teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Sunday 16 October 2016

Quarter Inch, Single Fold Binding aka Flat Binding [Tute]

What Is Single Fold Binding + How Is It Different To Double Fold?
As the name implies, single-fold binding has only one fabric layer, while double-fold binding is folded in half before the binding process, thus creating a double layer thickness. Single fold binding is also known as flat binding, while double fold is also known as French binding.

Why Use Single Fold Binding?
Single fold binding:
- is useful when you don't want to add additional weight or even a fraction of an inch width to your finished project;  
- can be cut narrower than double fold (French) binding and will still wrap comfortably around the edge of your project;  
- will lie flatter on both sides of your project, and it's easier to achieve equal measures of binding on both sides, too; and 
It is also helpful if you don't have enough fabric you'd like to use for your binding, as it uses much less material for the same 'finished' look.  

And The Negatives?
Single fold binding is only one fabric layer thick and can't provide the same level of protection to the edge of your quilt/batting and will not be as hard-wearing/durable in the long term as a double fold binding. 

What Type Of Project Is Single Fold Binding Useful For?
Mug rugs, fabric coasters, bags and totes, pillow cushions,  mini-quilts, art quilts and lightweight quilts made of sheer fabrics such as Liberty, lawns, double gauze, etc.

Quarter Inch, Single Fold Binding aka Flat Binding

Cutting The Binding

You need to cut your binding length to the sum total of your project's side lengths with an additional 5-10" excess added to allow manoeuvrability when joining the ends.

eg: for my 8" x 4-3/8" project I cut my binding at 30"
8" + 8" + 4-3/8" + 4-3/8" = 24-3/4" + 5-1/4" excess = 30"

Cut your binding 1-1/8" wide on the straight or cross grain - using this binding width, along with a 1/4" seam, will give a binding that is 1/4" wide, filled with batting and allow 1/8" for natural wastage in the binding fabric turns.  

If necessary, join your binding lengths using either a diagonal seam OR a straight seam. Diagonal seams are essential for double-fold bindings to reduce the bulk of the folded seam, but there is no seam bulk in a single fold binding, so this is no longer necessary.  

However, it should be noted that a diagonal seam is always more robust than a straight seam, as stress is divided over a larger area, so do consider how your quilt will be used when making your seam choices.

Attaching Binding
I'll be attaching my binding to the right side of the quilt top - no stitches will be visible on the binding on this side. When I machine-sew the reverse of the binding in place, a line of straight stitching will then be visible on the right side of the quilt top. If you would prefer the final stitch line to be on the back of your quilt rather than the top, then attach your binding initially to your quilt back instead. This isn't relevant for handsewn binding.

Lay binding strip right side together with the right side of the quilt top. Leave a 3-5" excess tail and start sewing somewhere in the bottom third of the right-hand edge. I've marked my start pin with a small red X.  Sew with a 1/4" seam and mitre your corners as you would when attaching double fold binding.

As shown below, once you've sewn back to the first side, stop stitching within the top third of the quilt.
You should have two long 'excess' tails remaining at the start and the end of your sewn sections.

Joining Binding Ends
I include many photos for this next step, so I'll break it into 4 different sections to make things more straightforward.

1 - Creating Fold Lines
Lay the excess tail ends along the remainder of the unsewn binding edge. When the tails reach the point where they meet, turn them back on themselves as in the photos below.

I've also taken this photo, lifting the tail ends upwards to show exactly how I've folded them back at the point where they meet.

Press the fold to create a fold line mark.

Now lift the pressed, folded line upwards,

and fold it in half, as shown below. You can press this fold also to increase the folded mark if necessary.

Open the binding fabric out flat, and there will be an X-fold mark on the binding.

It's difficult to see the folds, so I've marked over them here with a disappearing pen.

Fold the second binding tail again in the same way and press to mark the fold.

2 - Matching Fold Lines
With some fabrics, it's easy to see the fold marks - if it's tricky to see the scores on your binding, use a chalk pencil or another marking pen to draw over the folds, so they are more evident. I've marked both sides of the binding below so you can follow the next stage more easily.

Orientate your project to match my position - quilt on the left, binding tails going off to the right  Place the excess of the upper tail right side up on the table  Put the excess of the lower tail right side down over the upper tail. You need to match the folded X marks, so the tail ends form an X - NOT with the tail ends straight on top of each other.  

Place them exactly as shown in the pics above and below, and you can fold back the top tail so you can see that the Xs are lying on top of each other correctly.

Place 2 pins on either side of the X in precisely the exact placement I have. This will allow your sewing machine foot to sew between the pins without removing them. You may have to ruche the quilt up to give you more tail length and the flexibility to straighten the tail ends for sewing. 

3 - Sewing Fold Lines
Sew top to bottom across the diagonal between the 2 pins.  

Your stitching MUST start precisely where the fabrics cross at the top edge, then travel through the centrefold X and sew off the fabrics again at the exact point where they intersect at the bottom, just like my stitched line below.

Remove the pins, lay your quilt flat, and your binding should straighten out to fit your quilt top perfectly.

If your binding doesn't lie flat, say there's an unwanted twist in your binding, then this is where I can tell you what makes this binding joining method better than any other.  

Firstly, don't panic - you haven't cut your binding yet, and all can be saved.  

Simply unpick your last binding join stitch line and follow my instructions again. Take care to lay the binding tails out precisely as I did at each stage, and ensure your stitch line goes in the correct diagonal direction across the binding tails.  

I LOVE this method.  

I tried other methods to join my binding ends when I started quilting. My first binding attempts fell foul of cutting the wrong lengths and angles, etc, etc., and I thought I'd hate binding forever, but then I found this technique where nothing is cut and no damage done until you know your binding fits correctly and my quilting life was changed.

Did I mention I LOVE this method?!!!

4 - Trimming Joined Binding Ends
When your binding lies flat, and you're happy with it, then trim away the excess tails with a 1/4" seam as below.

Press the 1/4" seam open

Snip the triangle ear ends away.

Sew loose binding section in place along the quilt.

Pressing Binding
Press binding away from the quilt.

Pay attention to the corners pressing them crisply away from the quilt top.

The single-fold binding will now stand upright around the quilt back.

Press the binding edge inwards, tucked right up to the quilt edge. This should be around a 1/4" turn.

Do this all the way around the quilt.

Mitring Corners
To mitre perfect corners turn in the binding edge over the quilt back until it is snug around the edge of the quilt - this should give you around 1/4" visible binding on the quilt back. Continue this fold as high up as you can at the quilt corner until it naturally creates a 45-degree angle at the tip  Hold in place with a pin.

Fold down the subsequent binding as shown. The previously created 45-degree tip should now automatically create the mitred binding corner. If the corner does t lie correctly, I use a pin to manipulate the fabric folds until I get the perfect mitre I'm looking for. Once you're happy with your mitre, hold it in place with a second pin.

Repeat around the quilt. As you see, I do use Clover Clips; however, they can't give me the precision hold I'm looking for at a mitred corner, and the fabrics can move, so that's why I use pins at corner points.

Hand Sewing Or Top Stitching Binding
At this stage, you can either hand sew or machine topstitch the binding in place as close to the binding edge as possible. You can see in the pic below that I use the inside left edge of my pressure foot along the edge of the binding to keep a steady, even line and distance. The stitch length I'm using here is 3.2 mm.

When I get to the corner mitre, I allow the needle to go one stitch only past the internal corner of the binding. I leave my needle down in the binding and lift the pressure foot.

I swivel the quilt, lower the foot and continue again down the next side of the binding.

I also love to use my That Purple Thang to hold the fabric in place without risking my fingers close around the machine needle (below). You can use any pointed tool; That Purple Thang is my fave.

Finished Binding
Do you notice the sewn binding line around the edge of the top side of this mug rug? In this case, it's entirely in keeping with the quilting, so you don't even notice it. If it's going to be an issue for you, consider hand sewing the back edge down instead.

Tute: Quarter Inch, Single Fold Binding aka Flat Binding

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  1. Great tutorial, excellent pictures! I am saving this so I can find it when I need it! :-) Lisa G

  2. I've never used single fold binding before so I'll use this method next time it's needed - thanks for this tute :)

  3. Great tut. Easy to follow. Have pinned this for future reference. Thank you.

  4. Thank you, so much information! I'm making the Divided Basket now -you inspire me! For the edge of the front pocket it calls for the binding to be made of 2" material for a 1/2 " binding. My 1/2' binding tool calls for 1" of fabric. What am I missing? What don't I understand? Thank you!

    1. Hi Melody, the pattern calls for you to make a double fold binding for the pocket edge. So you need to fold the 2" in half to make a 1" double fold and then fold it in half again to create a 1/2" binding. There are a couple of explanatory photos in the cutting instructions that come with the pattern that may help you if this still doesn't make sense. You don't have to use this type of binding though, you can adapt the pattern to use ready made bias binding or make the pocket front from 2 fabric sections instead of one to create a 'fake' binding or you can leave the binding off altogether. Thinking about it you could use this single fold binding method too if you wanted to. Hope that helps and doesn't confuse more! :D

    2. Hi Chris, I think my brain might explode! Just kidding. Thanks so much for your explanation. I do actually understand my options now. I'm thinking that Anna uses the doubled binding for structure? (There are some floppy divided baskets out there!) I appreciate your time and thought.

    3. Hi again Melody, the structure of the Divided Basket is down to the interface you use in the body of the basket and the divide. If you don't use the correct interface the weight of any binding on the top of the pocket will make it sag. Anna recommends Pellon SF101 (Shape-Flex) or 808 (Craft-Fuse) used along with 987f (Fusible Fleece) to give the basket structure. For my baskets I use Pellon 809 (Decor Bond) and 987f (Fusible Fleece) layered together for the basket and Pellon 809 (Decor Bond) alone for the divide and I've been delighted with the results.

  5. Thanks for the detailed tutorial! I have a mini to bind and have a feeling my binding fabric is just under what I need to do a double fold binding. This way will ensure that I have enough--and since the quilt will hang, it really doesn't need the double fold. You've helped me make a decision.

  6. I'm terrible when it comes to binding, so this is a very, very useful tutorial. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!

  7. Great tutorial!
    Also love the fabric choice! I found the fabric, with the exception of the binding fabric. Is it from a separate fabric line?

    1. Hi Katherine, the fabric is all from the Sewing Room collection by Amanda Murphy for Benartex. Here is a link to the fabric collection and here is a link to my mug rug tute, hope they are useful to you :D


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