I always dread sewing the binding on the front of my quilts, because joining the ends of the binding strips when you get back to the beginning has always been such a chore for me. My quilt books all tell me to fold and cut those ends at 45 degree angle and then stitch them together. I can never quite figure out how to measure them correctly, and it's always awkward trying to fit that mitered seam under the presser foot without some stretching and shifting. The worst part is that I can never remember exactly how I did the last time, so it's a new challenge every time I put on another binding.
A few months ago at a chapter meeting, my good friend Ann demonstrated a method of sewing the ends together that alleviates all those problems for me. I thought I must surely be the last one to learn this method, but I don't think any of us in the group had seen it before. I sewed the binding on another UFO yesterday morning using this method, and it worked perfectly, again. I am so excited about this, and I thought I'd share it with you.
When I begin stitching the binding on, I leave a tail at least 5 inches long, and 6" would probably be a little easier. When you've sewn all the way around back to the beginning, leave a gap 10" or 12" wide, and leave the second tail, maybe 10" long.
Cut both ends straight, as in the photo.
Pin down the beginning tail along the edge of the quilt, as if you were going to sew it.
Pin the ending tail in place along the edge of the quilt, butting it up to the beginning tail and folding it back on itself. Pin in place. At this point we are determining exactly where to cut that second tail.
For this step you must know the width of your binding strips. Initially I cut my binding strips 2-1/2" wide and then folded them in half to make the binding. Yours may be 1-3/4" or 2-3/4" or whatever. You'll measure that amount from the fold and cut off the excess of your binding strip at that point.
In the photo, the seam ripper show where my fold is, and you can see I've measured 2-1/2" over from the fold and marked it with a pin, and that's where I'll make my cut. Remember it's folded back on itself, so make sure you don't cut the binding underneath, just the excess tail!
Open out the beginning tail, wrong side up, and mark a 45 degree line as shown in the photo.
Place the ending tail, right sides together, perpendicular to the first one, with the remainder of the binding strip coming off the top, as in the photo. Pin it in place, and sew along your drawn line.
After you've sewn, you can trim to a 1/4" seam allowance. I recommend that you open out the binding strips to see how it looks and how it fits *before* you make that cut. Ask me how I know that!
Press the seam allowance open, then fold the binding in half again and press.
Sew the binding onto the quilt, closing that 10" or 12" gap.
And voila! you're done! Isn't that fabulous?! You can now see the finished edge in the photo, and I used a pin just to mark where we made that miter.
I hope someone will find this useful, and please let me know if something isn't clear.