A Website that Does Quilt Math for You, How to Finish a Quilt, and a Recent Finish

Here’s a post for you with links to a website to help with quilt math, various methods for binding or otherwise finishing a quilt, and a quilt that we made last week.

I was finishing a quilt recently – a refreshing change for me from making quilt top after quilt top and then not finishing them – and I needed to know how many yards of fabric I needed in order to make enough bias binding for the throw sized quilt my daughter and I were working on.

I found this website with a binding calculator tool: https://www.quiltersparadiseesc.com/Calculators/Binding%20Calculator.php

You put in the measurements for the perimeter of your quilt and it tells you how many yards of fabric you’ll need to make the binding and how many inches of binding you’ll need. I needed 214 inches of binding.

Here’s what that looks like:

A pile of pieced binding strips

On its way to becoming about 300 inches of pieced bias binding strips.  (I made extra.)

While the website is simple, and maybe even a little bit dated in appearance, the tools are well made and amazingly useful and the site is delightfully free of ads.  And there are many more tools beyond the binding calculator!  What a time saver!

To remind myself how to sew mitered corners for this quilt, I found a terrific YouTube video that I can’t find anymore, so here’s a tutorial I found: https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/post/how-to-make-mitered-binding-corners 

The way my daughter and I did the binding on this one is that I machine sewed the binding on the front, and then she hand sewed it down to the back.

Quilt binding, pinned on and ready to sew.

Quilt binding, pinned on and ready to sew.

Here’s a tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew on how to machine sew the binding on the front and back, in a way that looks very nice. I plan to try this one sometime.

I always, always use bias binding for an “everyday, this will be used and washed” quilt, which is most quilts, at our house. For a wall hanging, I’ll concede that you don’t have to use bias binding.*

One option for finishing a wall hanging is to “face” the quilt. Here’s a terrific tutorial for that:

Since I’m making a list and sharing resources, how about yet another method for finishing a quilt?

Wales has a tradition of whole cloth quilts that are not bound, the edges are turned under and top stitched. I have some placemats and one small quilt made this way by a family member and they’re holding up well. The placemats get washed frequently.

*What is bias binding?

Fabric has three directions, or grains, based on how it was woven on the loom. The longer threads that go the length of the fabric is the straight of grain (the warp threads). The shorter fabrics that go side to side on the loom are called the weft fabrics and that’s the cross grain. The diagonal is the bias.

When we wrap binding around the edge of a quilt, if we’ve cut that binding on the straight of grain, there’s a single thread on the edge of that quilt and eventually, that single thread is going to give out and split. Here’s what it looks like when that happens:

Photo of split open binding.

Example of split-open binding. This binding was cut on the straight of grain.

Bias binding however, since it was cut on the diagonal, as that piece of binding goes over the edge of the quilt, multiple threads are going over that edge, which is much stronger and longer lasting. In addition, bias binding is more flexible and about to go around curves. It’s magic stuff.

Taking a binding off and re-binding a quilt is no fun.

Here’s our finished quilt, on the couch:


Finished quilt, on the couch.

The finished quilt, in its new home, on the couch! It’s 48″ x 53″.

Details about this Quilt

My daughter and I worked together to make this quilt as a sample to show my students in quilting class, and also as a couch throw to use. We started with two jelly rolls of batik fabric from Joann Fabrics, each one had two strips of each fabric. The total number of strips was 40. We sewed those into strips, then cut them into blocks, then the blocks into rows. It has a pieced back and the binding, as mentioned above, was machine sewn on the front and hand sewn on the back.