Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binding Matters

When it comes to binding a quilt here's the simplest way:

You will be sewing binding on the quilt, sides first and then on the top and bottom. Measure the sides and cut enough 2 1/2" strips on the crossways grain (side to side) of the fabric so that when you seam them together you will have a strip long enough to bind a side. Fabric is usually about 44" wide, but you should cut off the selvage since it typically is woven more densely than the rest of the fabric. Remember to account for 1/4" seams for joining the strips, if needed, so that you get the right length. Fold the strip in half length-wise, right sides together and press. You have a choice at this point...you can pin the strip (matching raw edges of binding with the raw edges of the sandwiched quilt) to the front side or the back side of the quilt. If you pin it to the back, you will machine sew it and then flip the rest (the folded edge) to the front and stitch it down. If you pin it to the front, you'll stitch down on the back side. This makes a difference depending on the effect you want. I usually stitch to front and then hand stitch to the back so no stitching shows. If I am making the quilt for a child, though, I will consider stitching to the back and machine stitching the folded edge to the front. So, the bottom line is....to sew the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt with the machine and then hand or machine stitch the folded edge for the sides, doing this first for the sides and then the top and bottom. If you have longer binding than is needed it's OK to cut it off at the edge of the quilt. You won't have to worry about the raw edges of the binding showing at the top and bottom of the quilt as they will be covered over by the top and bottom bindings. Wow! This gets complicated when I can't show you! Now you do almost the same thing for the top and bottom of the quilt except you plan for a little extra binding (maybe 1/2") on either end. After pinning and doing the first stitching, fold that extra over toward the quilt before flipping the folded edge of the binding over to secure with stitching. This encases the raw quilt edge in the binding neatly.

Some binding ideas for you to play with...

It's not a catastrophe to not have enough of one fabric for the binding. I have run into that on a couple of occasions and used a little ingenuity to work an alternative into the design.
The first is a quilt that I made for Grandmom and Grandpop for their 60th anniversary and is shown above. It is a signature quilt; I used the "signature block" area to write quotes about love and marriage. I also added a wedding photo (which I had printed on fabric) into the overall design. When I went to bind it, I was just a leeeetle short on the tan fabric. Since I had already planned the borders the way they are shown, I added the royal blue in the binding at the appropriate spot to highlight the design. It worked! And I suspect that if I hadn't mentioned anything, you would be none the wiser! :)
Another way to compensate for lack of enough binding fabric is to make a binding using multiple fabrics. I did this on a baby quilt that used five different colored fabrics for the background of the appliqued blocks. Since I had purchased the fabrics on a trip to Dallas, there wasn't a chance of me going back to the store to check for more, so I cut strips about 6 x 2 1/2". I sewed them together along the short edges, alternating colors, and made a long strip to use as the binding. It incorporated all the colors of the blocks and worked perfectly for a baby quilt!
I'll talk more about binding in another post, but it seems like this is enough for now!

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