I've read from a lot of people that they'd love to improve their bindings, so I thought I'd do a tutorial for Single Fold Binding. This is not what I use to bind large quilts, but I do use it for binding small items like doll quilts, mug rugs, place mats, and table runners. I really like this binding - Carol turned me on to it and I think it finishes off little projects so nicely.
Let me start by saying that I've never been good at writing tutes - have a go at this and do not hesitate to ask questions if something isn't clear.
The first step is to prepare your binding. Start by cutting strips of fabric on the grain - I like to make mine 1.5" tall. To sew your strips together, set them perpendicular, corners aligning, right sides together.
Mark a line corner-to-corner and sew on the line. Trim to a scant 1/4" seam allowance and press open.
Repeat with as many strips as necessary until you have a long enough binding for your project.
To attach the binding to your project, lay binding on project top, right sides together, raw edges together. Be sure to leave a long tail ahead of where your stitches begin. You're going to want up to a foot of space (or as much space as you can get, if you're making a smaller project) between your start point and your end point, so take that into consideration when deciding on where to start sewing. Stitch together using a 1/4" seam allowance.
When you get to a corner, stop sewing 1/4" from the edge. Back stitch to secure your stitches and lay your project down as shown below with the binding extending from the project.
Take the binding and fold it up at a 45 degree angle (see below). You'll notice that when you make the fold properly, the tail forms a straight-line extension from your project.
The next step is to fold the tail back down on itself so that it aligns with the next side of your project, right sides together.
Stitch the binding starting at the top edge of the project and continuing down the side until you are 1/4" from the next corner.
Repeat until you have completed all four corners and you are approaching your starting position. Remember to leave up to a foot of space (or as much space as you have) between your starting and ending points. Leave a long tail of binding at your end point.
There are two ways to join your tails - a straight seamed join and a diagonal seamed join. I prefer the former for very small projects, like mug rugs and potholders, and the latter for larger projects, like doll quilts and table runners.
To create a straight seamed join, lay your project flat. Fold your binding pieces straight back on themselves near the midpoint of your un-stitched space. The two folds should meet each other with a tiny bit of space between them.
Finger press the heck out of the folds, then join them, right sides together. Pin together so that the raw ends are together and the folds meet. Stitch on the fold line. Trim seams to a scan 1/4", press open, and stitch your joined binding down. Whoot!
To create a diagonal seamed joint, lay your project flat. Near the midpoint between your start and end points, trim one side of your binding with a straight line perpendicular to the raw edge of your project. Take the other side of your binding and fold it back on itself so that the folded edge meets your newly cut edge with a tiny space between them. On your folded side, measure from the fold the height of your binding. My binding is 1.5" in this example, so I measured 1.5" back from the fold, marked a line, and cut. Did that make any sense at all? Probably not. Check out the photo below.
Once your tails have been trimmed to size, it's time to join them. Start with both tails wrong side up. Take the right tail and fold it down to you so that it's right side up. Simply lay the left tail on top of it, corners aligning as show below, and pin in place. Mark a line, corner to corner, and stitch.
When you remove the pin, your binding should lay flat on your project, like this. Check to make sure it's laying properly before trimming your seam.
If it doesn't lay flat, pick out your seams and try again. If it does lay flat, clip the extra fabric triangle that's sticking up, leaving a scant 1/4" seam allowance, press open and then stitch your joined binding down.
Awesome. Now it's time to sew the binding down. You can use your machine - there are oodles of tutes online. I've tried them and I just don't have the zen to make it work. Each time I machine bind, I drop bits of the binding and it just drives me batty - I much prefer to hand stitch it.
You'll hold your project with wrong side (both project and binding) facing you. Fold the binding down so that the raw edge meets the raw edge of your project. You're now viewing the underside of your binding. Knot the end of your thread and push it through the underside of your binding, very close to the fold, as shown below.
Then fold the binding down again to cover the line of stitching that was used to attach the binding to the front of the quilt. I like to whip stitch one stitch to secure my thread before using a ladder stitch to invisibly bind the quilt.
When you reach the corner, make sure to fold the binding on the next edge of your project in half, making the raw edges of the binding and the project meet.
Then fold the binding again, covering your row of stitches and making sure that you have a nicely mitered corner. I like to make a single whip stitch to secure the corner before continuing with my ladder stitch. You can barely see the stitch in this corner - unless you go looking for it, you'll never see it.
Continue all the way around your project and you're done! Whew. If you've made it this far, I hope you found this tutorial helpful.