Note: Click on any of the pictures to make them bigger.
This is my favorite way to handstitch a binding to the back of a quilt. I’ve been doing it for years and it hasn’t failed me yet.
1. Thread the needle and tie a not in the end. Don’t use a very long piece of thread because it will get tangled and generally be a mess to work with. I like about 20-25″.
2. Start by taking a 1/4″ to 3/8″ stitch in the backing of the quilt, just above the machine stitching line (the picture below is in the middle of binding, so there is no knot showing).
3. Insert the needle into the fold of the binding, right where the thread is coming out of the backing.
4. Take another 1/4″ to 3/8″ stitch in the fold of the binding.
5. Insert the needle back into the backing fabric, right where the thread is coming out of the binding. Continue stitching, alternating between binding and backing.
6. When done properly, the stiching will be invisible.
That’s one of the big reasons I prefer this stitch over a whip stitch. You may notice from the pictures that I don’t have to match the thread, because it won’t been seen once the stitching is done.
I’ve heard this stitch called a few different things, but I call it the ladder stitch. If you pull the stitching apart, the threads form a “ladder”.
The key to this stitch is making sure to insert the needle exactly where it exited on the previous stitch. If you don’t, then the thread will show:
Ok, on to the fun part: turning the corner!
7. As you are stitching, your needle will be alternating between being in the binding and the backing fabric. As you approach the corner, you want to make sure the needle is in the binding fabric. This means you may have to take a couple of little stitches as you near the corner.
Make sure the needle exits the binding at the corner right where the binding intersects with the backing.
8. Turn the quilt, so that the edge you haven’t been stitching on is now sitting in your lap. I bind from right to left, so I turn my quilt counterclockwise. It may be different for you.
9. Take a vertical stitch in the backing, right along the folded edge of the binding. Make sure the needle exits at the intersection created by the machine stitching and the folded edge of the binding. I drew some lines showing the intersection, just for extra clarity.
10. Your binding corner should now look like this:
11. Fold the binding up so that it forms a mitered corner:
12. Insert the needle into the folded corner of the binding, right at the inside corner of the miter.
13. Take a stitch in the fold of the binding, just like you have been doing.
After I turn the corner, I like to take a few smaller stitches for added strength and security.
14. Now insert the needle into the backing and continue on with your ladder stitch.
Notice that every step of turning the corner followed the “stitch in the backing, then stitch in the binding” rule:
1. You start with the needle in the binding at the very edge of the quilt
2. You turn the quilt and take a back stitch in the backing.
3. You fold the binding up to create a mitered corner and you take a stitch in the folded binding.
4. You take a stitch in the backing and continue on with your ladder stitch.
Once you get into the rhythm of this stitch you will find that it goes very quickly. Pop in your favorite movie, settle in on the couch with your needle and thread and you will find that you’ll have your quilt bound in no time.