Fussy Cut Binding Motif | A Tutorial

Sometimes, you want to add a little pizazz to your binding. Or, if you’re like me, the usual case is that you run out of binding about 2″ away from the end. It is an opportunity that can go one of two ways. You can curse, scream, and throw the quilt in a corner out of frustration, OR, get creative by adding a fussy cut binding motif!

As for me, I usually choose the latter option. Whatever the reason, this tutorial is a fun way to add a fussy cut motif into your binding. There’s a few ways you could use this tutorial (see examples at the end of this post for more):

  • When you run out of binding close to the end of the quilt
  • To integrate your store’s logo
  • Highlight the fabric collection you used in the quilt
  • Avoid matching stripes on your last binding join
  • As a fun surprise

Credit goes to Elizabew Quilts, who I first saw do something similar using 2.25″ binding strips.

General Guidelines

This tutorial is for 2.5″ wide double-fold quilt binding that gets first attached to the front of the quilt and then folded over to the back. This is important since it affects where you place your motif so that it is visible on the front of the quilt.

The rule of thumb is that your motif shouldn’t be wider than 3/8″. If it is any wider than that, you risk having some of it cut off or wrap to the back of the quilt. However, your motif can be as long as you want it to be. In our examples below, both the star and the shark work as a motif, since neither one is wider than 3/8″, although the shark is quite a bit longer than the star.

We need to cut a rectangle that is 2.5″ wide (the width of our binding strips). There should be 0.25″ of space to the left of your motif for the seam allowance. The height of the rectangle will be dictated by your motif. You need to cut a rectangle that is the height of the motif plus 0.25″ on each side (for the seam allowance).

There will be a lot of fabric to the right of your motif. Remember that the binding will eventually get folded in half, so everything to the right of the fold line will be hidden within your quilt. If you don’t like what will be showing on the back of the binding, you can cut out your motif and piece it to another fabric (such as a solid).

Tutorial

First start by cutting out the motif that you want to add to the quilt. In this tutorial we will be piecing it in with a straight seam. If you want to piece it with a 45 degree diagonal seam, you’ll need to account for that when cutting out your motif.

Once you’ve found a motif that is 3/8″ or narrower, place your ruler so that you have 0.25″ space on the left hand side of the motif and 0.25″ space on the top and bottom of the motif. Trace out your rectangle. I always recommend tracing it first to ensure you’ll be cutting it accurately.

Cut out your rectangle. In the photo below, the star is the motif that will show up on the front of my quilt. There’s 0.25″ space to the left of the star for the seam allowance. The “H” will show up on the back of the quilt, and the “V” and “E” will be hidden. I chose to have a bit of negative space surrounding the star, but all of the letters at the top and bottom of the rectangle will be hidden in the seam allowance.

My rectangle below is 2.5″ wide (width of binding) and 1.5″ high.

Piece all of your binding strips together into one continuous strip. I like to do these joins at a 45 degree angle. Then piece your motif to the first binding strip with a 0.25″ straight seam allowance and press seam open. Fold binding in half as you normally do when binding.

Sew binding to the front of the quilt, with your motif right sides together with the front of the quilt. Once the binding is sewn completely around the quilt, press binding open, then press to the back of the quilt and sew it down using your preferred method.

Examples

I added a little maple leaf to this Canadian quilt as a way to add something a little special. This motif repeated quite frequently in the fabric so I pieced the maple leaf together with a solid fabric to get the 2.5″ width needed. (Although you can’t see it, but to the right of the maple leaf is the pieced solid fabric).

I ran out of binding close to the edge on this one! The “Orange” comes from one of the prints in the quilt that looks like gum wrappers.

The quilt below was made for Art Gallery Fabrics’ Mystical Land look book, and since the entire quilt was made from that collection, I added the selvage into the binding as a fun detail.

Although I pattern-matched all the stripes for this binding, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fudge the last seam, since the stripes are quite wide (0.5″), so I added a fussy-cut motif instead.

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