.

What you end up with are hidden stitches and a smooth, professional looking finish on your binding:

Hand Stitched Binding

Once you get used to the movement, you’ll find that you can move along quite quickly and before you know it, the binding is all finished on your quilt!

If you struggle with hand stitching the binding on your quilts, I hope this mini lesson helps. 🙂


About Beth

I’m a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get “licking the spoon” mixed up with “licking the fabric”!!

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9 Responses to How I Hand Stitch Binding

  1. Kate says:

    I do the binding in a very similar way. It’s such a relaxing way to finish off a quilt, sitting quietly and stitching away. Unless it needs to be wrapped within the next 30 minutes, then it can be a bit maddening.

  2. Jasmine says:

    I love using the ladder stitch as well on some quilts. I admit that I am impatient for the finish and machine bind more than I used to.

  3. Jen R says:

    I am the same as Carole. I do mine with the quilt on the bottom and the binding on top. I only started hand binding a few months ago and I don’t think I will ever go back to machine binding. It looks so much nicer (with my skills anyway) and it does give you a way to connect with the quilt. I just finished one this week and was amazed at how fast and accurate I have become after only a few quilts. Thanks for sharing the tips. The photos are excellent btw.

  4. I agree that hand binding is a great personal touch and lovely way to spend a last few moments with a quilt. I’m amazed at how quick I’ve become at my stitching – practice and repetition have greatly improved my consistency and speed.

  5. Tish says:

    I’m going to make a quilting confession…I always struggle with tie-ing off a current thread to start the next one. I’m always afraid my knot will not hold down the road. 🙁

    • Beth says:

      Sometimes it is a challenge to make the knot small enough to be buried, but big enough to not pop back out. I always start my new thread a few stitches back, so the binding is double stitched where the thread ends. I feel like that makes it more secure. I’ve never had an issue with the threads coming un-done on any of the quilts I use and wash frequently.

  6. Little Quiltsong says:

    Thank you for your tips. I too enjoy binding by hand – (though at first I didn’t – it was tedious and boring – I felt). But I love this last finishing touch, and now I keep thinking how the front/top of the quilt gets so much attention, why shouldn’t the backing enjoy its time in the limelight while I’m hand-stitching the binding down :)! You are right – this is the last part of the quilt before moving on to the next quilt project – it needs to be savored!

  7. Great pictures, they really show your method very well. I sew my binding the same.

  8. I sew mine the same way, but I hold the quilt with the binding on the top instead of the bottom. I can get the stitches ever so slightly to the underside of the binding that way, so they disappear.

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