How to Make Scrappy Binding

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I love a good scrappy binding on a quilt. It’s great for using leftover fabric from your project and great for making up in advance so you have no excuse not to bind that next quilt as soon as it’s quilted!

In this post, I’ll show you my super simple method for making my scrappy binding, my no-fuss measuring technique, and a handy cheat sheet binding calculator chart you can use if you want to be more precise!

scrappy binding

Fabric Requirements: Scrappy Binding

fabric strips
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

You can make binding in a variety of widths but I always make mine the standard 2.5″ wide. Feel free to change the width to suit your needs!

  • 2.5″ wide strips of various lengths leftover from your current or previous quit projects – jelly roll strips are perfect but they don’t have to be full length.
  • See the Chart below for how many strips are required for different quilt sizes.

If you have leftover fabric from the quilt you just made you know it will coordinate so go ahead and use it. If not, have fun with your fabric choices. Try mixing solids and prints in the same color family or come up with a two color pattern maybe? So many possibilities!

How Long Should my Strips Be?

For scrappy binding the answer to this is up to you!

I would suggest that 8″-10″ is a good minimum length when you consider the fabric lost in joining strips to each other but you can test this out for yourself.

It all comes down to how often you want to join strips and whether you like the look of lots of fabric changes in your binding or not.

fabric strips for binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

To calculate the required number of jelly roll strips in the quilt binding chart below I assumed a strip length of 42″ (just to be on the safe side as width of fabric can vary).

HOWEVER, for Scrappy Binding a lot of the charm of it is in the randomness so I personally will use anything from full jelly roll strips to 10″ long strips (occasionally even shorter!).

Scrappy binding can be completely random, a short strip next to a long one etc, or you can be methodical about it and cut all your strips to a set length. You will get different looks for each.

A good way to test how your binding might look with your quilt is to use my no measure method below which also gives you visual for how the colors and lengths will look.

How much binding do I need?

I have two methods for you to choose from in terms of how to figure out how much binding you need for your quilt – the ‘measure ahead of time method’ & the ‘lay it out and see method’.

Measure Ahead of Time Method

If you like to know for sure that you have enough binding – or if you are cutting strips from yardage and want to know how much to cut – I have created the chart below with some popular quilt sizes and the length of binding required.

quilt binding length chart
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

In all honesty though, this chart is less useful for scrappy binding as we might not always be using full jelly roll strips so the measuring and checking how much we have could become more tedious.

So for scrappy binding I usually use the method below.

The Lay it Out and See Method

This is my go to method most of the time.

If I have a pile of 2.5″ wide strips and I want to know if I have enough (and what the colors might look like against my quilt) I simply lay the quilt on the floor and put the strips down around it, overlapping them by at least 2.5″ at the ends.

lay it out and see method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I usually add several extra strips to make sure I don’t get caught short after trimming and sewing.

It’s nice for me to be able to see what the binding might look like visually, especially for a scrappy binding project. And for me, this way is quicker and faster than actually measuring the length of my strips!

Joining Methods

I join my scrappy binding (most of the time) with a diagonal seam. However, you can also make binding with straight seams – it’s up to you.

As I understand it the diagonal seams give a bit more stretch and give than straight seams and are perhaps less likely to pop as the stress on the seam is along a longer area. But honestly, I don’t think too much about the why I just like the way the diagonal seams look on my binding strips!

Diagonal Joining Method

To join your binding strips with a diagonal seam place your first strip in front of you horizontally – right side up.

Next place one end of your second strip right side down on top of the end of your first strip at a right angle – like a backwards capital L.

diagonal seam for quilt binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Draw a line or eyeball a diagonal line from the top right-hand corner of strip 1 to the bottom left-hand corner of strip 2 and sew along that line.

Now repeat this process using strip 2 as strip 1 (i.e. right side up horizontally in front of you) and strip 3 as strip 2, etc.

Continue repeating this process until you have the length of binding required for your quilt.

Before you press, for this method you need to trim off the excess fabric to the right side of your stitch line leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.

Just line your ruler up on your stitch line and cut a quarter inch away. Save the leftover triangles for some fun crumb quilting projects later on!

You can see a visual for this whole method in my Video Tutorial below.

Scrappy Binding Video Tutorial

If for any reason the video doesn’t play below you can find it on my YouTube Channel here.

Straight Seam Joining Method

This method is super simple just put the ends of your strips right sides together and sew using a quarter-inch seam allowance. Easy peasy!

straight seam binding strips joining method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Pressing & Folding Your Quilt Binding

pressing seams
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

For whichever method you are using you will need to press your seams (I press mine open) and then fold your binding strip in half wrong sides to wrong sides and press.

folding binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Rolling & Storing Binding

If I am going to use my binding right away I just roll it as it is and get sewing.

scrappy binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

If I am making binding ahead of time for a future project, or just to declutter and use up leftover strips of fabric I like to tape the starting end to an empty thread spool and wrap my binding around that.

storing binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
storing binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
preparing binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I can then secure it closed with an elastic and I can also add to it in future if I find more strips of the same color that I want to include. This is a great way of having some backup binding ready for a quick quilt finish!

binding on a roll
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
scrappy binding
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Above is my box of ready to go binding plus some other leftover bits that might be honored one day to become part of a scrappy binding project!

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