Now that I am starting to quilt more elaborately, I noticed that I was not sewing my binding strips on in a straight line. I was matching them with the outside edge of the quilt and wondering why it wasn't totally straight at the end. The reason? The quilting has distorted the perfect lines around the edge. My rectangle is now not exactly even.
You can see here how the straight edges have shifted. I put a piece of cardboard against the edge and the line is not even. The solution? Blue marking pen.
I took my quilting ruler and marked new straight lines along the outside edge of the entire quilt. You can make out the blue marking pen on the top left of the above photo.
The bottom edge actually ended up straight, but you can see my straight edge newly marked on the left.
Ok, so now that the new borders are marked out, I need to cut binding strips. This quilt measure 19 x 15 1/2. You add up the lengths of the sides and you get 69 inches total. Then you divide by the length of the fabric. Most are around 42 inches. This particular batik was only 41. The total would then be 1.68. That means I need 2 strips of binding fabric for this quilt. You always average the number up. And if it is really close to the next number (like 1.87 or something similar), add and extra strip because you need to account for seam allowances. Better safe than sorry:)
Joining the strips: I always cut 2 1/4 inch binding strips, as many as you need for the perimeter of the quilt.
Take the first two strips, right sides together and place them together as above, leaving a 1/4" sticking out at each end. Mark the sewing line as above and sew. Repeat this step for all strips. I don't even take them out of the machine until they are all sewn. I just take the other end of the piece I just sewed and line it up on the next one. Chain piecing basically.
Then you cut off the outside part of the triangle, just leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. You don't have to measure this, just trim off the excess.
Press the seams out to each side. Then iron the entire single strip with the WRONG sides together.
Pick an end and fold down one corner on the inner side of the strip and iron.
Fold the strip back in half and press again.
Then you can trim the excess part of the triangle, leaving a 1/4 seam allowance as above.
Center your strip, with the open edges facing the outside of the quilt. The folded edge should be toward the inside of the quilt.
Start sewing about 6 inches down from the beginning of the strip using a 1/4 seam allowance. The beginning of the strip will be sewn at the end. Sew to 1/4" from the corner and backstitch a few stitches. I usually don't pin the binding on at this point, just line it up with my hands (along the blue line). You can mark the 1/4" stopping point if you have trouble eyeballing it. Cut your thread and remove the quilt from the machine, tying off your loose threads and cutting them.
Place the quilt in front of you so it looks like the above photo. Pull the binding strip straight up and then straight down. Place a pin in it. There should be a fold at the top.
Start sewing at the very edge. You don't need any seam allowances here. You can see the blue line on the right. I line up the right edge of the binding with this line as I go along.
Continue the above steps until you get to the last side, where you started.
In the above photo, you can see that my binding strip overlaps the beginning of the strip. I've marked on my strip where I will make the cut. Give yourself an inch or so past the straight edge on the earlier strip. You will be tucking the top strip into the bottom one.
Cut your fabric and tuck it into the beginning strip.
It helps to pin the last few inches once you've tucked them all together so the layers don't shift.
Sew just past where you start stitching in the beginning and tie off all loose threads.
Now the quilt should look something like this. The binding is all sewn in one continuous strip now.
Get out your rotary cutter and ruler. Cut about 3/8" from the line where you sewed your binding strip on.
Now all the excess batting and backing fabric is cut off and you are almost ready to sew the binding to the back. This is done by hand. I highly recommend the ladder stitch. It is almost invisible to the eye.
Here is a great ladder stitch tutorial that I found to be very helpful.
Turn your quilt over and bring the binding strip over from the front, encasing the raw edges. Find the center of a side and pin.
Continue pinning toward the left, pinning just over the line of stitching where you machine stitched the binding on. Pin until you get to the perpendicular line of stitching.
Starting on the next side, fold the binding over. You should have a nice mitered corner now.
Continue pinning around all corners until your quilt looks like this. All you have to do now is hand stitch it down using the ladder stitch. I recommend hand quilting thread if you have it because of its strength, but regular sewing thread will work as well. Good luck!