I may be a little bit biased...(just another striped binding and some thoughts on that)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sorry, I've been gone for a little while.  Just trying to get caught up on life.  Getting my Christmas decorations up, my house put back together, doing mounds of laundry, making a few small gifts.  You know.  That kind of stuff. 

Well, I finally sat down last night to get the binding put on my Bloom wall hanging and then took a few minutes this morning to start hand sewing it to the back.  I know that there are lots of good tutorials out there on bindings, so I'm not going to do one at this time, but I did have a couple of thoughts on how to do a nice binding that I wanted to share. 

When I first started quilting about 11 years ago, my grandma taught me how to quilt.  She also taught me how to do bindings the correct way and it was an invaluable lesson!  Mitered corners, connecting the ends, doing one on the bias - the whole bit.  She also taught me to cut my strips at 3".  Nowadays, I've seen binding strips cut at lots of different widths.  I've been doing them at 2 1/2" for a while now, but on this project I decided to go back to my roots and try it again at 3".  You see, the goal on a binding is to make it so there is no empty space when you rub your fingers together on the finished binding. Like this:

You want it to be tight in there (if that makes any sense?!?)

So when I was cutting my strips at 2 1/2", my 1/4" seam allowance (when sewing it onto my quilt) wasn't quite making up for the difference.  I couldn't ever get it quite right.  So I tried it again at 3" and everything is working out beautifully.  Now of course some people like bigger bindings so this might not be the technique for you.  (By-the-way, I think big bindings are cute, I have just never figured out how to do them.)  But the trick for doing it this way and getting the binding void of any empty space, is:

 cut 3" strips,
sew the strips together end to end to make one long piece of binding,
iron it in half lengthwise,
sew it onto your quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance
and then when you sew it onto the back side of your quilt
you need to fold it half next to the raw edge of your quilt and then fold it over one more time over your stitched line. 

Like sew:

and like sew:

Just a couple more thoughts, that I learned after entering some quilts into a quilt show a few years back - the judges marked me down a little for not using the correct color thread when sewing my bindings on.  They informed me that it is suppose to match the color of the binding fabric.  Didn't know that.  I didn't really think anyone could see the thread that much and so I didn't think it mattered.  But, apparently it does.  So, if you are a perfectionist, make sure the thread you use to hand sew your binding on to the back of your quilt matches the color of your binding, not necessarily the color of your backing.

And, one of the other things I got marked down on during that quilt show was not pulling my binding over far enough past my stitched line.  I had been doing my stitches right on the line (from sewing the binding onto the front.)  I needed to pull the binding over just a touch more so that that line was completely hidden.  It's basically just a couple threads past that line.

**I have to use a thimble when stitching on my bindings, but I know it doesn't work for everyone.  I couldn't do a stitch without it though or I would break skin!**

Anyways, those are just a couple of my tips for getting a great looking binding.  Of course you need to know how to do mitered corners too, so if you don't know how to do that yet, then let me know.  I'll get some pictures up about that too, if you need them. 

P.S.  I know that I am a little old fashioned (me and my 31-year-old-self).  A lot of my ways, I learned from my grandma (whose been quilting since she was a little girl) and I've just stuck with them because they work for me.  But if you have any tips on how to get a great binding with 2 1/2" strips or anything else I talked about then I'd love to hear your imput.

Oh and I'll show you my finished Bloom wall hanging real soon!  Bye!


  1. Great tips! I would have never thought about thread color much either as long as you couldn't see it.

    I need to work on getting my binding a couple of threads past that stitched line. Like you were previously, I'm getting it on the stitched line.

  2. Yes Mitered corner info would be lovely!!! This info was so very helpful to me thank you!

  3. Hi Amber, I've only just discovered your blog.... lovely:-)

    I'm with Grandma on this one..... I have always cut my binding at 3", but I use my walking foot to sew it to the front of the quilt, so my "seam" allowance is a little bigger, but as long as you pivot at the corner the exact measurement as the seam allowance, it all works out fine. The best hint I've been given re mitering is that when you fold back the corner, the binding should lie in a straight line with the quilt edge - works every time!
    Happy Sewing!

  4. Thanks for this. I'm just getting ready to do the binding on the patriotic quilt so this will be helpful!

  5. This is the first time I've seen this technique (with the extra fold over). I'm going to try it!

    Would love to see Grandma's technique for mitered corners as well!



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