Monday, March 9, 2015

Binding Quilts Completely By Machine: A Tutorial

When I make quilts for my home or for special occasions, I like to finish the binding by hand.  But when I made quilts for children or for charities or that I expect to get hard use, I bind the quilts totally by machine.
Here's how I do it:
I trim up the edges of the quilt, cutting off extra backing and batting.  (Just like always.)
I turn the quilt over to the BACK.  On this quilt, the little doggies are on the back of the green I Spy quilt.
I cut the binding strips 2 in. wide by the width of the fabric.  For this quilt, I needed 5 strips.
I sew the strips into one long strip, using diagonal seams, like this.

So far, this is an ordinary way to get ready to bind a quilt.  Stay with me here, it's about to get different.

There are two unusual things going on here.  First, I'm sewing the binding to the BACK of the quilt first.  Second, (and this can be hard to wrap your head around), I'm NOT doubling the binding.  I'm NOT folding the binding at all.  I'm just sewing one raw edge of the binding to the edge of the quilt.
You can also see a corner here.  I'm sewing them the standard way--stitch to within 1/4 in. of the edge, back stitch, take the quilt out of the machine, reposition the quilt and binding, and start sewing again 1/4 in. from the corner.

Do you know this trick for joining the binding?  When I get back near where I started, I stop sewing at least 12 in. from the beginning.  I take one end of the binding, and cut it off straight, in about the middle of the unsewn section, as above.
Then I take the other end of the binding and overlap it.  I cut the second end to overlap the first by the cut width of the binding.  In this example, I cut the second end of the binding 2 in. from the overlap, because the binding is cut 2 in. wide.
Here's what that looks like.  Now I put these strips right sides together, and sew on the diagonal.  When finished, it will fit the quilt perfectly.
It looks like this, before it's trimmed.  Then I finish the seam, and the binding is sewn to the back of the quilt.
Now I go to the ironing board, and lay the quilt on it right side up. (The colors in the background are my ironing board cover.)  Remember, our binding is just a single piece of fabric.  I bring the binding to the front, folding it once against the edge of the quilt, and once more to cover the raw edges.  I press as I do each of these folds, usually one side of the quilt at a time.
When I've got it good and pressed, I pin it every six inches or so.
I fiddle with the corners until I have a folded miter.  (I tried to take a picture of this, but it didn't turn out.)  I make sure to press it well, and secure it with pins.
Now all that's left to do is topstitch the binding.  I use my presser foot as a guide, and sew along the edge.
When I get to the corners, I just pivot and keep sewing.  All the corners are mitered, on the front and on the back.
Doing the binding this way helps me finish more quilts.  Plus it's nice and sturdy.
These are the corners of the kitty cat quilt.

And these corners are on the charity quilt I finished early last week.
So, 3 done last week, one for our guild's charity stack and two for Quilts for Kids.

The snow is starting to melt here, but I'm not sure I believe in spring yet.  I'm going to enjoy it anyway.
Enjoy your week!

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