Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fluffy Binding

This fluffy binding technique, also referred to as caterpillar binding, is not of my own design. So I offer here a tutorial of my experience making it.

Quite honestly, it's a little challenging as you'll see at a particular step, but in the end it's worth any extra care you take making it.

Select binding fabric that's loosely woven, like homespun. You'll want fabric that will ravel a bit, and also have the same color on both sides. Batik won't work because it's too densely woven.

You'll need to figure binding yardage according to your own project. Be aware you'll cut 4-1/2" wide bias strips that will be joined to measure the circumference of your quilt.

Through a single layer of your binding fabric, rotary cut a 45-degree angle.

After making the initial cut, fold the cut edge onto the uncut fabric to complete the 45 degree angle cut. You'll have two pieces of fabric.

Turn one piece and align folded bias edges. Rotary cut 4-1/2" strips.
Repeat with the second piece of fabric.
As with other binding techniques, sew a 45 degree angle to join the bias strips, making one strip long enough to edge your quilt.

Fold the binding in half, lengthwise, with seam allowances on the inside. Press a middle fold.
Then press a 3/4" fold on one long edge.

Repeat to press a 3/4" fold on the opposite edge.

Trim your quilt backing and batting to the edge of the quilt top.
This was the step I was most reluctant to do, as I prefer to sew binding to a quilt first, then trim to remove the backing and batting.

Open the pressed binding so only the middle fold is evident.
Align the folded edge of the binding with the edge of the quilt back.

From the back, sew 3/8" from the edge.
I repositioned my sewing machine needle to align 3/8" from the right side of the walking foot.

At the quilt's corner, stop stitching 3/8" from the corner. Backstitch.

This is what it looks like from the quilt front.

As with other binding applications, fold a 45 degree angle, then flip the binding strip "north" and "south." Align the binding fold with quilt edge. Sew, beginning at the top of the quilt, stitching 3/8" from the edge.

Approximately 8" from the "start" tail, stop sewing.
Lay the "end" tail binding over the start tail and overlap them by 1/2".
Cut to remove excess end tail binding.

With other binding techniques this is the point where you'd sew a 45 degree angle, but I found it isn't necessary. Since this seam will be hidden in all the fluff of the finished binding a straight-across sewn seam will suffice.

Lift up the unsewn start and end binding tails.
Open the folds. With right sides together, pin the single layers of binding tails.
Sew a 1/4" seam. Open seam allowance. Finger press to refold middle.

Continue sewing 3/8" from edge to complete sewing binding to the quilt back.

According to the original instructions, the next step is to refold each 3/4" fold, as I've shown. These two, folded edges are supposed to be wrapped from the quilt back to the quilt front. I found it was impossible to keep both folds aligned.

So, instead I folded both 3/4" folds into one another.
First turn in one 3/4" fold. Then wrap the second 3/4" fold over the first fold.

Now wrap that two-layered single fold to the front of the quilt,
pulling the fold past the sewing line by about 1/4".

To me, this was the most awkward step of the binding process.

You'll probably be temped to insert pins from the inside of the quilt to the outer edge of the binding, but pin it as it's shown.

That's because you'll be sewing this binding from the back of the quilt.

From the quilt back, sew 1/4" from the edge of the binding. My sewing machine needle is in the center position, and I'm following the 1/4" mark on the walking foot.

This is the trickiest sewing.

At each corner I struggled as to how to handle the binding.
Open the binding corner and sew into it. Stop. Remove and clip threads. Turn the quilt.
Fold the binding at a 45 degree angle and begin sewing on the diagonal fold.
Here's what the sewn binding looks like from the quilt front.

Use small scissors to cut the folds. Be sure you're clipping the fold on the quilt top side!
Since there's a second fold inside the outer fold, you may need to clip each fold separately.

You will see four separate layers along the quilt front.
The fold along the edge of the quilt remains a fold to encase the quilt sandwich.

Machine wash and dry to make the binding fluffy. Use a toothbrush to make it more raggy-looking.
I hope this technique turns out for you. It definitely gives a quilt a different look.


  1. Another one of your techniques that I look forward to trying. Added to my "To do" list which seems to be getting a little too long. Not much I can do about it until March rolls around. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That is an interesting technique! I love the tutorial. I like your idea of not cutting the excess batting and backing until you've sewing the binding on (for traditional binding) as well. I'd never heard that.

  3. what fun!!!I have never seen that done on a quilt, can't wait to try it!

  4. I love the look this technique gives to the edge of the quilt. Great look for kids quilts. Thanks.

  5. pretty neat! Thanks for the great how-to, Linda!

  6. Great Tutorial, Linda, Thanks. I have never seen anything like this before and can't wait to post a link on the Buderim Patchwork blog for our members.

  7. I haven't seen binding like that before. Thank you for sharing it and thanks to Jackie for giving a link to your blog on hers.

    Happy sewing!

  8. That explains a lot. I can now see how the edges are still protected.
    Thanks for the photos, will give it a try on my next baby quilt

  9. I am not sure I like that way but I should try it. But I absolutlely love the check cut on the bias. I always do mine on the straight, but this gives a fabulous look. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Where were you when I was doing baby quilts???? Love this technique and hope to use it soon. Wonderful tutorials on your blog.
    Thanks so much
    Judi in Ohio


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