The half square triangle quilt I blogged about in my last post is almost finished. As well as chasing the dog through drifts of fallen leaves and drinking more coffee than I really should, I’ve spent the morning making the binding that will see this particular quilt finished in about, oh, I don’t know, a few hours.
Binding is my favourite part of the whole quilt making process. This brazen confession caused some controversy on Instagram a few days ago. A few of my followers weren’t convinced. In fact, they likened the process to nothing more than a signal that they were almost done. I’ll admit that when I first embarked on my quilting journey I wasn’t too enamoured with this step and some of my earliest attempts are destined to never see the bright lights of the blogsphere! I’m happy to say I’ve improved and whilst binding a quilt is a something we all do, the processes by which we do it differ greatly. Here are some binding tidbits I’ve learnt along the way.
Binding is not big, but it is bold
I think the biding strips I cut for the first quilt I made were 4″wide! Enormous things. I now prefer a thinner binding, cutting my strips at 2.25″. Though in essence binding is something to finish the edges of a quilt it doesn’t mean it can’t make a statement. I’m drawn to strong, graphic prints for my binding, particularly monochromatic colourways. Be daring with your fabric choices, as you would be when making the quilt top. The binding is the last chance for a splash of colour or a snippet of a favourite print.
Do unto binding as you do to your blocks
Going back to that first quilt I ever bound, using the 4″ strips, I was so eager to finish that I didn’t even press the seams, just folded the thing in half and stitched it down. I’m now meticulous in my pressing, opening the seams to reduce bulk, much like I’d do on quilt blocks. The binding’s happy, and so are my fingers when I don’t have to wrestle a needle through a mass of fabric when hand stitching!
Make it your own monster
Like Frankenstein and his monster, don’t be afraid to use different
body parts fabrics in your binding. Sometimes a quilt needs a single, solid binding, other times it doesn’t. Scrappy can work, as can small snippets of colour, as I’ve done in my last few quilts. There’s no rule that says it has to all be the same.
As basic as binding is, it looks really nice all rolled up and lit like a diva.
Less is not more
Believe me when I say it’s better to add and extra 8-10″ to your require binding length. This is something I usually do, though today an extra 1.5″ was closer to it. I’m not sure how I managed such a major miscalculation but am grateful to the quilting gods for their understanding. Phewww!
Press and pin and press
Once I’ve got my binding pressed, I like to pin it to the entire quilt before I begin stitching it down. I start on one side, leaving a tail of about 4-5″, then pin at regular intervals, mitering the corners until I’m back where I stared. Then it’s over to the machine to stitch the ends together before finishing with a few more pins. I like this method as it enables me to stitch quicker, without having to stop to line the binding up to the raw quilt edge. A quick press to the side gives me a nice crisp seam ready for hand stitching down.
Not just for hair
Though they look like something a 6-year-old girl might have, these clips are invaluable for holding the binding down as I sew. There are many different types available, though these ones make a nice sound when you tip them onto the table. Just as I pin the binding to the entire quilt, I similarly use these all the way around before I begin to sew, keeping the pot to hand for when they’ve served their purpose.
Stitch in good company
Finally, as enjoyable as I find the final stage of hand stitching, the inches go quicker if you’re being festively crooned.
I’d love to hear any binding bits you might have!