Thursday Tip #16

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Binding a quilt marks the final stage of its wonderful journey. Its also your first opportunity to snuggle under its bulk, as you slip stitch the back of binding in to place, so enjoy this process and relish in your quilts beauty, warmth and comfort.
Here are some of my tips for binding your quilts:
  • Prepare your quilt first. Make sure all pins or hand basting stitches have been removed. Sew around the raw edge of the quilt a scant 1/8". This keeps everything lovely and flat and ready for the binding. (Its not necessary to do this if you have free motion quilted over the raw edges.) Trim the excess wadding and backing level with the quilt top.
  • Cut your binding strips, at the required width, either across the width of the fabric or on the bias, I always cut mine across the width. Most strips are cut at 2 1/2" across the fabric width but lately I have been making mine a little smaller and it gives a neater finish. I prefer using 2 1/4" strips on large quilts and 2" strips for smaller projects, like coasters or place mats. Have a play around and see what size suits you best.
  • To join the strips, with right sides together, place one end of two strips perpendicular to each other to form a "L". Sew across the diagonal and trim away the excess. Repeat for each strip until all the strips are joined. Press the seams open.
  • With wrong sides together, fold the strip length ways and press well. Trim one end on a 45 degree angle (this will be the beginning of your binding). I usually fold it over by bringing the top corner, with the two raw edges, in to the fold and then press to mark a crease and then trim. Use a ruler for this step if you prefer.
  • If you have one, use your walking foot to sew on bindings, it helps to feed everything through your machine nice and evenly.
  • Lay the binding, on the right side of the quilt top, aligning the raw edges, in the centre of one side of the quilt. Leave a 6-8" tail at the beginning, you will make your final join here later, and pin into position. 
  • Sew the binding to the quilt top, stopping at the first corner 1/4" before the raw edge. With needle down, pivot the quilt and continue sewing into the corner (as shown in the above picture). This will give you a lovely crisp mitre. Cut the thread.
  • To start the next side, lift the binding up and then down along the quilt edge and pin the mitred corner to secure. Continue sewing in this manner around all four corners. Stop sewing about 6-8" away from where you began binding.
  • To make the final join, trim off any excess so you now have a 6-8" tail at both raw ends of the binding. Open up the end piece of the binding and slip the beginning tail inside, so the folded edge sits in the crease. Mark a line, using the 45 degree angle of the beginning tail as a guide. Cut 1/2" from this line, this allows for the two seam allowances. With right sides together and both bindings open, sew them together to complete your final join. Close and press the binding and continue sewing the binding to the quilt top.
  • Choose a thread colour that matches your binding and cut lengths of around 18". Double thread your needle. Turn the bindings to the back of the quilt and use some wonder clips or hair clips to keep your bindings in place. Slip stitch the bindings to secure. I make a couple of extra stitches in the mitred corners, to ensure that the mitre is closed securely. 
This is the way I bind my quilts. There are tutorials around for machine binding both the back and front of the binding but its something I haven't tried, as I don't think the final result is as neat. I prefer to pop on a movie, snuggle under the quilt and sew the back of the bindings down by hand. Its relaxing and it means the end of my quilts journey :)

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