How to finish quilt binding (diagonal-seam method)

How to finish quilt binding

Who better to call on for a quilt-binding tutorial than Mimi Dietrich? Mimi’s book on how to finish quilts, Happy Endings, has been a favorite of quilters since it was published in 1987 and revised in 2003. In it you’ll find creative ideas for binding your quilts in most any way you can imagine.

(There’s even a section on how to bind your quilts without binding. How do you even do that?)

Quilt-binding examples from Happy Endings
A few binding examples from
Happy Endings

One of Mimi’s smartest tips comes at the end of the binding process—connecting the beginning and end of the binding. And although she’ll show you three different ways to connect your binding ends in her book, the diagonal-seam method is her favorite, as it makes for the smoothest finish.

Take a look at how easy the technique is—it may just change the way you bind your quilts!

How to finish quilt binding: diagonal seam

From Happy Endings by Mimi Dietrich

What a neat way to join the ends of the binding! When the quilt is finished, this diagonal seam will look exactly like any other binding seam. It’s fun to do, too.

1. Stop sewing the binding approximately 6″ away from the starting point. Cut the end of your binding with a perpendicular cut so that it overlaps the beginning end of your binding. The length of the overlap must equal the width of your binding strip. (For example, use a 2″ overlap for 2″-wide binding and a 2½" overlap for 2½"-wide binding.)

How to finish quilt binding 1

2. Open the folds of the two strips and overlap them at right angles with right sides together as shown. Pin them together. Draw a diagonal line between the two points where the binding strips intersect as shown.

How to finish quilt binding 2

3. Sew the ends together on the marked line and then trim the seam allowance to ¼". Press the seam allowance open.

How to finish quilt binding 3

4. Refold the seamed section of the strip, return it to the edge of the quilt, and finish sewing the binding in place. A perfect fit every time!

How to finish quilt binding 4

Happy EndingsFind oodles of inventive ways to bind your quilts in Happy Endings, including:

• Finishing rounded corners
• Making imitation binding
• Working with sculpted edges
• Finishing edges with backing
• Finishing with overlapped corners
• Finishing with mitered corners
• Continuous bias binding
• Striped and plaid binding
• Scrappy, scalloped, and sculpted bindings
• Grandmother’s Flower Garden edges
• Adding trims, cording, piping, prairie points, lace, and ruffles

Pick up Happy Endings for $24.99 and instantly get the pdf eBook for free; you can start reading right away. Or, skip the shipping costs and buy the eBook only—you’ll save $8.00!

Need quilt-border ideas, too?

The Border WorkbookFind the perfect border for any quilt in The Border Workbook—the quintessential guide to framing your quilt blocks! Choose from 27 border designs to strip piece or paper piece, such as Flying Geese, Log Cabin, Sawtooth, and braided borders, plus fun pictorial motifs like hearts and paw prints. Includes yardage charts so you can estimate the fabric needed for the quilt you’re working on, no matter what size.

See more from The Border Workbook >

How many different methods do you use to bind your quilts: more than four, two or three, or just one so far? Tell us in the comments!

18 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I bind my quilts often with a major color, usually the darkest due to dirty edges. However, I greatly enjoy taking small strips of fabric used IN the major quilt itself, sewing these pieces together & then cut them into binding strips. It gives the quilt a fun little bounce, & people find the fabric in the quilt & also on the very edges. I LOVE to add some prairie points into the binding as well – they can ‘fly’ whichever way you like. Play & find what YOU can do – you just may find out that bindings can make or break a quilt!

    —Alene on February 9, 2015
  • I am pretty basic and only use two different methods to bind my quilts.

    —Vicky on February 9, 2015
  • I use the same type of binding method. I usually use a complimentary color for my bindings, and sometimes I use Prairie Points, just love them. Or piano bindings are always fun too.

    —Jeanette on February 9, 2015
  • Just one so far. Having a hard enough to master that one.LOL Maybe in the future, I’ll learn more. For now this one is good.

    —Dot on February 9, 2015
  • I’ve been using the diagonal seam method for finishing my bindings for about 15 years, and when I teach new quilters I teach them this is the best way to finish their binding. It always amazes me that instructions often give the bulky, tucked, method for finishing?!

    I believe that if new quilters learn the simple diagonal seam method from the start they’ll always have binding of which they can be proud.

    —Kayt Deans on February 9, 2015
  • this is how Ilearned it

    —Flor Chavarria on February 9, 2015
  • The binding method I use depends on the quilt shape and purpose, with straight-grain on straight edges and bias on curved edges. I either match the outer border fabric or coordinate, depending on the border fabric. Regardless of straight or bias binding I usually sew the binding to the back of the quilt and use a "decorative utility" stitch to sew it to the front of the quilt. I’ve played with prairie points and other dimensional techniques in lieu of binding when handling is not a concern, such as table runners and small wall hangings.

    —Jane on February 9, 2015
  • I’ve tried several featured in the original edition of Mimi’s book, and I still have others to try.

    —Marty on February 9, 2015
  • I use one type of binding – but after seeing the book I guess I should branch out and try more!

    —Nancy on February 9, 2015
  • I usually use Mimi’s method, it creates the nicest edge. I have been known to fold the back over for binding on small projects that will not get much use, but continuous bias and Mimi’s method of finishing are the nicest looking and longest-lasting.

    —Glenna D. on February 13, 2015
  • I prefer to bind my quilt with the same fabric as the last border so that there is a continuity to the quilt. If I like the fabric enough to make it my large border, I like it enough to use it as the binding.

    —Joann Thomas on March 11, 2015
  • Happy Endings by Mimi Dietrich is one of the most used books in my collection. I recently began using her method of binding using the diagonal stitch and it is amazing.

    —Betty Grove on March 11, 2015
  • I use the diagonal seam using the width-of-binding overlap method. I also love the pseudo-flanged bindings. It doesn’t take much more time to sew two lengths of contrasting binding together and the result far outweighs the additional time, giving an extra-nice finishing touch. I also use this type of binding due to arthritic hands because both sides of the binding are stitched by machine. Hand-sewing, crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, crewel embroidery – I loved them all but needed to adapt to aging joints and not-so-cooperative fingers. Now, my quilts are completely sewn on my domestic machine. My shoulders are plenty strong and FMQ my new passion. The only hand sewing I do is attaching the label. Even that task has been made easier by catching two sides of it at a corner when I sew the binding to the quilt! The internet, in general, and sites such as this one in particular, constantly enable me to try new methods and perfect old ones. I am so grateful to the experienced quilters who are generous enough to share their vast knowledge and experience. My happiest moments are giving the completed quilts to people I love. Quilters are awesome folks!

    We completely agree, Lin – thanks for sharing! –Jenny

    —LIN SMITH on December 6, 2017
  • These are the best illustrations I’ve found for this type of joining of ends. Thank you!

    —Cat on February 16, 2018
  • I gotta say, I was holding my breath the whole time I was doing this diagonal cut. Always used the bulky tucked in method & was always frustrated on how it looked. This method came out P.E.R.F.E.C.T!!

    —Gwen Nyce on January 7, 2019
  • I go online and check out a binding tutorial or a few every time I do a diagonal seamed binding finish. This was perfect! I do add the step of pinning on the diagonal line where the stitching will be, and checking to be sure I have the darn things turned the right way. (It can be pretty annoying to find you trimmed off and sewed with a twist in it.) It worked out the first try! Thanks.

    —Pam Farnham on October 26, 2019
  • Thanks for this! This is by far the easiest tutorial on how to finish the binding with a diaganol seam that I have been able to find. No more weird folding to find the line or twisting and turning it to figure out which way to sew it. Thanks!!

    —fenna on November 14, 2019
  • I hit the jackpot with your very easy finish off binding method! That is after trying a bunch of others in the past year that took at least an hour if not more! I used a thin piece soap to draw the line. Thank you!

    P.S. I am going to shopmartingale tattooed on my–well somewhere out of site to the general public! How did I get so lucky to open you first?

    –Julie on 19 September 2022

    —Julie Manyak on September 19, 2022

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