Thursday, May 26, 2016

Binding Tip

As promised here is what I do to bind a quilt.  Assumption:  You know how to measure the perimeter of your quilt, figure out how many strips you need, join these strips with a mitred seam, trimming to 1/4" and pressing those seams open to reduce bulk.  First, it is important to leave a good 6-8" tail loose when you start to sew down your binding.  Another good idea (voice of experience) is to pin your proposed starting point. Then run your binding all around your quilt, just matching it with your fingers, checking that no joined strips of binding will land at the corners, which would create too much bulk.  If necessary, back up or move ahead your proposed starting point of stitching the binding down.

The first seemingly tricky part is turning the corner to get a nice mitre.  First stitch to within 1/4" from the next edge.  I have wonderful lines on my walking foot to help me stop at the correct spot.  I like to sew off the edge at a 45-degree angle. I don't backstitch or break threads; once you stitch down the next side you will cross over your stitching, so that effectively locks it.
I don't usually pull the threads out this far! It was just to get a good photo.
Next I fold the binding back on itself at a 45-degree angle.
Try to get it so the raw edges all run straight; ahem, mine are going off at a bit of a slant!
Next, fold the binding once more back on top of itself, hiding that 45 angle.
Align the fold with the top raw edges, and the raw edges of the binding with the other raw edges of the next side of the quilt down which you are about to sew.  I still haven't cut threads you can see.  In the photo below, you can see how these folds create a little 3D double triangle.

Here you can see what it looks like after you've sewed down that next side.

and flipping it to the back so you see how the rather odd-looking corner turns into this little beauty.

All this is well and good and I had it down easy on my first quilt.  Having the final ends finished nicely did not get done very well until several years later when I took a sewing machine cover class at my LQS.  That instructor taught us how to do the clean method I have used ever since.  You end up with a mitred end that looks exactly like all your joined and mitred binding strips.

Lay the just-finished sewing end of binding on top of the 6-8" tail you left when you first started sewing.  Overlap the ends by the same width as your binding.  In my case, it's 2 1/4".  Because it is hard to see in the photo, I dropped a pin to mark the original cut at 90-degree angle binding edge.

Draw a line with a chalk marker a hair's breadth less than 2 1/4"; this makes for a snug final fit.  I sometimes use scissors to cut that chalk-marked line, but I usually use a little 6X8 Olfa mat between the edge needing to be cut and the rest of the quilt and cut with a rotary cutter for a nice crisp edge.

I usually just align the two cut ends as I do for joining the binding strips, but for this little tutorial, I marked the 45-degree with a ruler and my trusty Pentel fabric gel pen.  Thus, you can see how you are going to align these two ends...

I tried to show here how the just-cut binding stays horizontal, and the beginning end of the binding lies on top of and perpendicular to it.
Sew along the 45 angle.... lay it down before trimming your seams to check that it will fit...

Presto!  Again, you cannot see the seam very well, which is a great thing in real life, but not for this tutorial purposes, so I drew an arrow on the photo to help you find that seam.  Isn't that slick?  I do have another full tutorial on this under the Tips and Tutorials tab as well.

From here you'd turn your binding to the back of the quilt and hand or machine-stitch it down.  I prefer to hand-stitch it down, but I'm loving the speed of machine-stitching a binding down, but I'm not exactly loving the look....still working on it.  About a year ago, Judy of Quilt Paradigm sent me to Sharon Schamber's terrific binding tutorial using GLUE!! Yes!!! Try it, and be a convert like I am!  There are a couple parts to it, all worth watching.

Also, Tish of Tish's Adventures in Wonderland showed me another fantastic binding method which I have used twice now (didn't even think to use it on this quilt, duh!).  It is by Aunt Marti, and called Susie's Magic Binding.  Here is the video.  I personally found the blog version better.  She and I are going to have a conversation about the final step of applying binding.  I'm hoping she can provide some insight into a better machine-stitched down version.

Speaking of Tish!  Her adorable husband, David, is busy building (a more manly verb for piecing) Blue Skies but in a rectangle like Sunny Days:
Photo courtesy of Tish; he's so intense!

I am pinching myself to think that someone is making a pattern I designed!  Hope to release it this weekend!  Wiggle wiggle happy dance fist punch the air, say, "Yeah, baby!"  And if Brady is around, he'll either laugh, or most likely, as he does when his mother dances, roll his eyes and go, "Oh MAN! Nanaaaa!  Stop!"

Speaking of original designs and independent designers, I still have another May is for Makers post in the works. Stay tuned all you wonderful wimmin' (my friend Linda's joyful turn of phrase) and men!


  1. Would you believe it has never dawned on me that you do not have to clip your threads when turning a corner, duh. I see it now. And I love the little 45 degree angle thing. I only just started doing that recently. Cutting for the "building of the quilt" will commence tomorrow night. He did such a great job last night. I even left him unsupervised long enough to take a shower. He still had all his fingers and nicely cut blocks when I returned.

  2. Yes! This is exactly how I do my binding. I picked up the tip on starting at the very edge of the binding from Jasmine @Quilt Kisses a few years ago and while it looks funny when you do it the first time, the finished corners are so worth it!

  3. In the beginning, I twisted the binding so many times when trying to do that nice finished join at the end that I was ready to make a boat anchor out of my sewing machine. I found a lot of tutorials on it but just couldn't make it work. FINALLY, I found Sharon Schamber's video on binding and was able to get it to work. You didn't do this but just about every blog post or video I've seen on this kind of technique winds up using a fabric that doesn't have a right or a wrong side ... That.Does.Not.Enhance the learning process. Kudos to you for using showing this with a clear right/wrong side of the fabric.
    Cute quilt, too. I have that 2 from 1 jelly roll book ... somewhere. :-\

  4. Exactly how I do my binding. But I sew to the back first, and then machine stitch down from the front. Way less work and a whole lot less time than hand stitching.

  5. I've been doing my binding like this for years now. I have used Sharon Schamber's glue technique too.

  6. Hi Sandra, I think I have a good handle on the binding part (and I do it the way you do it) but I'm lost on the part where you join the ends together. I'm not getting that. You lost me on this step. "Draw a line with a chalk marker a hair's breadth less than 2 1/4"; this makes for a snug final fit. I sometimes use scissors to cut that chalk-marked line, but I usually use a little 6X8 Olfa mat between the edge needing to be cut and the rest of the quilt and cut with a rotary cutter for a nice crisp edge." I couldn't see where you drew the line and I'm confused about what is happening here.

  7. Great tutorial! Several years ago I was sewing a binding down for my mom on one of her quilts and just magically made the perfect mitered ending. No measuring, just luck. Next quilt of hers, it just wouldn't work for me. So this is the trick! Measure! I was reading Janice's comment above and perhaps a picture with a binding strip where each end is a different color would make it clearer as it was hard to see with the floral one. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy "reading" your enthusiasm. Karen

  8. Very nice and clear instructions Sandra! I do it the same way too. I especially love the trick at the end to match up the binding tails in a nice miter. I struggled with that for a long time (including using the magic binding tool) but love this simple and straightforward way the most.
    Hooray for David making Sunny Days! That is really awesome!

  9. Oh man, as your non-quilting sister I must say this leaves my head spinning lol!!
    Tish's HUSBAND? Quilting? Oh my how cool is THAT?!!!
    And woohoo!! Releasing your pattern this weekend....congrats!!<3

  10. I learned something from your tutorial. Pinning the beginning when testing for seams at corners is brilliant. Why didn't I ever think of that?

  11. Well, I learn something everyday. No more cutting the threads when I turn the corner. Thanks for that tip! I still go back and forth about whether to start the next seam 1/4 inch in or right at the edge when I turn the corner. I would say that either way 3 out of the 4 corners come out fine, but there's always that 4th corner that mysteriously looks more rounded than crisp. WHY IS THAT? (Forever in the pursuit of the perfect binding.)

  12. Thank you for the binding tutorial. I used it tonight and it worked great - will now be my 'go to' tutorial for binding. And thank you for the Sunday stretches. I have been attending a twice-a-week chair yoga class at our local YMCA for a year and a half now. Love it! We do many of your stretches.

  13. Great tutorial, this is how I bind too :)

  14. This tutorial helped make me feel tons better about the binding I'm going to do in the next couple of days. And I even found two new blogs to stalk through this post. Thanks so much for posting it!


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