The Quilt is Ready for Delivery! And a Tutorial on Quilt Binding
When I make a quilt sandwich I like to lay the backing fabric out on the floor (sometimes using masking tape to keep it square), align the batting with the backing and then the front of the quilt on the top. I use a spray adhesive to hold the layers together. Because I was going to use my frame to do the quilting, I wanted to ensure that when the quilt was rolled it didn’t shift. I added quilting pins in a grid of approximately 10 inches as well. I made sure to remove these before I started to stitch each pass.
I decided to use a simple pantograph – just a wavy line – for quilting to ensure that the quilt stays soft and puffy. Again this was a first for me. I tend to prefer to free motion work (most of my work is ‘quilt art’ rather than ‘traditional quilting’) and I wanted to discipline myself to using regular patterns when the work really calls for it.
I had an additional challenge of trying to work with rollers that were technically too short (almost the same length as the quilt width). Normally you use a minimun of at least the width of the quilt plus a foot to allow access to the sewing machine to change bobbins and to ensure that you can quilt to the edge of the quilt. Because I have to be able to prepare the house for showings (it’s on the market) I didn’t want to change to full length rollers. As a result I was not able to stitch right to the edge of the quilt and had to do some additional work once it came off the frame but did accomplish my goal of keeping the edges aligned.
Once off the frame I returned to my trusty tiled floor and use the tiles to roughly align the edges of the quilt. Measurements from corner to corner (X) showed that the quilt was basically square. So then I trimmed the edges by inserting one of my cutting board under the quilt and aligning my ‘large’ square (20 1/2 in) in one corner, and two long rulers at right angles along two sides of the quilt. Once I felt that I had a true corner that would work with two sides I used my rotary cutter to trim the sides ready for the binding. I used these two sides to help me align the sides for the other corners using the same positioning of rulers. I double check before cutting to ensure that the measurements through the centre of the quilt (w and l) and the width and length at the edges of the quilt are basically the same. Small discrepancies (1/2 in or less) I rectify when I apply the binding as I sometime feel that they arise from the quilt relaxing differently in different places. It works for me!
Binding the Quilt
I cut strips of fabric for the binding of a normal quilt 2 1/4 inches wide on the straight of grain. The length equals the perimeter of the quilt plus at least a foot. I piece the strips together on the bias so that the thickness of the seam is distributed and does not come all at one place in the binding.
I do this by placing right sides together, at a right angle to each other, allowing enough of the cut edge from the under piece to show so that I can stitch on an angle from where the two pieces cross to the opposite corner. I always check to make sure that I am sewing the right corners together to get a continuous piece as the other angle gives me a mitered corner! (See illustration below of joining the ends at right angles).
The next step is to press the binding fabric in half so that it measures just over an inch wide. Some people press the seam open but my thinking is that pressing the seam to one side is stronger.
I pin the folded binding to the edge of the quilt measuring carefully to make sure that opposite sides are exactly the same length. This sometime takes some pinning and re-pinning as the first of the sides pinned may need to be ‘shortened’ or ‘lengthened’ to match the corresponding side. I hold the binding taut but leave the quilt fabric relaxed, but not so much so that it ‘bubbles’ when stitched. I start pinning about 2 feet from a corner and leave a tail of binding about 10 in long at the start of my pinning. There should be at least the same amount of binding hanging free when you stop stitching at the other end.
Some people like to use a walking foot to stitch the binding to a quilt and I sometimes do this. On this quilt I opted to stitch using a quarter inch foot.
I stitch to the nearest corner and I stop stitching 1/4 inch from the edge and turn the fabric so that I can stitch directly to the corner of the quilt at a 45 degree angle to the binding seam, stitching right off the quilt. I remove the quilt from under the pressure foot of the machine and fold the binding so that it aligns with the next side to be stitched. The fold in the binding aligns with the side just stitched. I begin the stitching the new side at the edge of the quilt and repeat this process at each of the subsequent corners.
When I am approaching the starting point and the loose end of binding, I stop stitching about 10-12 inches short of where they will meet. This gives me sufficient space to open the binding fabric and align the two ends so that the meet at right angles, allowing me to stitch them together from corner to corner creating another bias join. I make sure that the finished length matches closely to the quilt to which it will be joined. Then I refold the binding and complete the stitching.
I like to use quilt clips to hold the binding in place for hand stitching as they do not get caught in my clothing or on the furniture while I hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. I use a very small blind stitch (catch the quilt fabric and slip the needle inside the binding for about 1/4 inch). I work with the corners to make sure that there is a good miter fold on both back and front and as I stitch the binding I place a few stitches in the corner to secure the miter on the back.
Hope someone finds this useful! It is at least a reminder to me when I haven’t done a binding for a while!