When I started quilting, I knew that a hand-stitched binding was not for me. I didn’t have the patience for finishing a binding by hand, and I wanted the durability of a machine-stitched one.
I’ve tried just about everything when it comes to binding quilts ... Attaching to the front and then the back, attaching to the back and then the front. Sewing a straight stitch, sewing a zigzag stitch. Stitching in the ditch, stitching so there’s visible thread on both sides of the binding. Using pins, using glue, using clips, etc.
My current approach is to attach the binding to either side, the front or the back.
This is what it looks like on the side I initially attach it to ...
And here’s the reverse ...
It’s not for everyone. I’m sure that thread line parallel to the binding, which in this quilt appears on the back, would drive some of you batty. Plus, this approach often requires different colors for the top thread and bobbin thread. I don’t mind tempting the tension gods (they tend to cooperate with me!), and I like this technique because it’s pretty forgiving.
What follows are more details on how I bind this way. It’s a high-level view of the process. If you want the nitty-gritty details—making your binding, mitering your corners, etc.—there are links at the end of this post to other tutorials.
1. Attach the binding to the front or back.
First I determine which side to attach my binding, picking the one that will better camouflage the line of stitching that runs parallel to the binding. (See the first pic above.) Then I sew my binding on that side, mitering the corners as I go.
2. Press the binding.
I like to set my stitches first by pressing the seam; I think it makes the fabric more malleable and creates a crisper fold. Then I fold the binding away from the side I’m working on, creasing the fabric with my fingers, and press again.
|Setting the seam|
|Pressing the binding|
|Admiring my handiwork|
When I bind a quilt, I work on one of the four edges at a time, so I will press one edge and then sew it down before pressing and sewing the next.
3. Glue the corners.
To keep everything in place, I glue-baste my corners. Using washable school glue, I squeeze a thin line of glue along the corner, fold the binding over it, and use my iron to set the glue.
|First I apply the glue.|
|After I set the glue with my iron, I still use a clip for good measure.|
Since I work on one edge of my quilt at a time, the first edge entails gluing two corners. The next two require gluing one corner down. By the time I’m on my last edge, all the corners have been glued down and sewn, so there’s no need for more glue.
4. Clip the rest of that edge.
I used to glue-baste all around my binding, but it was messy and I didn’t think the results I got were worth the hassle. Now I like the quality I get by clipping the binding down before sewing.
I give myself ample wiggle room here. When I sew along this edge, I have plenty of clearance; I rarely catch the other side of the binding in the seam accidentally.
|Whatever did we do before Wonder Clips?|
5. Sew that edge.
I back-stitch at the beginning and end of that edge, and I pull the quilt off my machine to prepare the next one.
|The finished quilt on location at Pintuck and Purl. |
For more on this quilt, see this post.
In my mind, choosing how to bind your quilt is a matter of preference. Everyone does it a little differently, and perhaps by peering into my process, you might tweak your own protocol. But what would the quilt police say? I have never entered a quilt into a show before (confession: I have never even been to a quilt show before!), and I wonder if my approach to binding would be judged negatively. What do you think?
For more tutorials on binding, see:
* Karen’s Quilts, Crows, and Cardinals: This is my current go-to tutorial. It’s long but has lots of helpful pictures. I’ve only ever followed it to do a flanged binding here.
* Red Pepper Quilts: I used to zigzag the raw edges of my binding as done in this tutorial. Now I can’t be bothered with that extra step.
* Jaybird Quilts: I follow this tutorial when I can get away with a single-fold binding.
* Stitched in Color: I’ve tried using a decorative zigzag stitch to finish off the binding, but I get less-than-stellar results.
Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Scraptastic Tuesday ...