Today we’re going to talk about sewing your binding onto your quilt. Doing that final bit of hand binding on the second side only works properly if you’ve properly done your machine binding of the first side. The binding is the last little bit on the piece of art we’ve created.
This article and the “In A Bind” video will be especially helpful for beginner quilters but we’ve included some special Cobwebs tips that we hope even experienced quilters will benefit from!
When you make your quilt it’s a good idea to make your binding at the same time because very often you think you’ve finished with all your fabric and then if you’re me, you cut it all up and put it away. Then it’s really hard to make binding after the quilting is done. So make your binding first, tuck it away in those lovely little baggies, and write on the baggie which quilt it’s for.
When I’m making my quilt binding, I cut it 2-1/2” wide. Some people prefer 2-1/4” binding but I find the leftover 2-1/2” strips are more easily used in another project since that is a standard strip measurement. Also, the purpose is to cover the edge of your quilt but also to go far enough over onto the other side to cover the seam that we’re going to create when we sew the binding onto the quilt. When the binding is 2-1/2” wide, you have plenty of coverage.
One of the things I find difficult when I’m sewing on the binding is the massive amounts of fabric. You may find moving your sewing machine to a dining room table or something where you can support the large amount of fabric weight and bulk.
I set my sewing machine needle at the quarter of an inch mark and I make sure I’ve put the walking foot on my machine. It’s very important that you use a walking foot (preferably one with an open toe) because you are now sewing through five layers of fabric and batting. Without the walking foot, you’re not going to get an even feed through your machine.
As you line up your binding along the edge of the quilt and start sewing, you want to remember is to leave yourself a significant loose tail of binding. I like to leave myself a good foot of a tail.
I’m just sewing ¼” from the edge of the quilt and you’re going to want to sew small amounts at a time. I don’t pin, if you want to pin, go for it but I find that pinning this many layers of fabric distorts it.
Starting at minute 5 of the video, you’ll SEE the next 6 steps but here’s the description of what I’m doing:
When I get several inches away from the end of a side, I’m going to drop my needle then make my work lie really nice and flat. I’m then going to use my chalk pencil to mark a line ¼” from the edge of the quilt. I have a couple of options: the Dritz Measuring Gauge or That Purple Thang, both available at Cobwebs. And so handy to keep the tools close to the sewing machine AND organized in the Stash ‘n Store. Use the Gauge or the end of That Purple Thang to mark ¼” from the edge of the quilt. You can see this in detail by fast forwarding the video to minute 5.
I’m going to sew to that line and that’s when the open toe walking foot is the best, so you can see to where you are sewing. Once I reach the chalk line, making sure my needle is down, I’m going to turn the quilt so that I’m aiming for the corner point. Then I sew right to the corner point and off the quilt then snip the threads.
I now remove the quilt from under the quilting foot and turn it to the next side of the quilt. I’m going to turn the binding back on itself and then I’m going to flip it forward in the direction I want to go next, to create that beautiful mitered corner.
I’ve continued sewing each side and mitering each corner in the same fashion until I’m back to the last side. I will sew partway along this side but leaving a fair bit of the binding loose, about 12”, and a space on the quilt between the two loose pieces of binding, of about 12” to 18” too.
I’m going to show you a different way to measure where to cut your binding, thanks to a friend of mine Sharon. Don’t resist…resistance is futile! And you could miss something epic if you go! From the long tail at the end of my binding, I’m going to cut off a piece roughly 3” or so long. I’m going to unfold it and lay it down crosswise on the binding. This is two and a half inches unfolded so no ruler is needed! (I’ll be honest, it’s really hard to describe in words what I’m doing so click on the video and fast forward to minute 9.20 and check out this tip!)
Another trick I have learned is doing a couple of things with my pins is to run the pin through a couple of times when you’re joining the two sides of the binding as a mitred angle. This keeps the fabric from shifting. Then take your ruler and draw a line from point to point where you’re going to sew.
Reset your machine to sew on the line (not a ¼” as we’ve been doing), sew, and unpin. Check that the mitre is going in the correct direction and that you haven’t twisted it.
If you have your “quick pressing” workstation set up beside you with a wool pressing mat and a Go iron, you can do a quick press of the mitred seam. Press without pulling because you’re dealing with fabric on the bias at this point.
Reset your sewing machine for a ¼” seam. Sew the final strip of joined binding into place.
I’m going to head over to my big ironing board. I always start in a corner of the quilt and I lay my hot iron gently just gently, again not pushing too much. And then holding the binding down, I give it a nice press as I go along.
Then I start putting binding clips along the edge, doing a nice long stretch.
Now you’re ready to hand sew the binding in place. Be sure to have some really good task lighting and a comfy pair of jammies for the next part: head on over to our video “Hand Sewing Your Binding”.
HANDY NOTIONS WHEN YOU’RE “IN A BIND”:
Click below to check each out and to order:
That Purple Thang
Stash ‘n Store
Mini Stash ‘n Store
Wool Pressing Mat
Binding and Hem Clips