Self Binding Quilt Tutorial

Not every quilt needs a frame – sometimes those edges just want to be left alone in peace! That’s where a self binding finishing method comes in handy.

What do you mean “self binding”?

It’s possible to finish your quilt without a binding. I’m going to show you how I used a “self binding” method to bind my Christmas mini quilt to give a more modern look. The method (in my opinion) is best suited to small items such as mini quilts, table toppers or baby quilts. I wouldn’t be prepared for the work required to implement this method with a large quilt. (But if you’re that way inclined, go for it!)

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

 

I’ve seen this method referred to as self binding, no binding and the pillowcase method. You’ll go through basting and backing, just in a different configuration.

Baste your quilt top

First up, you need to baste your quilt top to your batting. Because I’ve just got a small mini quilt, I used poly batting and some basting spray.  You’ll want to add a few lines of quilting here to make sure your two layers are well secured. Stitching in the ditch along a couple of lines would be perfect.

I actually decided to go to town and do most of my quilting at this stage. Why? Because I’m lazy! I knew that quilting when the backing is on will require thread burying, which isn’t my idea of a fun night in.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Using my walking foot I straight line quilted, using the seams as rough guides. I quilted it fairly densely as I like my mini quilts to have a fair bit of structure.

Once your batting and quilt top are secured (however you decide to go) trim off the excess batting and square it up.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Attach your backing

You’ll now need a backing piece the same size as your quilt top/batting piece. Place the top and backing right sides together.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Pin all around the edges, but remember to leave an open section to turn the work right side out after sewing. You can learn from my mistake here – locate your gap along one side so that only one fabric is involved.  I left my turning gap along the top of the quilt and it spanned several different coloured fabrics, which makes it harder to match the thread when hand sewing it closed.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

I’ve pinned my edges above. You’ll see I’ve put two pins in the one spot – that’s my little code to remind me where my turning gap is, so I remember not to sew the whole perimeter closed.

I used my walking foot and a 1/2″ seam as the seams are quite bulky with all the layers. If this were a larger quilt I would also zig zag the raw edges or use the “serger” stitch on my machine just to help it stand up to washing better.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Once I’ve sewn the backing and top together around the edges I like to take the time to press back my turning gap seams. I find it easier to get them straight from the back side, rather than when the piece is right side out.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

I also like to trim my corners to make sure there’s less bulk (but be careful not to clip your stitching).

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Close the turning gap

Once you’ve pressed your turning gap seams you can turn the piece right side out.

Give the quilt another press. Focus on setting the seams around the edges and making sure your turning gap edges are still aligned and straight. I’ve pinned the turning gap closed below.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Now it’s time to whip stitch the turning gap closed with some hand sewing. I like to start with a nice long thread, which I double up. I put both cut ends through the eye of the needle and keep the thread loop at the other end. When you take your first stitch, pop the needle through the loop before pulling the stitch tight. This will make the loop close into a sturdy starting knot that will never come undone. It’s my favourite way to tie on a thread.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Quilt, quilt, quilt!

Once your turning gap is closed you’re ready to quilt the piece so the backing is better fixed to the top. If you have a larger project, you may like to put some basting pins in to make sure you don’t get any bunching or tucks in your backing. And remember that you’ll have to bury your ends at the beginning/end of your seam lines. Your start/end points can’t be later secured by the binding. (This is why I did so much quilting earlier.)

Because this is just a mini quilt I felt that two lines, about a third in from each edge, would work a treat. They’re a bit hard to see below.

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

And again, because it’s a wall decoration and won’t be washed, I just did a few backstitches at the start and end of each line. No thread burying for me!

Self Binding quilt tutorial by Bonjour Quilts

Another good press, and there you have it.

If this was a larger quilt, I would have also done a perimeter of “top stitching” around the edge. This would add some extra strength and to help keep the edge seams where they should be.

So there you have it – one way of creating a no binding finish, or a self binding quilt.

If you like this pattern and would like to make a Christmas mini quilt of your own, you can find the pattern in my shop here.

Candy Christmas, an easy holiday themed mini quilt to sew by Bonjour Quilts

Have you tried the self binding method before? Do you have any tips for young players? I’d love to hear them below.

Share or Pin for later:

14 thoughts on “Self Binding Quilt Tutorial”

  1. I saw somewhere that you can “bind” a quilt by folding over the backing , gluing the backing to the front with Elmers glue and stitching it all together. I don’t know what to do about the corners though

    Reply
  2. I have used this method exclusively for a long time now. I never got the hang of bias tape and was so tired of fighting with it. I thought I was brilliant for thinking of it on my own. The largest piece I have done is for my cal king bed and have had zero problems with it. I hand tack the quilt in the squares corners to connect the pieces together. This method allows for small oops and not prefectly straight edges and in my opinion, makes the quilt look more welcoming and fluffy. I also recently started using no-pill fleece for the backing. It makes the world of difference!

    Reply
    • Thanks Tessa, some great points for using this method for a larger quilt. The fleece backing sounds fantastic – it would be super snuggly.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing this tutorial, and especially for providing the tips for using it for a larger quilt. I would love to try this next time I do a little project, and maybe even for a large quilt one day.

    Reply
  4. I am a beginner with much to learn, and I love this idea for the small projects I am making. No large quilts for me yet. Can you direct me to a link for burying the thread when machine quilting? I am not sure what that is. Thanks also for the hand sewing knot idea. That is great, and I had not seen that before.

    Reply
    • Hi Brenda, it’s not hard, just a bit tedious. You leave about 8 inches of thread after you sew your seam. You take the quilt off the machine and use a hand needle to fix those threads manually to the quilt, just like you would in any other hand sewing project. The aim is to have it hidden inside the quilt batting, rather than on the outside. I’m sure if you google it there will be tutorials around, but as long as the thread is secure and not creating an eyesore, that’s a success.

      Reply
  5. No, I haven’t tried self-binding, as I rather enjoy the ‘framing’ of my quilts with regular binding. I don’t hand sew the final edge, as I’ve preferred sewing that by machine with a decorative stitch that adds a bit more protection that the stitches will stay put as the years pass. I make a lot of baby quilts & twin sized quilts as gifts. I’ll keep it in mind when I do a mini quilt in the future as looks very easy & your quilt remains the ‘focus’ that way. Thanks for the tutorial, which I’ve pinned so I’ll have instructions in the future! Love your blog and Merry Christmas to you! Deb E / Oregon

    Reply
    • Thank you, Deb! I still prefer the regular binding too. But it’s good to have options, right? I think you phrased it very well in that the quilt remains the focus with this method.

      Reply
  6. I have used this method several times on smaller sized projects. Love it! I find hand sewing binding to be tedious and haven’t perfected machine sewing completely.

    Reply

Leave a comment

You'll be the first to know ;)

Quilting tutorials. Behind-the-scenes fun. Great deals on patterns. Join 14,000+ subscribers & stay in touch.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.