Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quilt Binding Styles: Examples of Binding Widths and Colors

The binding is one of the most important parts of the quilt. After it's been carefully pieced together, layered on top of batting and backing, then quilted, you want strong, beautiful binding to frame it. Whether you want your binding to match and blend into your quilt top or contrast against it, the binding needs to be there! You can make it wide or thin, it depends on which look you prefer. Sometimes the style of your quilt will help you decide whether you want wide or thin binding. Personally, I tend to think modern quilts look better with thinner binding, while more traditional quilts look best with wider binding. Quilt binding can be an important part of the quilt top design.

You can download a straight grain quilt binding chart below. The chart shows how many strips of binding can be cut from different cuts of fabric.

Click to download: Straight Grain Quilt Binding Chart

What is straight grain binding? It is binding cut perpendicular to the fabric selvage. This is shown in the photo below. Straight grain binding can only be used on quilts with straight edges. If you are making a round quilt, or a quilt with scalloped edges, you will need to use bias binding. Bias binding is cut along the bias, at a 45 degree angle from the selvage.

The binding is cut at a 90 degree angle (perpendicular) from the selvage.

Below I have provided some examples of quilts with different colors and thicknesses of binding.

Example 1: Binding That Blends

In this photo, the quilt binding matches the border fabric of the quilt, and I used a pale gold thread to sew down the binding.

Just like in the previous photo, the quilt binding is made from the same fabric as the quilt border, with a contrasting thread used to sew the binding down. With a matching thread, matching binding fabric could create the effect that the quilt has no binding.

Example 2: Binding That Pops

The quilt in the photo above has dark blue binding and read thread to sew it onto the quilt. Both the blue and the red contrast against the quilt top border.

Example 3: Wide Binding

You can make your binding even wider than this, but for me this is wider than I normally make my quilt binding. Usually, I cut my binding strips 2" wide, or even 1 3/4" wide. The binding strips in this photo I had cut  2 3/4" wide.

Example 4: Thin Binding

In the photo above, I had experimented with cutting my binding only 1 1/2" wide. It was hard to get the binding to fold over enough, but I do like the look of thin binding. Though I did have more trouble folding over the thin binding than I did the wider binding, in my experience wide binding isn't necessarily any more durable.

Example 5: Scrappy Binding

The photo above is of my Scrap Quilt 2015-2016. You can view the quilt block tutorials here. I had saved all of my extra binding from several quilts and sewed it together to make scrappy binding to match the scrappy quilt top. Scrappy binding is one of my favorites!

Example 6: Striped Binding

I love using striped fabric for binding! The first photo shows a quilted table topper with blue striped binding. In the second photo is a lap quilt with a somewhat striped fabric for the binding. Striped binding frames a quilt nicely, contrasts well, but doesn't take away from the quilt top.

Example 7: Color Coordinating Binding

The binding in the photo above neither blends with the border or contrasts, it simply coordinates with the colors in the quilt top and border, without matching them exactly.

Before you choose what style of binding you want, ask yourself some questions about the design of your entire quilt.

  • Do you want the binding to contrast against the quilt top, blend in with it by matching the border, or simply color coordinate with the other fabrics in the quilt?
  • What style does your quilt have, if any? Is modern, traditional, scrappy, or something else?
Modern style baby quilt with a color coordinating binding.
  • What is your quilt being used for?
Table runners tend to lay better with thinner binding, while thick binding looks great on a nice and fluffy bed or throw quilt. Again, as long as the binding is properly attached, the width is usually only cosmetic. I have found that high loft, fluffy wool batting and polyester batting is easier to bind with wider binding.

Table runner with thin binding.
  • Do you want your quilt to be reversible? If so, keep in mind that the binding should coordinate with both sides.
This is hard to do if you are making a table runner for two different holidays, such as Thankgiving fabric on one side and Christmas fabric on the other. It's great to get two table runners in one! However, it is hard to coordinate a binding when drastically different fabrics are used on each side. To make it easier, pick a color to incorporate onto each side of the quilt.

For example: 

Side one of the quilt is for Christmas and the colors include red, green, and gold.

Side two is for Thanksgiving and the colors used are brown, orange, and gold.

Each side uses gold, so a gold binding should coordinate with each quilt top. It takes a bit of planning to make a reversible quilt, but it is great when both sides are used.

Thanks for reading, and happy quilt binding!

More Binding Posts:

1 comment:

  1. I usually cut my binding strips to 2" and then sew about a 1/4" seam. I had not thought much about wider binding until reading this post. Wider would change the measurement of the first seam holding the binding to the quilt (for somewhat math-challenged me) but I think the wide could look great on some quilts. Thanks for the post.
    --Nancy. (ndmessier @,


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