You’ve pieced your quilt and the quilting is done. Now it’s time to add the binding. Before you start chopping off the extra batting and backing it’s important to know the proper way to do it.
If you want your quilt to have nice square corners and straight edges you need the proper tools and a couple of tips.
To start, you will need your large cutting mat, rotary cutter and your longest (preferably 24″) ruler.
If your quilt has one or more borders you want to make sure you place a line on your ruler along the seam line between the outer border and inner border (or quilt center if your quilt only has one border). In the picture you can see the white line (labeled 1/4″) along the seam line between the red outer border and green inner border. My outer border was cut 2 1/2″ so theoretically my outer border should now measure 2 1/4″, which it does. Depending on the batting you choose and the density of your quilting the outer border may be smaller than the cut size minus the seam allowance (1/4″).
Before you begin to trim away the excess batting and batting check to make sure the line you have chosen as your guideline on your ruler is on the seam for the entire length of the ruler. Since the quilt has thickness and can have a bit of a mind of its own it may not be lying perfectly flat and straight. There are times I have to “encourage” my quilt layers to move slightly to the left or right to get the seam line aligned with the line on my ruler. This should not be a huge adjustment. If that seam was wonky before the quilting was done, it will still be wonky. However, if you were careful with your cutting, piecing and pressing your quilt should have been fairly square to begin with.
Once the quilt is straight under the ruler go ahead and trim off the extra batting and backing.
Slide the ruler down the quilt, aligning the same line on the ruler with the seam line and trim again, adjusting the quilt first if needed. Continue with this process until you have the entire side trimmed.
To trim the second side you will want to reference two lines on your ruler. First, align the same line on your ruler with the same seam line you used for the first side. In the picture you can see the 1/4″ line on the ruler is again aligned with the seam between the red outer border and green inner border. In addition, the 3 1/2″ line on the ruler (this is just an arbitrary number, I picked a line on the ruler that was fairly close to the short end of the ruler) is lined up with cut edge of the first side. You can see in the picture that my green corner stone does not come quite to the edge of the ruler. Since the difference is less than 1/8″ there is no need to worry about it. I trimmed the batting and backing along the edge of the ruler, keeping the ruler aligned as shown. This ensures that the two edges are square and straight. The small difference in the edge of the cornerstone will more than be covered with the binding.
Continue to trim the rest of this side as well as the third and fourth sides in the same manner. If there are some areas where the quilt top doesn’t quite reach the edge of you ruler when you have it properly aligned as described above go ahead and trim the batting and backing allowing a small portion of it to extend beyond the quilt top. I like to make sure the edge is perfectly straight with the seam line as long as the discrepancy is well under 1/4″. (This will be explained more fully in next week’s tutorial.)
Your quilt is now ready for binding! Next week I will share a tutorial on how I bind my quilts.
Happy Quilting, friends!