Mitering seams on binding

When I read the tutorial on binding for the Wannabes over at M Samm’s, I asked if she was going to include one on mitering the seams at the joins instead of blunt seams. It’s not hard to do, and really reduces the bulk in your bindings. The following is how I do it:


To sew the seams of the binding, place the end of the first piece, right side up, on the bed of your machine. Open up the second piece of binding and place the end, right side down, at a right angle to the first piece. The selvage of the bottom piece points to the right, and the selvage of the top is – well, to the top.

You might note that I have a line drawn on the bed of my sewing table directly straight to the needle of my machine. Some people use an angler, or other devices, I just use a Sharpie fine line marker. If you make a mistake, it cleans off with alcohol, and you can mark it again. It wears off with time, I just keep remarking it.

IMG_1094 I use a leader, put my needle down, and then place the exact angle where the two pieces of fabric meet up against the needle. This works well with any 45 degree join.


I match the bottom angle of the two binding pieces to the line on my machine bed. I sew the seam, keeping the angle on the line to the very end of the seam.
IMG_1096 I chain piece all the binding strips together the same way. I lay the end, RIGHT side up, of the piece just sewn up on the bed, then lay the end of the new strip at right angles again. There isn’t anything magical about chaining them, I didn’t do it for a long time as I just couldn’t “see” it. I finally go brave and tried it – after a few unsewn seams, I conquered it.



Here’s the three seams of the 4 pieces of binding needed for the small quilted table topper.



Trim the seams to about 1/4”, then press them OPEN! Fold binding in half and press.IMG_1101



Apply binding like you normally do. I’m using half inch binding here, and have cut a margin 1/4” of batting to fill up the binding. I quilted too close to the edge of the border, so this is a fudge for me.

Start sewing about 8” down from the start of the binding so you will have adequate room loose to do the final seam.




This next part I read and read about for years, and couldn’t figure it out. I saw it on a Fons and Porter show, but still was mixed up. It wasn’t until Darlene Zimmerman came to guild and taught from her book of finishes, that I finally understood it. For about 20 quilts, I kept her book open to that page while I did this final join. I’m so glad I persevered, as it looks so much better than anything I tried before.

Stop sewing about 8-10 inches from where you started the binding. Fold back the tails of binding, folding them about 1/4” apart.The fold should be about the middle of the loose ends.



Cut off the end of one side at the fold. Yes, AT the fold. Be brave, do it!!



Open up the binding you just cut off, lay the width of it across the remaining end of binding, and cut JUST the loose binding, not the one underneath.



Open out the ends of binding just like in the picture or in Darlene’s book, or Fons and Porter’s book, or any good binding book.


IMG_1109 Pin the ends together in a right angle, pinning exactly on your sewing line. Some people draw a line, I just follow the pins.


IMG_1110 Before I sew it, I gently pull it apart and make sure I have the join marked in the right direction. It saves a lot of frustration!


IMG_1111 I line the bottom pin up with the line I marked on the table, and keep it even all the way up the seam.



IMG_1112 IMG_1113 Trim the seam to 1/4”, and finger press the seam OPEN.


IMG_1117 Fold the binding back as usual, and finish sewing the binding on.


IMG_1118 Viola! The end join looks like all the rest of them.

Give yourself a big pat on the back!. Turn your binding to the back, and sew it down with your favorite method. This one will be hand sewn, but you could sew it in the ditch or even top stitch it.


I hope this helps. I do heartily recommend Darlene Zimmerman’s book The Finished Edge. It certainly improved my bindings.

Happy Quilting,



Bonnie said…
Doesn't everyone do it this way?? I may have to try the straight line from the needle == I always mark and pin my binding together. I'm in awe that you can do it by "eye" so to speak.

I use the finish it off method shown on Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site. If I haven't done a binding in a long time I sometimes go back to check it. It's basically the same thing you mentioned with a different way of determining the final seam/amount to cut off. My biggest issue is I don't leave a long enough length unsewn. Maybe I'll start using the 8" on each side idea. Thanks for sharing.

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