Double-Fold French Binding – Creating the Binding

All my quilts get finished with a double-fold French binding. The following images show the first step in the process: creating the binding itself.

1. Cut 2 1/2″ strips selvage to selvage.

To calculate number of strips required: measure the outside of the quilt. Divide the total by 40″ (the length of a strip), round up. I cut one extra strip above that number to account for the waste in the bias seams used to sew the strips together as well as the overlap needed when attaching the binding to the quilt.

2. Prepare for sewing the strips together. Lay the strips out on the cutting mat. Place the ends just North of the 45 degree angle on the mat:

3. Mark a 45 degree line using a pencil:

4. Sew strip ends together. Note how the pencil line on the top strip ‘exits’ at the edge. The more accurate this placement the more even the strip joins will be:

5. Chain piecing makes the process go quickly. The tail of the bottom layer becomes the top layer in the next join:

6. Trim excess 1/4″ from the seam line:

7. Trim off the little corners:

8. Set each seam:

9. Flip over and press each seam open (clipping the corners in Step 7 prevents the seam from sticking out when pressed open):

10. Press one final time from the right side:

11. Fold binding in half and press:

12. Get your zen on and keep going!

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48 Responses to Double-Fold French Binding – Creating the Binding
  1. Sarah
    April 15, 2009 | 8:46 am

    Ahhh, one of my favorite things in the entire world to make. No Joke. I could sit and cut, sew and fold binding and bias tape for hours. It’s so relaxing!

  2. Amy
    April 15, 2009 | 8:55 am

    Thanks for your tip on how to cut the angles for piecing the strips together. To me, that’s always been the hardest part. I love the stack of binding you made!

  3. Tere
    April 15, 2009 | 9:10 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you!

  4. Julie
    April 15, 2009 | 9:15 am

    Great tutorial. I “know” how to make binding, but never do it in a nice systematic way like this, so things are off at the joins and it drives me crazy. I’ll use your tutorial next time I need to make binding. Thanks!

  5. Elaine/MuddlingThrough
    April 15, 2009 | 9:24 am

    Kathy, I love your attention to detail. Thank you for explaining (with pictures) each step along the way. It looks so much better than my piece-as-you-go method. :)

  6. Kathy
    April 15, 2009 | 9:47 am

    Amy: I used to cut the 45 degree angle off on the ends before I sewed them together. Working with the bias seams was too fussy (it needed lots of pins) and trying to match the strips together just right was always a bit off. I’ve moved on to marking the line and cutting off the excess after they are sewn together, it’s resulted in less headaches and more precise joins.

    ps I also like to stick a pin in my layers to keep them stable before I sew them together. I put the pin far enough away from the actual sewing line so it can stay in while I sew but I’m not going over the pin with my machine needle.

  7. wendy
    April 15, 2009 | 9:52 am

    I make my own binding too, but I never thought to join it that way. I’ll do it this way from now on!

    Question though: when i make double fold french binding, I fold it to meet in the center, then fold it again for a double fold. Yours looks like single fold? Aren’t there raw edges? I don’t use a machine so I can’t have raw edges anywhere!

  8. Kathy
    April 15, 2009 | 10:01 am

    Wendy: the double fold comes into play after the binding it initially sewn to the quilt. After the raw edges are sewn, the folded edge is flipped to the back (for hand sewing) or the front (for machine sewing). The raw edges are then trapped inside during the fold over process. I’m going to show attaching the binding in my next post.

    I’ll research the terminology a little more and report back! I don’t want to confuse anyone :)

  9. Tonya
    April 15, 2009 | 10:04 am

    Thank you for the tutorial. This is very helpful.

    And the fabric, can you tell me where the fabrics came from, I am especially looking at the stripe. I looked in your shop, but I didn’t see it anywhere.

  10. Kathy
    April 15, 2009 | 10:16 am

    The fabrics from the top:

    Urban Garden Stripe Blue

    Sole Sunflower Dot Blue

    Amy Butler Charm stripe fabric from my stash

    Mini Muu Mouse & Cheese Turquoise (long story, but this one is in my stash and never made it into the shop)

    Flora Curlicue Blue

  11. Stephanie
    April 15, 2009 | 10:40 am

    That’s how I do my binding and I never have any problems. Great pictures!

  12. Mal*
    April 15, 2009 | 11:21 am

    It’s one thing to generously share your knowledge with a helpful and timely tutorial. It’s another thing to make it so utterly gorgeous. Tutorial eye candy! Thanks for the info and the beauty.

  13. nicolette
    April 15, 2009 | 11:40 am

    I always make my bindings like in your tutorial. Love it! The magical moment of a nearly finished quilt!!

  14. Michelle
    April 15, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! The mouse with cheese binding is KILLING me! I *love* it! :0)

  15. Kristin L
    April 15, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    I make my binding the same way. :-) I used to make the continuous bias binding, but this is so much easier and uses less fabric. Since I rarely make quilts with curved edges, the bias doesn’t seem so necessary. HOWEVER, I read somewhere that the diagonal direction of the binding’s weave when it is made on the bias wears better (stronger) than the weave of this type of straight-cut binding where the fold of the binding is parallel and perpendicular to the weave (and therefore the fold is presumably at a weaker point). I tend to disregard this since my quilts tend to be of the art on the wall type, or gentle use on the bed type rather than drag around baby quilts, but I wonder what you think or have experienced.

  16. Christina
    April 15, 2009 | 1:35 pm

    My favorite way to do binding. :)

  17. Modern Crush
    April 15, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    Dang! Just last week I was scouring your site trying to find instructions for this!!!! Now that I have already finished my binding I wish I could have read this!! Aww shucks.

  18. Andrea
    April 15, 2009 | 3:39 pm

    Thank you for step #5!! This is the way I always make my binding, but when I chain piece it I always get it muddled up and have to pick a few of them apart. I need to memorize step #5 😉

  19. Erin
    April 15, 2009 | 4:53 pm

    I do my binding like this too. And I so love making binding (I think it’s the ironing!). Then I love hand-sewing it on the back side. I’ve always thought it was weird since most people really hate that part. Maybe I should get people to pay me to do it!

  20. Sarah
    April 15, 2009 | 6:37 pm

    Awesome tutorial! Thanks so much – I get scared to cut binding. I’m going to print this out and try it out.

  21. Cathy McMann
    April 15, 2009 | 7:06 pm

    Great tutorial, thanks. My eye was caught by your ironing board cover – love the fabric. Did you make it or is it a commercially available item?

  22. Zarina
    April 15, 2009 | 7:59 pm

    Kathy – thank you for this journal. I just love blogs where we can put as many pictures as we want. My only problem with bindings is that I don’t know how to roll it up as neatly as yours.

  23. Kathy
    April 15, 2009 | 8:18 pm

    Kristin: I’m pretty lame about that whole discussion of bias vs. straight of grain. I’ve too heard the argument that you should use a bias binding on a straight of grain quilt and a straight of grain binding on an on-point quilt.

    I don’t have any quilts old enough to give this the true test. We sure use the heck out of all the quilts in my house though. Washing, drying, dragging around the house, tents, and even sleeping. No wear visible on anything yet!

    Cathy: I made my ironing board top. I have all the pictures, I just never wrote the post! I love that fabric as well. It’s one of those ‘trolling the aisles of Jo-Ann’s looking for cool fabrics’ prints. All it had on the selvage was ‘Made in Japan’.

  24. kelly mae
    April 15, 2009 | 8:45 pm

    easy-peasy! I usually make continuous bias binding. This method is so much easier. Thanks Kathy!

  25. Rachel
    April 15, 2009 | 9:07 pm

    Oh this is fantastic! Great information and wonderful pictures. I’d love to link to this if you don’t mind!

  26. Cindy
    April 16, 2009 | 6:42 am

    I can’t wait for part 2. Even though I don’t quilt, I like to make floor cloths with binding, and I’ve never figured out a good technique. Thanks!

  27. Sandy
    April 16, 2009 | 8:41 am

    I love to make binding tape too! Thought that I would share a cute little something I did with a happy mistake. I made one set of binding way too narrow, but it came out cute with two sets!

  28. LollyChops
    April 17, 2009 | 6:00 am

    Wow! What a fantastic tutorial! I have never made binding before! I’ll have to share this with my mom so we can make it together!


  29. Kimara@weefolkart
    April 17, 2009 | 6:22 am

    I’m one of those people that dread making bindings. You’ve given me pause to consider the “tranquillity” side of it! Super great tute and your photos are ultra helpful. Here’s hoping the next time I make binding my zen can overcome my desire to curse my burning fingers!

  30. Tina
    April 18, 2009 | 10:22 am

    Thanks for the amazing tutorial. Two silly questions from a rather inexperienced binding-maker :) Is this starting with 1 yard of fabric (hence 40 inch length)? And since the binding is cut straight, not on the bias, does it lay funny?

  31. Kathy
    April 20, 2009 | 7:56 am

    Tina: I feel like I definitely need to do a prologue post on that binding. I’ve received quite a few e-mails asking me follow up questions. I cut my binding strips selvage to selvage with the grain so I’m getting my 40″ length with only 2 1/2″ of fabric (hope that makes sense).

    The bias vs. straight grain debate. There are a lot of opinions. I will use a bias binding if I have curves I need to go around, they’re pretty much a requirement for that type of binding otherwise it would never lay properly. I’ve also used a bias binding when I wanted a certain effect with the fabric, usually a stripe that I want to appear as if it’s winding its way around the quilt.

    Beyond that I’m not sure I have ever seen a difference so I do what’s easiest!

  32. KathieB
    April 20, 2009 | 9:49 am

    Very nice tutorial!

    I ALWAYS use bias binding, no exceptions. Main reason: bias binding wears better than binding cut straight. This might not matter so much on a wall quilt, but it’s noticeable on a bed quilt. Also, I just love the way bias-cut binding looks on a quilt–it develops a soft roll that is just hugely visually satisfying to me. I love how bias behaves in a lot of sewing situations and this one is no exception.

  33. JayeL
    April 23, 2009 | 4:41 pm

    Have you ever tried Judy Martin’s Point Trimmer for the angles? It works like a charm!

  34. Sally Bishop
    June 24, 2009 | 6:10 pm

    This is a great tutorial! I havealways pre cut my 45 degree ends and then try to match them up; this is so much easier! Do you have instructions that shows the easiest way to join the two ends once the binding has been stitched to the quilt? I leave a tail at the beginning so that I have something to work with. I get to the end and try to measure and cut to join on the bias but inevitably run a tad short!

  35. kathy
    June 27, 2009 | 2:11 pm

    Sally: I have an awesome technique for joining the ends. I use the method of sewing them together with a 45 degree seam but I have a little trick for how to match up the ends and sew them that is foolproof. Writing that up has been on my to do list for a very long time. Hopefully I can make that happen soon. It’s too hard to describe with words otherwise I’d try.

  36. Lori
    September 10, 2009 | 4:01 pm

    Thank you so much for your step by step with pictures! It was a great big help. One of my quilts called for this particular binding and didn’t say which way to cut it. Thank you again!

  37. Lora
    September 29, 2009 | 10:37 am

    Could you do a tutorial on how to actually ATTACH the binding to the quilt? I have instructions, but they totally don’t make any sense to me (no pictures to explain) – and as a first time quilt-maker, there aren’t that many resources I know of to help…

  38. kathy
    September 29, 2009 | 11:19 am

    I’ve been meaning to do a tutorial on how to attach the finding :) Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom quilts has a very good tutorial on her blog here:

    It’s almost exactly the same way I like to do it.

    Have fun!

  39. Binding a Quilt Part 1 « Misha's Needle
    February 22, 2010 | 11:43 am

    […] Double-Fold French Binding – Creating the Binding […]

  40. Julia W
    April 17, 2010 | 7:27 pm

    Your instructions for making french fold binding are very precise and easy to follow. Having colour also really helps.

    Do you know how to make a TWO FABRIC FRENCH FOLD BINDING????

    I have a reversible quilt and would like to make a different colour of fabric on each side.

  41. Katie Lee Park
    April 25, 2010 | 4:29 pm

    extremely helpful description and pictures

  42. Kathleen
    July 5, 2010 | 11:49 pm

    Thank you, this was how I have been binding my quilts just never heard it called French Fold binding.
    The demo was great.

  43. Linda Pharr
    July 27, 2010 | 6:03 pm

    wonderful! I’m looking forward to binding my quilt and table topper now! Was so frustrated before because no one explained how to do it as easily as you!

  44. DeVonna
    September 20, 2010 | 4:04 pm

    I just started quilting and came across your website looking to find out how to sew a French fold binding and it worked out perfect! Thanks for the demo. Looks like a great website. :)

  45. Evvie Gilbert
    December 11, 2010 | 12:03 pm

    Big omission for newbys…

    It would be nice on step 2 of you would have said to “Lay the strips out(WRONG SIDE UP) on the cutting mat.”

    I’ve now got to shorten each of my strips and redraw the lines on the wrong side of the fabric.
    Oh well, good thing I bought a yard. Mistakes make one NEVER forget. Thanks!

  46. Marilyn Chandler
    March 30, 2011 | 6:35 am

    This is best instructions I have seen. It simple and easy to follow.

  47. Barbara
    June 14, 2011 | 6:28 am

    Checking on Double-Fold French Bindings. I’m doing a scolloped edge on my quilt, and need bias tape because of the curves. Can I sew this on as Double fold French Binding, or stitch on as ‘Bias Binding’

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