How do I finish a quilt? You have just pieced a quilt top in a quilt along or on your own and are wondering how do you finish the quilt into that soft cozy blanket your grandmother would have made?
Finish a Quilt, 6 Simple Steps
This tutorial will show you how to finish a quilt, complete with binding in 6 simple steps!
Step 1 Make the Backing
You will need to measure your quilt top length and width. The backing needs to be 2 inches larger on each side than the quilt top. So if you add 4″ to your width and length measurements you will know what size your backing needs to be.
Most of the time you will need to piece the backing to make it wide enough. Another option is to use wide backing fabric just for quilt backs. I usually go the pieced back option. This time I decided to make the backing giant size of the blocks on the front of the quilt, just for something different.
Step 2 Batting
You will also need batting. This is the layer that adds the warmth to the quilt. It needs to be the same size as your backing piece.
There are many types of batting, but I like to use cotton or cotton/poly blend. Some battings are better for machine quilting. Consider what kind of quilting you will be doing on the quilt.
Step 3 Quilt Sandwich
In this step you will place your quilt top, batting and backing together like a sandwich and get them ready for quilting.
Lay your backing on a flat surface, wrong side up. Place the batting on top and smooth it out. Then the pieced quilt top on the top right side up. If you are pin basting, this is great pin all the layers together usually about every 6 – 8″ over the quilt.
If you are spray basting, which I highly recommend you will need to spray between each layer, smoothing it out as you go.
I usually fold back the batting halfway, spray and then smooth out. Then do the other half and smooth out. Repeat the steps for the quilt top.
You can purchase a spray baste in a can to spray on, but it is expensive. I made my own following this recipe and it works extremely well! You can find my recipe here.
Using this recipe, you don’t have to worry about any toxic smells or spray chemicals. It is also very cheap to make! And when your quilt is complete, you wash it and the spray baste comes out!
Step 4 Quilt your Quilt!
To keep the layers of your quilt together it needs to be quilted. This can be done by machine or hand. Sometimes people tie quilts too.
There are a few ways to quilt a quilt, but I like to use my walking foot with a larger straight stitch. I also like free motion quilting.
In the photos below you can see I used a lot of wavy lines. I also tried out some other designs of quilting.
Step 5 Trim and Bind
After your quilt is quilted, you will need to trim the backing and batting to the same size as the top. Then you will need to measure the perimeter of your quilt to find out how many inches of binding you will need.
Divide that number by the width of your binding fabric, 42 if using full width. This will tell you how many strips you will need. I usually cut my binding strips crosswise and 2.5″ wide. Next, you sew them all together into one long strip. Follow my binding tutorial here for how to apply the binding.
The tutorial is actually for strip pieced binding, but the way it is put on the quilt is the same. I machine stitch my bindings. So I stitch the binding to the back of the quilt using 1/4″ seam, turn it to the front and stitch down using a small zigzag stitch. If you want to hand stitch it, you should machine stitch it to the front and turn to the back and hand stitch down.
Step 6 Quilt Label
Every quilt needs a label with the quilt maker’s name and date. See my tutorial on making a quilt label here.
There are different ways to add the label, but on the quilt in the photo, I added the label before the binding and then the edges were finished in the binding.
With these 6 simple steps your quilt will be finished. Just wash it in the washing machine with soap and warm water.
It will be ready to use or to gift and enjoy for years to come!