A Note on Binding My Quilts

I bind my quilts using 2 1/4″ strips cut from the width of fabric to provide a bit of give as I attach the binding (given the large lap quilt size of my quilts I need six strips). I join the strips using a mitre – the reason is the angled seams don’t attract the eye and often they are nearly invisible.

Sometimes I press the long strip in half lengthwise, but lots of times I don’t bother. I attach the binding first to the back of the quilt starting 10 inches or so from one end (to allow me to create a mitre join when I get all the way around) – no pinning, just stitching in short sections, aligning the binding against the quilt edge (with a hint of stretch), and stitching a smidgeon more than 1/2″ from the edge. When I get near to the join I stop sewing, lay the quilt flat on the cutting table, cut one end of the binding then overlap the second end, measure 2 1/4″ from the end of the first binding edge, and cut. Now I create a mitre to join the two overlapping ends of the binding – I make sure the binding is the tiniest bit short (1/8″ – 3/16″) so I can stretch the joined binding to fit the quilt (that way I don’t get a bubble in the binding). (I haven’t said anything about creating mitred corners – click here to get more or less an idea for how  I do it.)

Now I turn to the front of the quilt, fold over the binding, turn it under and pin so the turned under edge just meets my stitching from the back. I have used a number of decorative machine stitches to attach the binding on the front. Here’s the one I use most often:

Binding From The Front

It’s a modification of one of my machine stitches – I am careful to keep the straight stitches along the edge, the stitching to the right and back overlaps the binding and holds it securely.

Binding On The Back

And because I’ve been careful to make my fold align with the stitching, the stitching is pretty much aligned on the back of the quilt (although my stitch tension isn’t always perfect – I don’t worry about that, it is the back of the quilt, after all.)

I’ve done this so many times that it doesn’t take long to bind a quilt.

Japanese Strip Quilt – Finished

Here it is – the finished, bound quilt (just a label needed – I’ll do that later this afternoon when I get back from some errands).

Quilt Top

I did the quilting from top to bottom in line with the strips, instead of across the quilt. I wanted to emphasize the flow of the piecing. I was lucky my quilting design was the perfect size for the side borders and fills that space nicely (It was pure luck that I was able to balance the border quilting on each side!). It took a lot of precise positioning to make the embroidery joins work but it would take a hawk eye to detect the slight misalignments I decided to live with. I used a variegated white/grey/black thread, top and bottom and I like how it turned out on the back. On the front, the stitching blended well with the coloured strips. However, I darkened the light stitching in the dark strip ends because otherwise the alternating strip ends were obscured and that was a detail I worked hard to achieve.

Quilt Back

The back has worked out well. The pieced insert brings colour and interest to the back. The side borders of the strip blend well with the backing fabric yet effectively set off the insertion. I used strips of the backing fabric (which I had found in a second shop after I’d pinned the sandwich together) for binding. I’ve finally learned 2 1/4″ binding strips are better than 2 1/2″ – I have less fabric to fold under on the front of the quilt – easier to manage when I’m pinning the binding in place on the quilt front after first stitching it to the back.

I would have liked the quilt to be a wee bit longer but I was limited by my original 66″ length of backing fabric – all that was left on the bolt. The quilt is still a respectable 62″ long.