How to Make a Photo Quilt – Binding the Quilt

Welcome to the final step of your photo quilting adventure – the binding process that will beautifully frame and secure your cherished memories in a photo quilt. There are many ways to bind a quilt, but this method is the one that I have chosen as my go-to binding of choice. With your binding, you’re not just adding a finishing touch; you are crafting a border that frames the story that you have just told in photos and fabric.

The binding not only serves a practical purpose, ensuring the quilt’s longevity, but it also contributes to the aesthetic appeal, transforming a collection of fabric and photographs into a cohesive and stunning masterpiece. In this guide, we’ll navigate through each step, demystifying the art of binding to make your photo quilt a true work of art. The steps involved in binding a quilt include: Cutting the binding strips, preparing the binding strips, attaching the binding to the quilt, mitering the corners, joining the ends, and finishing the binding with a machine or hand stitching. Get ready to elevate your quilting skills and showcase your precious memories with a binding that frames the story you have just told.

With the process outlined, we are now going to walk through this process step by step with photos and explanations galore! Join me as we walk through a quilt binding together!

Step 1: Binding a Photo Quilt – Cutting the Binding Strips

Most quit bindings use a strip of fabric that is cut 2 1/2 inches wide. I have tried other sizes, but I keep coming back to this size as it seems to be the perfect balance.

The first step is to figure out how long you need your binding strip to be. Here is an example of how to figure how much binding you need. In this example, the wall hanging quilt is 25.5 x 35.5. I added two widths and two lengths to get the total length around the quilt. The total was 122 inches. I will need extra for some overlap and turning corners, so at least an extra 12 inches.

Now, we are going to figure out how many strips of fabric we need to cut.

The width of the binding fabric is about 42 inches. So I will divide 134 (122 + 12 – measurements we figured above) by 42 inches (width of fabric or WOF). This is 3.19 strips of fabric to make a border for my quilt. So I will cut four 2 1/2 strips of out of the width of the fabric to make sure that I have enough since the math says that I need 3 + .19 strips.

After walking through this whole process, I got to thinking there HAS to be a calculator out there for people who hate math (aka my sister Stephanie). Sure enough, there is! You can take a look at it here: Binding Calculator. Now that’s exciting!

**For the purpose of this tutorial, I have used a small quilted piece of fabric to demonstrate the steps and techniques of binding a quilt.

Step 2: Prepare the Binding for the Photo Quilt.

Our first step in preparing our binding strips is to join them end to end.

The second step is to stitch along the line backstitching at both ends. Third, trim off the excess fabric. Fourth, press open the seam.

The last step to preparing your binding is pressing it in half lengthwise.

Step 3: Attach the Binding to Your Photo Quilt

Step 1: Lay your quilt right side down.

Step 2: Lay the binding on the edge of the quilt with the raw edges even and fold to the inside of the quilt. Leave a tail about 8 inches long and start sewing 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric.

Step 3: Make a dot 1/4 inch from edge of quilt and stop your stitching there.

Step 4: Sew the Miters into the Corners of your Photo Quilt.

Next, fold the binding strip back at a 90 degree angle. Place your fingers along the edge of the fabric and fold the binding back again so the fold is even with the edge of the fabric.

Now you will need to turn your quilt 90 degrees so you can stitch straight down the next side.

Sew Straight down this side and then work your next corner just like the first one. Do this for all corners.

Once you turn your last corner, stitch out about 4 inches and then pause to decide where you need to stop sewing to join your ends.

Step 5: Join the Ends of the Binding for Your Photo Quilt.

When you turn your last corner, make sure you have at least 12 inches between your start point and end point. This is important so that you can twist your binding ends easily to stitch them at a diagonal.

Now we are going to make the binding fit the opening between the endpoints.

First, trim off one side of the binding so that it lays flat and is about 1 1/2 inches past the center of the opening that you left unsewn.

Second, measure over 2 1/2 inches (or the width of the binding) from the left end of the binding and cut the right side of the binding at the cut line. Now the ends of the bindings are overlapped 2 1/2 inches.

Now you are ready to join the two ends at a diagonal.

Step 6: Finish the Binding with Machine Stitching or Hand Stitching.

Whether you finish the binding of your quilt by hand or by machine is completely up to you. If you happen to be entering your quilt into a quilt show or contest, it will need to be handstitched. I do not enter my quilts in competitions, plus I have bad hands, so I machine finish all my quilt bindings. I think they look very nice.

A variation that I have seen that is quite nice is to use a decorative stitch to sew down your edges. By doing this your stitching does not have to be as perfect. Some people have a hard time stitching a nice straight line and prefer a decorative stitch as it is more forgiving to the perfectionist.

Step 7: Add a Quilt Label to the Back of your Photo Quilt.

Quilt labels are an important part of your creation. The quilt label is like your signature on a painting. Only we paint with fabric and thread!

Information to include on your quilt label:

  • Who the photo quilt is for
  • Who pieced the photo quilt
  • Who quilted the photo quilt if different
  • Date the photo quilt was created

More can certainly be created, but these are the basics!

The binding is more than just a practical necessity; it’s the bridge between the past and the present, weaving together threads of memories into a tangible, lasting piece of art.

Your photo quilt, now neatly framed, is a testament to your craftsmanship and the stories it holds. As you admire the finished masterpiece, remember that each stitch carries the warmth of your experiences and the love you poured into this project. Whether it’s a gift for a loved one or a cherished keepsake for yourself, your bound photo quilt is a unique expression of creativity and sentiment that will be treasured for generations to come.

Happy quilting!

May your stitches and photos continue to tell tales

of love and laughter, and keep your memories alive!


Lori McCroskey is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to quilts, projects, and gifts created with photos printed on fabric. She also has a business where you can have her print your photos on fabric for you! Inspired by her love for sewing, scrapbooking, and family, Lori has a passion for capturing memories in useable gifts, quilts, and crafts that get your photos off your phone, out of the album, freed from a frame, and into memorable keepsakes that your friends and family will treasure. Learn more about Lori here!

Recent Posts