Monday, January 18, 2016

Binding- It's not as bad as you think!

I love to make quilts. Choosing the fabrics, the challenge of piecing, watching the design take's all good. It's all good until the dreaded (eeekkk!) binding.  I have tried so many methods and tools and specialty rulers and my bindings were still...just average.  Recently I came across a technique that has really helped to improve my bindings.  If you've read my last few posts, you know that I am on a quest to finish up some projects that have been hanging around for some time.  This little quilt is one of those projects.  As you can see, it is all done....except the binding.

So let's start at the beginning.  The width of your binding strips is a personal preference.  I usually like a narrow binding so I cut my strips 2 1/4".  Some quilters prefer 2 1/2" or even 2 3/4".  There are several schools of thought on cutting straight of grain strips or bias strips.  I only cut bias strips if there are curved edges on my quilt, like scallops.  For square or rectangle quilts, I cut straight of grain strips.  Straight strips are easier to handle because they don't stretch and I think they wear better on the edges of quilts.  To figure out how many strips to cut, you will want to measure the total outer edge of the quilt.  So if your quilt is 50" x  60"  (like mine), you will need  220 " of binding plus about 24" extra.  That's a total for my quilt of  244".  This is also the method you would use to calculate how much fabric you will need for your binding.  Using your rotary cutter, cut the number of strips needed match your total.
Sew these strips together on the diagonal to make one long piece of binding.  To sew on the diagonal, just position your strips right sides together as pictured and draw a line from corner to corner.  Stitch on the line and clip away the excess 1/4" from your stitching.

Fold your long strip wrong sides together lengthwise and press.  Now you are ready to attach the binding.  I lay my quilt out flat and pin the end of the binding strip with raw edges even about halfway along one of the sides.  I then "walk" the binding around the entire quilt, keeping the raw edges even.  This is an important step because you want to make sure that the seams in your binding strip do not end up at a corner of the quilt.  Believe me, you do not want a bulky mess at the corner!  If you do end up with a seam at the corner, just reposition the beginning of the strip.

Measure off about a 10" tail and place a pin.

 Before you begin stitching, mark off  1/4" at each corner with a pin.

Start at the first pin (near the tail), back stitch and sew 1/4" (or 3/8" if you want a wider binding) up to the pin at the corner.  Back stitch at the pin.  Remove the quilt from your sewing machine and fold the binding strip back at a 45 degree angle as pictured below.

Finger press the crease and fold the binding strip back over itself  as pictured below.

Starting at the top edge and back stitching, sew up to the next corner pin and repeat as you did with the first corner.  Continue attaching the binding until you come within 10" of where you started.  Back stitch.  You should now have two tails measuring about 10" each.

Here is where the fun starts.  Fold the tails of binding back and mark a spot between the spots that you started sewing and stopped with a pin.
Lay one tail of your binding strip over the pin and mark a line from the pin that equals the width of your folded binding.  My binding strip is 1 1/8" so I measured from the pin 1 1/8".  

Repeat with the other tail.  Cut both tails on the lines that you made.
With right sides together, place the ends of the tails at right angles like you did when attaching the binding strips together.  Be sure that your strips are not twisted and stitch corner to corner as pictured by the line below.

Trim away the excess.
Lay the binding strip flat and stitch it down.

This technique works every time for me!  I have to credit Heirloom Creations for this great method. If you would like to see a video demonstration, click HERE.

Finally, fold the finding to the back side of the quilt and hand stitch it down.

Another project finished!  Next up.....A jelly roll tote bag!


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