I’ve been stitching a lot of binding lately. It’s always a good thing because it means I’m almost done with a quilt. Almost, I said. I still have to do sleeves and labels, but technically, once a quilt is bound, it’s done.
I got thinking about how I do bindings, and how others do them, and I found this great tutorial at Sew4Home. It covers just about everything you need to do to get a nice, firm, straight binding.
There are a gazillion ways to bind a quilt. You will find your favorite way and do that most of the time, no doubt. There are scalloped edges (which require a bias binding), knife-edges, prairie points, facings, and envelope-style finishes. A lot of people do their binding completely by machine, and I’ve done that some too, but I am never really happy with how it looks.
The first way most everybody learns to finish a quilt is by sewing on a straight-grain, double-fold binding, added to the top by machine and turned to the back to be finished by hand.
I typically cut my bindings 2″ wide, which gives a finished width of about 3/8″. You may make them wider, everybody has their own preference. Sometimes I cut them on the bias and sometimes not, depending on the quilt, but they are always double-fold. Why? After years of looking at quilts of all ages, it’s apparent to me that two layers of fabric last longer than one. Make sense? And two layers of fabric cut on the bias last longer still. With a bias binding, there are not only have two layers of fabric, but the fibers do not lie parallel and perpendicular to the edge. They are, instead, at an angle. Typically wear on an edge would run parallel. Does that mean I always make bias bindings? That would be a big, “No.”
The hardest part of binding, at least for me, used to be getting neat corners. But then I saw this video by Patrick Lose that made short work of that. It’s very clever and makes nice, sharp, square corners. (If you prefer to read his instructions, you can find those here. There is also a great video by Mary and Marianne Fons at QNN.tv that can be helpful. Go take a look!
I think most people whip-stitch their bindings down, too. I do that quite often, but I like the way a ladder or invisible stitch looks better (see more at Fabric Bias). This takes me forever, though, and I am already pretty slow with handwork, so you can see why I don’t always do it. Sometimes a quilt just has to get done now.
There are lots of ways to hold the loose edge of the binding down too. Some people pin. I’m seeing these Wonder Clips everywhere, and I’ll admit that they’re cute. But I don’t really need them. I have had a basket full of cheap hair clips for ever. I bought them at the dollar store years ago, but I’m sure you can find them lots of places.
While it’s hard for me to still long enough to get a binding sewn on, I really enjoy the handwork. That’s the point when I feel the quilt really becomes my own work.
How about you? Do you like bindings?