The binding is the final finish of the quilt and quite often is put on haphazardly. I remember early on in my quilting experiences that when I had to put on the binding, I did not remember how I was taught in my beginner class, and thought "I'll just do it this way to get the project done and next time I'll learn the right way." Also, because we do not apply the binding as often as we rotary cut or piece or quilt, it is difficult to remember from one quilt to the next quilt.
My very first published pattern was for a quilter's pocketbook that was only 9" x 12" and was bound like a quilt. In addition to selling the pattern, I decided to make some and consign them at local shops. In one year, I made over 100 of these. That is 400 mitered corners and 100 joining of the ends of the binding. Sometimes they looked good and others were not the best. My engineering mind was wondering and analyzing. I learned what causes problems with bindings and have put the answers in my Know Before You Sew reference series.
The idea is that whenever it is time to put on the binding, the reference card is there. Quite often I publish most of this information in my books too. However, I know for myself that I can not usually remember which book it is in when I want to reference a specific method. So the separate card makes it handy to find.
When judging, often the binding can be used to help determine how the awards are given. Also, if someone has mastered the binding, they have taken the time to learn what works for them rather than putting it on and hoping that it will work this time.
A nicely mitered corner that is "square", not rounded or pointed, not tucked in, and does not have a gap at the edge is what is expected. If there is a gap in the binding, it is not going to wear as well. This and rounded corners are the most common issues that I see. Generally they are caused by using too wide of a strip for binding and then expecting the fold to fall on the stitch line. The binding will fold to the back and fall naturally where it needs to based on the width that was cut.
How wide to cut your strips depends on the seam allowance, the finished sizes front and back, and the thickness of the batting. Add all of these together and multiply by two to know what will work best for you. I use 1 3/4" or 2" wide strips for 1/4" finished bindings.
Another tip, do not bother to press your binding in half. It turns out that more fabric is needed on the outside than on the inside and the center of the strip is not where the fold falls if the strip is the right size.
To learn more on binding, watch my videos at my website quiltwithmarcibaker.com or on you tube.