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Quilt Binding Problems Solved

Here our readers share their quilting binding problems and ask and receive help. If your question hasn't already been answered, please submit it here.

If you can add to a response and would like to share your experience with your fellow quilters, please join in by adding a 'comment' after the question. There's usually more than one way to get things done in quilting. We all gain by sharing our knowledge.

Now let's see what our readers are asking...

What thread should I use to attach a quilt binding?

by Patty Raup
(Livingston, Montana)

Patty asks...

What type of thread should I use to attach flannel binding to flannel backing?

Julie says...

I use the same thread that I used to construct the quilt, that being a quality 100% cotton thread--typically Superior Threads 'Masterpiece' or Aurifil on the orange cone.

If I've got it on hand, I'll choose a 3 ply thread as opposed to the 2 ply version.

3 plies are stronger than 2 and the binding gets a lot of wear and tear. Think of the fiber that goes into make a rope. By itself, a single strand isn't very strong. Twist it with other strands and together they gain strength.

Masterpiece used to be 2-ply, but Superior has made it available as a 3-ply...I believe that Aurifil is going that way, too, but I don't have any on hand that is.

How do you know if it's a 3-ply? First look at the spool...sometimes it will be marked there and look like '40/3'. The first number is the weight of the thread; the second is the number of plies. If the spool is unmarked, then check the manufacturer's website...the information should be there.

When stitching my binding (by hand), I'll make a knot about every four inches for added security. I don't really know if it's done any binding fabric seems to wear out way before my stitches do!

I hope this has helped.

Readers, do you use a special thread to stitch your bindings? Share your experiences below.

Thank you!

Comments for Quilt Binding Problems Solved

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binding thread
by: Roberta

I do a tiny blind stitch with double thread to fasten down my bindings. So far my bindings have held up well.

Thread for Binding
by: Elaine DeFoor

Just answered one of my questions!! Thanks

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Stitch in the ditch or binding

A reader asks...

I am going to stitch in ditch on t-shirt quilt. Do I stitch in ditch first or put binding around edge first?

Julie replies...

I would do all the quilting before I attached the binding.

Your first quilting would be the ditch quilting in the seam lines between the quilt blocks and/or the sashing.

My recommendations for the order of quilting are found on the page, "Where to start free motion quilting" under the heading 'Order of Quilting'.

To see illustrations of the order of the ditch quilting see the page, "How to Machine Quilt your First Quilt", about half way down the page.

I'd wait until the end to apply the binding. Adding the quilt binding last ensures that you avoid spending the time to secure those stitches, either by micro-stitching or hand knotting. The job is automatically accomplished when you attach the binding without any extra effort.

Thank you for your question.

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Quilt binding for a flannel quilt

A reader asks...

I have made a pieced flannel quilt top with flannel backing and bamboo batting which I have machine quilted. I usually bind with double fold binding but it appears to be too bulky.

Do you think single fold binding would be better and if so how should I make it?

Julie replies...

In this case, I would not recommend a single fold binding. And this is why.

Flannel quilts are the epitome of cuddly quilts.

If your recipient is anything like my family, this quilt is going to get used and used a lot. That means more washing than a quilt decorates a bed or hangs on a wall. It also means the binding is going to wear out faster, too.

All three of the flannel quilts I've made (and kept) are showing wear on the binding. All are about 5 years old.

The one that lives in my family room is in the worst shape, with the binding having worn completely through the first layer in several spots. Several of the flannels in the quilt itself have also worn through to the batting. There is significant fading and wear of the flannels in the quilt top, too.

The majority of the flannels in these quilts were brushed to create the soft texture we associate with flannel. I think that the mechanical brushing of those fibers actually weakens them. A lot.

Think about it. When you wash flannel, new from the store, there's a whole lot more lint that comes off of it from somewhere. That's got to be fibers loosened from the brushing.

Would I use flannel again in my quilts?


I love the way it feels when I'm snuggled up watching a movie.

But I do consider the quilts made from flannels as consumables. They will wear out and I will (luckily) have to make others. (I don't have to be asked twice to buy more quilt fabric!)

Try a Homespun!

As to your binding situation. I suggest that you consider using a homespun as an alternative to flannel for the binding.

Homespun cottons play nicely with flannel. Because they are woven from thread dyed yarns to create their patterns, they have no right or wrong side. Homespuns are generally not brushed so they don't have that fuzzy, soft flannel texture. They tend to be thinner than flannel which will make it easier to create a traditional double fold binding with one.

I hope this has helped you with your decision.

Readers, what do you think? Do add your suggestions and thoughts via the 'Comment' link below.

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Can I use embroidery thread for binding?

A reader asks...

What type thread is preferable to attach the binding?

I have used embroidery thread for the machine quilting, but normally I would use polyester or cotton/poly to machine quilt and then continue using the same thread for the binding.

Julie replies...

If you're finishing the binding by hand, ideally the stitches are invisible.

A thread that is either a close match in color or value and blends well with the binding and outside edge fabrics is my first choice.

I prefer to use a 50wt 100% cotton; that's what I've used to piece the quilt and I've got a huge supply on hand. Aurifil and Masterpiece are my 'go-to' threads.

If your embroidery thread is a good match it may be a satisfactory choice. There are several qualities, though, that would rule it out in my experience. They are:
  1. If the thread is very shiny or metallic—it'd be hard to hide those stitches.
  2. If it's rayon—rayon is a 'princess' thread...scrumptious to look at, but not much strength. It's even more fragile when it's wet. Not the kind of the thread you'd spend your valuable time stitching on a quilt that'll receive a lot of love. I fear it would not hold up.
  3. A heavier weight—the thicker the thread, the harder it is to hide the stitches. It'll depend on how thick your thread is.

The good thing is a little testing on your part will give you answers you seek.

Take your practice quilt sanwich and attach a short (6" should be plenty) of binding to it and try out your threads. If you're happy with the result move to your quilt. If you don't like the effect, go back to the reliable threads you've used in the past.

Thank you for your question!

Readers, what do you use? Let us know using the 'comments' link just below. Thank you!

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Is machine stitched binding acceptable for quilt show quilts?

by Kaye
(Pinehurst, NC)

Kaye asks...

I find it hard to hand sew bindings.

If you place binding on front to go to the back then stitch in the ditch on the front to catch on the back, is this consider ok when entering a quilt in a show?

Julie replies...

I have only ever entered my local guild show, but from the reading that I've done, a technique done well is a technique done well.

Just like hand stitching the binding, you'll want:
  • Even stitching
  • All the edges are caught in the stitching
  • The binding is full to the edge
  • Miters are even on front and back

Remember, too, that judging is subjective. You may have a judge in one show that is not biased one way or another as to hand or machine work; in another show the judge believes that only a hand stitched binding will do. My mom experienced firsthand with quilts she entered.

A quilt would wins a ribbon in one show, and zippo in the next.

It happens. Thankfully, the reason we make a quilt is for a personal need we wish to fulfill. That fulfillment trumps a ribbon every time.

Readers! Your thoughts? Please share using the comments link below!

Comments for Is machine stitched binding acceptable for quilt show quilts?

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problem with my quilt binding
by: Stephanie

I just finished sewing my quilt binding by hand to the back. I got to the last mitered corner and it refuses to miter and has a wierd bulge, almost like there's too much fabric, help!

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