Binding a Quilt...

February 14, 2016

Every quilter has their own 'preferred method' of binding a quilt and there are lots (and lots) of really good tutorials available in books, magazines and on the internet. One more can't possibly hurt, can it?  So - for what it's worth - this is mine...

 

For most quilts I start by cuttting 21/2" x WOF (width of fabric) strips.  For mini quilts or quilted placemats & coasters I might reduce that to 2".  Most quilt patterns will tell you how many strips to cut, but if you've altered the size of the quilt by changing the number of blocks or adding an extra border - I'm always keen - you can calculate how many strips to cut as follows:-

 

Measure the circumference of your quilt (in inches) and add 18", then divide the total by 42" (WOF), rounding it up to a whole number to give the number of strips to cut...

 

Trim off the selvedges, but set one aside: you'll need it later.  Then join your strips - right sides together - with a diagonal seam, as marked in blue, above.  Trim off the corners 1/4" away from the seam and press open.  That may seem (seam?) like a lot of trouble, but will ensure that you don't have any lumps in your binding where the strips are joined...

 

Press the strip in half along its length wrong sides together, rolling it up as you go.  It's a bit of a fiddle, but take your time: you want it to be nice and even...

 

Start binding about half way down the front of the quilt - marked with a pin in my photo - placing the raw edges of your binding along the trimmed edge of your quilt and leaving a 12" tail. Reduce your stitch length slightly (on my Janome I reduce mine to 2.0) and stitch 1/4" away from the raw edge, using a good quality fine thread (like Aurifil 50 wt)...

 

{NOTE: If you're binding a smaller item you may want to start an inch or so away from the first corner and stop stitching just after the fourth, to give yourself as much room as possible to join the binding neatly}

 

Stop stitching a 1/4" away from the corner - you may find it helpful to mark this point with a pin - leaving your needle down. Then lift your presser foot and rotate the quilt by 45 degrees, lower your presser foot and stitch to the corner of your quilt. Remove your quilt from the machine and lay it flat...

 

Fold the binding up, away from the corner at 90 degrees, so the raw edge is in line with the next side of your quilt...

 

Then fold the binding back down along that next side of your quilt to form a neat, mitred corner. Sew on the remaining binding - mitring each corner as you go - until you're 12" from where you started...

 

Trim the remaining binding to 6" and pin it in place.  Then overlap the 12" tail and - using that little piece of selvedge you set aside earlier as your ruler - trim down the tail, so the two ends are overlapping by 21/2" (or whatever the width of your binding is)...

 

Now, brace youself, the next bit is awkward.  To make things a bit easier, make a rough pleat in the remaining 12" of un-bound edge and pin it in place.  This will save you wresting with the quilt as you join the ends of the binding...

 

Join those ends together with a diagonal seam, in exactly the same way as you joined your binding strips.  She says casually... obviously it won't be quite the same, it will a good deal more awkward. But it's worth persevering to get a bulk-free, almost invisible join. Promise...

 

Un-pin your quilt and test the seam before you trim away the seam allowance and finger-press the seam open (run your finger nail along the open seam to crease the fabric) before sewing the the last 12" of binding in place...

 

Now, step away from your sewing machine and gather your supplies for handstitching your binding to the back of your quilt.  I prefer to use hand-quilting cotton which is slightly thicker (40 wt) than the thread in my machine and has a slightly glazed/waxy finish that means it doesn't tangle. You will also need a small pair of scissors, a needle (Tulip's super-sharp, long-length basting needles are my absolute favourites) and a binding clip. You could also use a pin but, as I tend to do all my hand-sewing snuggled up on the sofa, I like to have just one very sharp thing to worry about: my needle...

 

Clockwise from top left: Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt and clip in place - just below the line of stiching attaching the binding to the quilt - bringing your needle out about an inch away; Take a stitch inside the fold of the binding, about 1/8" long;  Then take a stitch through your quilt back (make sure it doesn't go through to the front); once you've taken a couple of stitches you can remove the clip and pull gently on the thread to close up the seam.  This is called ladder stitch, just in case you were wondering...

 

Clockwise from top left: When you reach the corner, secure the binding with about three small stitches and turn the quilt; Finger-press the mitre in the binding, fold it over - just below the stitching line again - and secure with your clip;  Take a stitch or two through the fold in the mitre;  And then a couple more where the corner of the binding meets the quilt back; Before heading off down the next side...

 

Until you reach the beginning, which means you've finished: hurrah...

 

Nicola xx

 

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