How to join binding ends: no-tuck technique (tutorial)

Still tucking your binding tails, one into the other? It’s a quick way to finish your binding, but the result can look a bit bulky. There’s a better way to give your binding a smooth finish—and it’s just as easy as the tuck technique.

How to join binding endsPopular author Donna Lynn Thomas has spent 30+ years weeding out fussy finishing methods in favor of efficiency. Her quilting philosophy? Once you establish reliable ways to finish your quilts, your quilting experiences will become frustration free. A goal well worth accomplishing!

Today Donna is a guest writer at Stitch This! to share how to join binding ends in a way that’s so simple, you’ll never tuck again (see photo at right—zero bulk—and her tutorial below).

You’ll find all of Donna’s favorite finishing methods in Quiltmaking Essentials 2. Add her popular quilt-finishing handbook to your library for less than $20—or buy both volumes of Quiltmaking Essentials and get free shipping. (You’ll also instantly get the eBook versions for free.)

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Donna Lynn ThomasYou’ve turned the last corner on your binding and the excitement is mounting! You’re heading down the stretch toward the finish line…and skid to a halt. There’s one last thing left to do: join those tails together before you can stitch the binding to the back of your quilt.

While waiting to present a lecture at a guild meeting a number of years ago, a guild member gave me a quick demo on what I now think is the best way to join binding tails. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I thank them heartily—and no doubt you will too!

Quilt tutorial: how to join binding ends

Note: Make sure you have about 12″ of ending tail and at least a 12″ space between where you started and stopped sewing the binding on your quilt. You must have enough binding length to overlap the starting tail by several inches.

1. Open up and trim the end of the starting tail so it has a precise right angle cut on its end. Using a ruler, measure in from the end of the starting tail a distance equal to the full width of the binding strips you cut, and mark that point. For instance, if you cut 2¼"-wide binding strips, you would make a mark 2¼" in from the end of the starting tail.
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How to join binding ends
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2. Lay out the open starting tail smoothly along the edge of the quilt, pinning it so it doesn’t shift. Open up and smooth the ending tail over it, pinning it so it’s flat along the edge too.

3. Now comes the magic! Mark and trim the ending tail to the 2¼" mark on the starting tail with a right-angle cut. In essence, you’re cutting the ending tail longer than the starting tail by the same distance as the width of the binding.
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How to join binding ends
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4. To join the ends, place the two tails right sides together and perpendicular to each other as shown below. Pin and sew on the diagonal across the corner.
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5. Open up the joined binding to make sure the tails weren’t twisted during sewing. (Believe me, you want to check because someone who’ll remain nameless has been known to rush and sew twisted bindings that had to be taken apart and resewn. Ahem.) Trim the excess corners ¼" from the seams, and finger press the seam.

6. Refold the joined binding, lay it on the edge of the quilt top, and finish sewing it in place. It should fit perfectly along the remaining distance to be sewn. And the join will look just like all the others where you sewed binding strips together. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
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How to join binding ends

Did you miss Donna’s post on how to miter binding corners? Read it here.

Sewing binding: love that final step, or leave it until the last minute? Tell us in the comments!

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19 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Bindings have been my downfall for years. Especially the endings. But now I have learned how to do it and it is not hard at all. I did do some unsewing in the beginning but I am ok now. That is if I don’t let it get cold on me.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on August 27, 2015
  • I enjoy the binding step. Doing this job means that my labor of love is finished AND I use this technique!

    —Betty on August 27, 2015
  • That looks so simple, and so precise. I am about to bind a quilt and I will sure use that method of joining the ends.


    —Barbara on August 27, 2015
  • I love sewing on the binding. Since I incorporate the label into the backing, the binding is the last step before I can give the quilt to whoever it is intended for. Then it’s on to the next quilt!

    —Elizabeth P. on August 27, 2015
  • I always have to refer to a picture tutorial for this step. I like yours! I think it’s simpler than the method I’ve been using. I’ll definitely try this next. And thank you!

    —Kathleen on August 27, 2015
  • I have both of these books, purchased from Martingale of course, and they have saved me many times. Step number 5 is the most important as I don’t like to even think about how many times I’ve taken a seam apart because I was rushing to finish. Donna Lynn Thomas is amazing. These books would make a great Christmas gift for a beginning quilter or for someone like me who has been quilting for over 25 years. I learn all the time.

    —Betty Grove on August 27, 2015
  • I love doing my bindings. And it is not the last step in finishing a quilt — that would be the label, which I save for last because I want to border the label with some of the fabric from the quilt.

    —Sue Fender on August 27, 2015
  • Recently learned this method of joining binding tails and what a game changer! This step was always the most dreaded for me – until now. I love hand stitching the bindings to my quilt backs and usually incorporate the label into a corner. I sit on the sofa in the evenings next to my DH while I do bindings for a quilt. It’s my "Zen" time. The quilt usually spills over both of us – and we can both put a little love into it before it goes off to it’s new home.

    I would like to have both your books however! I’m sure I still have lots to learn.

    —Gayle Mitchel on August 27, 2015
  • Love the technique! I never understood the tucking thing.
    After making a beautiful quilt then having an ugly bump!!
    Thanks for sharing!

    —Edna on August 27, 2015
  • I’ve been using this method for many, many years now. I guess I didn’t realize people weren’t using it. But I agree, the binding means the end of one project and the start of another!!

    —Karen DH on August 27, 2015
  • I’ve been using this method for many years. The only way to join binding ends and have them look perfect!

    —Penny from Alberta on August 27, 2015
  • I leave it to the end then fold it on an angle. I usually end up cutting it and sewing the joining seam by hand aS IT HAS NEVER ENDED UP EAVEN.

    —ELIZAJANE on August 27, 2015
  • Love this tutorial…I’ve sweated over the join more than once!

    —Carol K on August 28, 2015
  • I’ve been doing this for almost as many years I’ve been quilting, 22 years now. I sorta figured it out on my own after several trial and errors. I might stitch it in the wrong direction, but then I go the opposite direction and remove the first stitching. I like the way it looks like all my other joining seams in my binding.

    —Jeannette Cyr on August 28, 2015
  • I love this method for finishing binding. Since I sometimes forget the steps, I keep my instructions in a sheet protector near my sewing machine.

    —LaNelle W. on August 28, 2015
  • Joining the binding is my least favourite part of quilting but I like this method and it works well for me.

    —Linda on November 13, 2015
  • Thanks for a great tip!! I usually don’t have any [problem with my bindings; but this would be a time-saver1 Getting ready to bind 2 quilts and will bind this way! would LOVE the

    —Norma J. on November 13, 2015
  • After much trial and error using other methods, I found this one, and it has saved me so much frustration! I can finally look forward to finishing my quilts, instead of dreading the process and the outcome!

    —Linda Towers on June 25, 2016
  • We make hundreds of (t-shirt) quilts each year. Over the course of time I have found a super easy way to finish binding, and it DOES NOT MATTER WHAT WIDTH BINDING YOU ARE USING.

    As mentioned in article above leave tails hanging free. Snip off a half inch of the binding where you started. Open up that snip and line up the snipped fabric with end of starting edge of binding (where you just cut it). Overlap the ending binding along the snip. Cut the fabric at the left side of the snip. Then continue at from step 4 listed above. You can draw a sewing line if you need to, but after awhile you can ‘eyeball’ it.

    Betty B
    Cypress TX
    T-Shirt Quilts of Texas

    Betty on June 18, 2017

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