Andrea Funk

By: Andrea Funk on September 14th, 2020

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3 Types of Bindings Used on T-shirt Quilts

Styles & Types of T-shirt Quilts  |  Comparing T-shirt Quilts

The raw edge of a T-shirt quilt before it is bound. When you make a quilt, a binding is used to cover the raw edges of your quilt’s three layers. In this article I will explain each type of binding and list the advantages and disadvantages of each.

In the photo here, is an unbound quilt. In the foreground I have circled the raw edge in yellow. 

There are three typical types of bindings you can use on T-shirt quilts; no binding, half binding, and strip binding.

Not all bindings are equal. They each have a different feel and look. If you are looking for a high quality T-shirt quilt, you need to know what’s good, bad and just ugly!

 

No Binding

A T-shirt blanket with no binding - birthing method is used. A quilt or blanket finished with no binding does not just keep the raw edges of the quilt. Rather the edges of the quilt are sewn under.

In the photo here, the pink is the top of the quilt made up of T-shirts. The light blue is the backing fleece. Each is just sewn to the other.

This method is also called the birthing or inside out method.

What the quilter does is lay the front of the quilt face down onto the good side of the backing material. The front and back are then sewn together around the outside edge of the material. She leaves a 4" to 8" wide hole unsewn so the quilt can be turned right side out through that hole. After the quilt is turned right side out, the opening is stitched closed.

The front corner of a T-shirt blanket bound with the birthing method.A quilt or blanket made this way can only be quilted or somehow held together after the quilt is finished in this way.  A quilter will either use a decorative stitch, embroidery floss ties, or buttons to attach the front of the quilt to the back. If you are looking for a very cheap solution, look for T-shirt blanket makers that don’t connect the front of the blanket to the back of the blanket at all.

Advantages

    • This style doesn't require a skilled quilter.
    • No additional fabric is needed for the binding.
    • No "blind" stitching is required in the process.
    • Keeps the cost of the quilt or blanket very low.

 Disadvantages 

    • The binding is not actually a binding.
    • You cannot have a contrasting binding color.
    • It looks poor.

This type of binding is great for teaching second grader how to make a blanket because they can do it themselves.

Half Binding

half binding on a T-shirt quiltIn this method of binding, the quilter brings excess backing material around to the front of the quilt. In the photo here you can see how the pink backing material has been brought around to the front of the quilt and sewn down.

With this type of binding, a quilter cuts the backing fabric a few inches larger than the face of the quilt on all four sides of the quilt. This fabric is then folded around to the front of the quilt and then stitched down.

Advantages 

    • It's fast and doesn’t require a lot of skill.
    • No additional fabric is needed for the binding.
    • No "blind" stitching is required in the process.

Disadvantages

    • The binding is only one layer thick
    • You cannot have a contrasting binding color
    • The quilting cannot extend up to the edge of the quilt.

This type of binding is great for teaching middle and high schooler students because it is relatively easy to do.


Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts. Consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide.
It's will help you know what you want your quilt to look like and what to look for in a quilt maker. 

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


Strip Binding or a Full Binding

Backing and bindings show on the backs of T-shirt quilts.This is the most sophisticated style of binding. The binding is made from a different piece of material than the backing fabric.

Because of this, you can use a different color fabric for the binding than you used on the back of your quilt. This means you can have fun choosing a coordinating fabric color that looks great with your T-shirts.

To make this binding, a quilt maker first cuts a strip of binding for each side of the quilt. The quilt maker then folds the strip in half. By folding it in half, the binding is two layers thick. This is good for the longevity of your quilt.

Binding a T-shirt quilt on a sewing machine.This binding is sewn onto the quilt in two steps. The quilter works on one side of the quilt at a time. The first step is to sew the binding strip on the quilt from the topside of the quilt. The photo here shows a quilter sewing the first step.

In the second step, the binding is folded over and around to the back of the quilt where it is then sewn down. This is where it gets tricky. This is where the skilled quilt maker is needed.

The binding is sewn down to the back of the quilt in one of two ways. The first way is to sew the strip down onto the back of the quilt by hand. Working from the back, the chief difficulty is neat and even hand sewn stitches.

back of binding on a T-shirt quilt - looks great

The other method is to sew the strip to the back by sewing from the front of the quilt. This is a blind seam and takes years of practice to do perfectly. This is the binding method that we use here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts for our quilts.

Advantages

    • The binding is two layers thick.
    • You can have a contrasting binding color.
    • The quilting can extend up to the edge of the quilt.

Disadvantages

    • It’s slow and requires a practiced and skilled quilter.
    • If the binding is hand sewn to the back of the quilt and if not well done, the stitches may not hold over time.

Conclusion

binding made from a school uniform skirt on a T-shirt quiltIf you are looking to have a high quality T-shirt quilt made with your T-shirts be sure to look at how a quilter binds his or her quilts. If they are not strip binding their quilts, they are either not skilled quilters or they are trying to save time so they have a higher profit margin.

Here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts, all our quilts are bound using the strip binding method by highly skilled and experienced quilters. We want your quilt to be awesome. 


Discover more about having a quilt made with your T-shirts. Consider downloading our T-shirt Quilt Buyers Guide. 
It's will help you know what you want your quilt to look like and what to look for in a quilt maker. 

T-shirt Quilt Buying Guide


Back to: Making Your Own T-shirt Quilt

Here's a comparison of a full binding on the left with a half binding on the right.

compare a full binding with a half binding.

T-shirt quilt folded with binding showing.

 

 

About Andrea Funk

Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since. 

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