Tips for Making / Planning a Scrappy Binding

After sharing about the scrappy binding I used on Signal Trace, I was asked by longtime reader and online friend Mary (Quilting is in My Blood) if I would consider writing up a blog post about how I plan out and make scrappy binding.

Signal Trace - Quilting Detail

Signal Trace – Detail Photo Showing Scrappy Binding

Not having taken photos of my process for Signal Trace, I kept that idea tucked away in my mind for the next time I had a more scrappy binding approach. So when I realized that I needed to add to the stripe binding for Irish Autumn, I took photos of my process.

Trim / Square Quilt

Trim / Square Quilt

Just like with any of my quilts, the first step in making binding is always trimming my quilt “square” after quilting. What that means to me is that I trim away the excess batting and backing, and I work to make the corners square (90-degrees) and the opposite sides approximately the same length. For a quilt like Irish Autumn (shown above), I can use the pieced elements to measure. In this case, I measured the outer sashing seam and trimmed ¾” away from that seam all the way around the quilt.

Lay Out Binding Strips, Starting in Corners

Lay Out Binding Strips, Starting in Corners

The first thing I do when laying out a scrappy binding is figure out what I want in each corner. My number one priority when planning out binding is to make sure that a seam does not fall across a corner – the extra bulk that adds complicates the miter and is just generally not fun to deal with. In the case of Irish Autumn, I knew I wanted to use as much from the fat quarter of the stripe print I had on hand as possible. I cut (6) 2¼” strips from the fat quarter and then joined 1½ strips together to use at each of the four corners of the quilt.

Finding Center of Binding Strip to Place on Corner

Finding Center of Binding Strip to Place on Corner

To make sure I centered the strip on the corner, I pressed the strip in half to make double fold binding, and then I folded the strip in half lengthwise so I could place the exact center of the strip on the corner.

Evaluate Gaps and Scraps That Might Fill In

Evaluate Gaps and Scraps That Might Fill In

As you can see in the photo above, the binding strip seams fall well away from the corners with this choice, so I was ready to move on to the next step, which is to evaluate the gaps left after planning out the corners of the quilt. Because the gaps left for this quilt were small, I knew I would be using a single piece of fabric / additional binding strip to fill in each gap.

Measure Gap for More Placement Precision

Measure Gap for More Placement Precision (Don’t Forget To ADD ½” For Seam Allowance!!)

With a larger gap, I would start by laying out additional binding scraps or strips to fill in the gap until I had a small gap left to fill. In fact, I will often even go ahead and sew the scraps together so this next step, measuring the final gaps on each side, is more accurate. Once there is a small gap left to fill, I take a measurement. For mitered binding seams, make sure to measure along the edge of the quilt with the double fold bindings unfolded, as shown above, and don’t forget to add ½” to your measurement for seam allowance!

So, for Irish Autumn, I needed to cut a 7½” long strip, which works out to being a 2¼” x 9¾” strip with mitered cut ends. If you are also working with mitered seams for your binding, here is the equation to use to figure out the rectangle to cut prior to mitering the ends:

  • Binding Width = rectangle width
  • Measured Gap + ½” + Binding Width = rectangle length

This is much more straightforward if you are using a straight seam to join your binding:

  • Binding Width = rectangle width
  • Measured Gap + ½” = rectangle length
Final Check Before Sewing Down Binding

Final Check Before Sewing Down Binding

After cutting and sewing in (3) red strips to join the four corners, I added a longer red strip to the final side to make sure I had a long enough tail for overlapping and joining the binding. I also like to lay out the binding one last time across the quilt top prior to stitching it down; it’s so much easier to make an adjustment now than after getting the binding sewn to the quilt.

Enjoy Your Quilt!!

Enjoy Your Quilt!!

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to consider using straight seams or spend more time thinking about placement so that the red would be more centered on each side. I do like mitered seams as they are less bulky, but the mitered binding seams caused the binding to shift and therefore the red is not as centered as I would like. But finished is better than perfect, and perhaps you’ll be able to learn from my mistake.

I hope these quick tips help you try using a scrappy binding or feel more confident the next time you plan out a scrappy binding. And as always, I’m happy to answer any additional questions this might bring up and there might be more insights from others in the comments below worth considering!

Linking up with Tips and Tutorials on the 22nd.

10 thoughts on “Tips for Making / Planning a Scrappy Binding

  1. Cindy Pieters says:

    Thanks for the tutorial Yvonne!

  2. Kate says:

    Thanks for sharing your process. I’ve made a couple of scrappy/pieced bindings, the hardest is getting the strips to line up properly. Thankfully most people don’t notice that, but I guess it be a problem if a quilt was for competition.

  3. Joanne says:

    Thanks for sharing this information! I enjoy scrappy binding and have done something similar on a couple of ocassions. The difference is that I did it “hit or miss” style, rather than mathematically like you. Your way is so much less stressful. 🙂

  4. Interesting to read how you plan out a scrappy binding, makes the process easy to see.

  5. aquilterstable says:

    Appreciate your sharing, especially the equation to use to figure out the rectangle to cut prior to mitering the ends. I’ve never ever seen that, thus would probably use a straight seam. I enjoyed seeing your process considering you had limited options with your limited supply of the stripe fabric. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Planning a binding is a great technique and I love your formula. It is a great quilt and I rather like the binding being a little off, as everything else is so symmetrical – a design choice I would say. To be honest, it would probably bug me, too, but I feel like bindings have a weird way of migrating, even well planned ones. I will watch for your next exploration of this.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to put this tutorial together. It was very informative.

  8. Andrée says:

    Hi Yvonne, I fell upon your post at a perfect time. I will have to bind a queen size t-shirt quilt and will have to use at least a couple of different Kona colours for the binding. I will follow your tips and try to be a little more accurate than I usually am. Thanks again.

  9. mooslie61 says:

    Thank you for the tips, I like how you laid it out to measure, I will have to try it that way next time. thx again.

  10. Andrée says:

    Hi Yvonne, I used your tips for binding the scrappy quilt. It worked like a charm (and I gave you credit!). Thanks so much.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)