How to Fussy Cut a Quilt Binding

on April 26 | in Books, Quilting, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 166 Comments

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

Deborah Fisher from Fish Museum and Circus captured our sewing hearts with her Spectacular Softies win and her delightful fabric challenge menagerie. We couldn’t wait to get our hands on her new book, Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give!

From the publisher:

    The quilt patterns in this book embrace beautiful color and sewing simplicity. You can take your time to enjoy the process and still have a quilt ready for your next baby shower or winter weekend curled up on the sofa! You’ll also expand your sewing skills as you experiment with the big block conventions; use easy corner triangles for simple detail; or cast tradition aside and use a vertical or horizontal grid. It’s a fresh approach to simple quilting you’ll be excited to make and give.

Deborah shows you how to fussy cut a quilt binding below, a technique used on many of the quilts in the book. We also have a giveaway copy of Quilt Giving! (US/Canada/UK addresses only for a hard copy, with an eBook for all other international locations. Thanks!) Where will your next quilted gift go?! Who’s the lucky recipient?

We’re entering a big season of graduations, baby showers, weddings and teacher gifts. Get your copy of Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give today!

I happen to like binding. It makes everything so tidy and finished, and I like the quiet hand sewing time. Fussy cutting your binding adds a special detail to your quilt or any quilted project. Here are a few examples of quilts from my books that have fussy cut bindings, from Sew Fun: 20 Projects for the Whole Family and my new book, Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give:

Depending on your fabric, you may even have a binding that is different on the back and the front:

First, let me tell you my basic binding rules:

1. I always cut my quilt bindings on the straight grain, not the bias.

2. I always piece my binding strips straight across, not at an angle. This is contrary to many binding instructions. The theory is that piecing binding strips at an angle reduces bulk. I feel that if you piece them straight across and press the seam open, the bulk is minimal and since the seam is shorter, it is less noticeable. Also, if you are fussy cutting your binding, it will be much easier to match the pattern.

3. I usually cut my strips anywhere from 2″ to 3″ wide depending on the quilt and the binding fabric.

4. I fold my binding strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Then I match the raw edges of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt and sew the binding to the quilt.

5. I machine sew the binding on the front of the quilt and then hand sew it to the back. (Check out my blog post on making the hand sewing on your binding invisible!)

So here we go!
1. First, choose your fabric. Look at color and print, but also the size of the print. The larger the scale of the print, the less will show on the binding, but also the more options you will have to use different parts of the print. Here are some fabrics that would work nicely as fussy cut bindings:

You can see that all of these fabrics have prints that are arranged linearly as stripes or in a grid. There is a wide variety of prints but the layout in each is similar. However, even the fabrics with a stripe arrangement are not just regular, straight stripes such as these:

If you do have a regular stripe, there is really no need to fussy cut. Just cut your binding strips perpendicular to the stripes and you get a lovely binding like this:

Place two pieces of paper on top of your fabric to see what section of the fabric you want as your binding. Some fabrics will have just one obvious option, while other fabrics may have a number of possibilities. Here are some examples:

2. How much fabric do you need? You may need more fabric than usual for a fussy cut binding. Check your fabric to see how often the section you want to use repeats. Let’s look at this fabric:

Here, if you wanted to use the navy rows with dark gray to the right, you can see that they are far away from each other. 12″ away! That means you can only cut a binding strip every 12″ and will need to save all the fabric in between for something else. If you are binding a quilt that is 60″ x 80″, you will need 1 3/4 yards, or even a bit more depending on how the fabric is cut at the store. But if you use this fabric below, then you only need 1/2 yard since the binding strips can be cut closer together:

3. Now, figure out how to cut the fabric. Let’s look at the anatomy of a binding to make sure your selected design will fall in the right place. Here is a cross section of a binding on a quilt and a flattened out binding:

You can see how the binding has six sections.The most important section is the front. To figure out how wide to cut your strips, measure the section of fabric between the paper you used in Step 1 when choosing your fabric. For example, let’s use that fabric with the navy row next to the dark gray row. The navy row is 3/8″ wide. Take the measurement of the row or area you want to show on the front of the quilt and multiply it by 6. So in our example, we take 3/8″ x 6 and end up with 2 1/4″. But wait! What about the thickness of the quilt? A and D need to be narrower than the front, back, B, and C, which are wider to accommodate the thickness of the quilt. You don’t want to make those parts wider because it will mess up your fussy cutting. So, make A and D about 1/8″ narrower. I say about, because you always want to make a sample from the actual fabric to make sure the measurements work out with your particular fabric.

5. Now, make a template from paper. Compare your template to the fabric. The navy row will be on the front of the quilt and the dark gray row will be on the back, and the outer edges of the template will show you where you need to cut:

Next, make a sample from the actual fabric.

It is worth the extra few minutes to make a little sample be sure it will work out the way you want it. Sew your binding sample to your quilt with a long stitch so you can remove the stitches easily. You will need to adjust your seam allowance depending on the width of your binding and to get your fussy cutting exactly where you want it:

You can see how the navy row will fall on the front of the quilt and the dark gray row will wrap around to the back of the quilt.

6. You are ready to make your binding! When fussy cutting a binding, just as fussy cutting anything else, always cut just one layer of fabric at a time. Try as you might to line up and cut multiple layers of fabric, it just never seems to work out. Now, check out my blog post on making the hand sewing on your binding invisible!

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166 Responses to How to Fussy Cut a Quilt Binding

  1. uliu says:

    I’ve sewn garments for many years, but so far have resisted quilting. Is resistance futile? Maybe, because these pictures are very attractive and I have a lot of small scraps that I can’t seem to throw away…..

  2. Alesha K says:

    Working on several quilts as family gifts. Thanks for the tutorial, very inspirational as always. The book looks amazing, thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Diane S says:

    I love this! I have used stripes and pieced leftovers but never thought about repeating a pattern in a binding. I am making a quilt for my granddaughter who just turned one.

  4. Andi M says:

    My next quilt will probably go to Project Linus. I would love to use some of these patterns. They look great!

  5. Deb says:

    My daughter’s new mother-in-law is not a quilter. It would be fun to present her with my next quilt!

  6. Nancy Giese says:

    I enjoy hand sewing the binding on my quilts. Very relaxing. Thanks for the info

  7. Kim says:

    I never would have imagined, thank you for the tutorial! Very very cool!

  8. Linda Cejnar says:

    I think the fussy cut binding is great! I have just finished a 30’s retro tablerunner that is going to a friend that lives in Michigan. I’m in California. She moved away several years ago. I would love to win your book. Thank you for the opportunity.

  9. Paula says:

    Thank you! This book looks great! I’m currently starting three wedding quilts, all for friends … one couple got married last September, and two more couples this summer … I better get working!

  10. Kristen says:

    At the moment, I am working on two different quilts. One is a quilt for a big sister– a co-worker is about to be the father of 2 girls and I’m making a heart design quilt for the oldest daughter so she hopefully feels special too. The second is a quilt for my brother, who loves The Walking Dead and needs a blanket 🙂 and I have just the fabric in my stash for it.

  11. Lee says:

    My next quilt i make is going to my niece! A cat quilt!

  12. AngieSue says:

    Our former au pair (who learned to quilt while living with us) now has her own babies….my next quilt goes to her!

  13. Audrey says:

    Thank you for all the info about fussy cut bindings. My next quilt to finish is a quilt for my niece’s wedding. The binding fabric will be perfect to try some fussy cut binding.

  14. Melanie C says:

    Thank you for that awesome binding tip!

  15. Beth says:

    My next quilt is going to my soon to be born grandchild!

  16. Ruth L says:

    Love this concept of fussy-cutting a design detail for binding! It adds a whole other design detail to my quilts! My next quilt is for my mom who will be undergoing chemo next month. Thank you for helping me make it even more special!

    • Best of luck to your mom! I’m sure any quilt you make her will be a great comfort, but I’m glad I could help!

  17. cynthia says:

    thanks, great ideas!

  18. Cindy G. says:

    I just learned how to make continuous bias tape (finally), and it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities! I can see that this tutorial will have a similar effect! My next 2 quilt projects are for 2 of my work colleagues- one may have had her first baby today, while another is expecting his first at the end of the month. I’d best get cracking!

  19. Judi B in VA says:

    I would love to win a copy. I love the idea of gifting a quilt!!!

  20. Andrea says:

    Love the binding technique. I’ve had that happen by accident by now I can do it on purpose, thanks,

  21. Brenda in Washington says:

    What a fantastic tutorial – the quilts and bindings are enticing and scrumptuous, the directions clear and easy to follow. I would LOVE to win a copy of this book!

  22. rebecca says:

    thanks for some great ideas on bindings. always something new to learn….

  23. Janet B. says:

    This would work well on a quilt with a lot of solid color fabrics. I like to make toppers and quilted bags for gifts. Thanks for the new inspiration.

  24. Alicia says:

    My next quilt that I’m almost finished with will go to my great neice that is due in 2 weeks! Thanks for the chance!

  25. brenda says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial. Very clear. Can’t wait to try it!

  26. Carmen N says:

    I’m getting a new great-niece this summer; this would be a perfect gift1

  27. Sue says:

    My next quilt will be gifted to a longtime friend who is moving away.

    • Ugh. I hate when that happens! What a lucky friend to have such a special gift to bring with her.

  28. Mackenzie says:

    My first quilt is a baby blanket for a cousin!

  29. Janna says:

    Fussy cutting a binding, who knew? My next quilt is going to a friend and neighbor who moved two times zones away.

    • I hate when friends move! How fortunate she is to have a special quilt from you!

  30. Deb says:

    Great new idea! Great tutorial too.

  31. Shelley says:

    Nice tutorial! Thanks for sharing and for hosting this giveaway. My current project is a baby quilt with embroidered blocks. Recipient unknown! I always like to have one or two quilts made and ready to give when the occasion arises.

  32. Marcia says:

    Would love this book. Thanks!

  33. Claire Sutherland says:

    I have just found out I am pregnant with my first baby so my next quilt is for me to give to my baby xx

  34. Jennyroo says:

    Fussy cut binding seems very ambitious! But the results are gorgeous so totally worth the extra effort I believe!

  35. Sandy in WA says:

    Thanks for the very detailed instructions. My next quilt needs to be for me, seems I do things for others, about time I kept one!

  36. Catherine says:

    What is that beautiful fabric you are using as the binding in the tutorial? I’m not a quilter (yet) and am not hoping to enter the raffle. It would be perfect for a project I’m planning. Thanks!

  37. Mary Furber says:

    The fussy cut bindings are great. What a clever use of fabric. I cut straight grain binding unless the quilt has a curved edge. And I’ve always joined binding at a diagonal but I can see how a straight seam would work, especially when matching a fussy cut binding. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    • Hi Mary, I’m sure some people are shaking their heads at my straight seam, but it has always worked fine for me! It may be frowned upon for show quilts but that is never my goal anyway.

  38. Mare says:

    This is fantastic!

  39. My next quilt will be the second one for my latest granddaughter.

  40. stacy says:

    These are lovely!

  41. karen in CA USA says:

    I’m so shy about giving quilts away! I have a top made for a quilt I know I will not be able to use in my house, but I don’t know who it would be best for. One of my friends might have a baby at some point, and I’ll probably save it for that occasion.

  42. Diane in VA says:

    Baby quilt in progress , it will be gifted to local human service agency. No more solid color bindings for me…….this is such a cool new way to look at the finished quilt.
    Thanks for the tips on cutting the patterned binding too.

  43. Anne says:

    I love this idea of fussy cutting a binding. Now I know where to turn when I need to figure out how to cut the fabric. Thanks.

  44. Brenda says:

    This would be a great book to have. I loved the inspiration for fussy cutting binding. Being a bias binding person, I select fabrics that will look good when cut on the diagonal, but this gives me lots of additional ideas!

    • Yes! There are also great options for cutting on the diagonal. Look for fabrics that still have a grid, but printed on the diagonal.

  45. Alissa Schade says:

    I would love this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  46. Summer says:

    Wow, what a thorough tutorial! I appreciate the quilt binding diagram. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the anatomy of a quilt binding before! I love that this post has made me think and opened up possibilities!

  47. Jayne says:

    I think bindings are one area we need to focus on most. There are so many options! Sometimes we get the the binding part and are so ready for the quilt to be done! I will be taking a little more time in the future choosing my bindings! Thanks so much!

  48. Karen L says:

    Next gift is a charity quilt.
    Your book looks great.

  49. Jessica Hansen says:

    Fussy cutting for binding? Amazing. A whole new dimension to this quilty world we are in!
    My last gifted quilt I didn’t know who I was gifting it to until I pulled it off the frame. I gave it to my 4 year old for her bday. She asks me every night now to “wrap her in my love” and it’s great.I just pulled stuff for finishing my next top (which was actually my first finished top ever, woah!) but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. Maybe it will be another that waits until it is done to tell me who it wants to go to.

  50. Pat K says:

    I’m glad you cut your binding strips on the straight of grain; I prefer that too. I was piecing them on the diagonal, but will now switch to your suggestion on seaming them with a straight seam and pressing it open to reduce bulk. Thanks.

  51. Jamie says:

    Rock on! I did my binding like this (straight grain, joined in a straight seam) and finally learned how to do the angle method to reduce bulk. I’m glad to see either way is accepted and next time I have to match up stripes I’m going to just push the easy button:)

    • I am sure there are many that would disagree, but it has always worked well for me!

  52. Karen McMahon says:

    My next quilt giving will be for my brother’s new baby! Not sure what it’s going to be so I have fabric ready for a boy or girl.

  53. Carol says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial. It is very well written and easy for even a beginner to follow.

  54. MelodyJ says:

    Very nice simple and colorful quilts.

  55. Chris says:

    I am in the process of quilting a dozen quilts for our Women’s Shelter.

  56. What a fascinating idea! I’ve always had the thought of this at the back of my mind to try something like this but never could be bothered working out how to do it properly. So thank you so much for sharing this!

  57. Wendy says:

    Fussy cut bindings look fantastic! What a great idea. Thanks for including the uk in the giveaway

  58. Tina says:

    Thank you for some great information. I would love to win this book!

  59. Allison C says:

    Looks like a great book. I just gave my most recent project (baby blanket) away tonight to a deserving mother.

  60. Cathy says:

    My next quilted gift will go to our brand new grandson!

  61. Ashley says:

    Next quilt is for a darling baby girl!

  62. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  63. Gloria says:

    Love this! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  64. betsey says:

    I never would have thought about fussy cutting a binding, but it looks great!

  65. Linda Schabelski says:

    This is one great idea I cannot wait to try it!

  66. Barb says:

    This looks like a great book. Thanks for the review.

  67. Sarah J says:

    I have 2 quilts in progress- one is a gift for my niece and one is for my daughter’s kindergarten teacher! Some day I’m making one for me 🙂

  68. Toni in US says:

    I have a two-day old new grandbaby girl, so you know exactly where my next quilt gift is going!

  69. Linda L. says:

    I have a couple of projects in mind to start soon but the first one that will be finished will probably be for my daughter.

  70. Kathy h says:

    Several friends will be new grandmas and I would like to make some baby quilts.

  71. Debbie says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I enjoy making creative bindings so appreciate seeing this.

  72. Southern Gal says:

    I’m making a quilt for my son. He gets a new room makeover soon and the quilt will fit in perfectly.

  73. Beth says:

    Thanks. Love this post– I was just about to approach binding a small quilt for the first time for my mother for Mother’s Day. I would love to win this book. Thanks!

  74. Jennie Wallick says:

    I love the fussy cut binding. I never thought of binding as anything but a way to finishe an edge, but these make the quilt even better. This is my year to learn from books and online classes to make my quilts better. I’d like to be good at this by the time I have a grandchild in the next few year.

  75. Anna says:

    I am making a quilt for a wee boy due in July, and also one for a friend finishing her degree!
    I mostly make quilts to gift, so this would make a good addition to my repertoire.

  76. Lori Morton says:

    Love this book! & all the info you shared on binding! Thank yo for chance to win your Give-a-way!

    My next quilt will be gifted to my Daughter! Is a secret can’t say too much here..but is in her fave color (purples..)…and is “soooo her!”

  77. Patricia Cash says:

    Would love to win this book. And perfect timing for the binding tutorial, I just finished a quilt that would look great with a fussy cut binding. Thank you

  78. Terri Lynn says:

    Very nice. Always a great talent to keep up practice on and relearn again (as we do have moments of memory lapses — what?!). Thanks for the great tutorial.

  79. Nancy says:

    Seems like it’s always the season of giving around my house. I have two baby quilts to make, and a few wedding shower gifts to finish up…What a wonderful tutorial. Never really thought much about binding specifically like that, but it becomes a ‘Wow’ binding that way. Thanks for sharing!

  80. MoeWest says:

    My next quilt will be gifted to my granddaughter next month for her birthday. Great tutorial! I often buy fabric because it would make a great binding.

  81. Vicki H says:

    Wow, thanks for the great tutorial! My next quilt will be going to my sister for her birthday.

  82. Tonia Jeffery says:

    I’ve been thinking about making a quilt for an upcoming wedding, but I also have one started for my husband and I.

    • I have been wanting to make a quilt for my husband and I for years and have never done it. Good luck with your projects!

  83. Marilyn says:

    My next quilted gift will go to my youngest son!

  84. Lucinda says:

    Wow ! I want to win the book then go do some wild & fun bindings

  85. Laura Parker says:

    Thanks for the tutorial.

    My next gift quilt is for my sister in law who is expecting a baby.

  86. Anne Marie says:

    What helpful information – thanks.

  87. Allison CB says:

    Great tutorial!! Thanks for all the binding tips!!!

  88. LINDA says:

    HI, this book looks so neat! Thank You !

  89. Fronye says:

    Fabulous bindings! My next (and first) quilt is going to my son.

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