Friday, June 18, 2010

Quilting How-To: Binding, Part 2

Yesterday I detailed the steps you need to follow to attach a binding to your quilt. Today I'll finish the lesson on binding by showing you how to tack down and finish the binding edge.

This step is best done by hand, using a blind stitch. Choose a thread color closest to the color of your binding fabric and put a single strand through a needle, knotting one end. I always start sewing the binding on the front side of the quilt, right where the two ends of the binding are joined together. I insert the needle so it comes out at the base of the binding, then blind stitch the layers together until I get to the edge. This finishes the joining on the front and gets the thread to the edge, ready to fold over to the back. In the photo to the right, you can just make out the join in the center of the photo, where there's a faint loop of thread just above the very visible extra loop (which is probably a frayed edge). If you click on the photo, you can blow it up for a better view.

The next step is to fold the edge over to the back and start tacking the edge of the binding to the back, using a blind stitch. To keep the binding from slipping, I pin down at least six inches ahead of where I'm working. Then I'm ready for the blind stitch. I start with the thread coming out of the edge of the binding; I insert the needle into the quilt backing at the same spot, or a little bit underneath, and then angle the needle up until it comes out of the binding edge a little less than ¼-inch away. (I probably space about 5 or 6 stitches per every inch.) You can see in the photo how I angle the needle, so I end up with something similar to a whip stitch. You have to be careful, however, not to let the needle slip through to the front layer of the quilt, or you'll end up with some not-so-beautiful stitches showing through.

Corners are no major problem: you fold over the side you're working on, pin it, then fold over the second side. You'll have an angle you need to finish off, but you just blind stitch to the outside corner, then insert the needle in that same corner and maneuver it between the layers until it emerges on the inner corner, ready to start the blind stitch on the next side. You can see how it looks when it's finished: in this photo, the solid red corner is the front side of the quilt, and there are no bubbles or big folds in the corner. The red binding on the purple is how it looks on the back; there's a tiny overlap in the corner that you can't really see because I've tacked it down so solidly.

So there you go! A few relatively easy steps, and you get a nice and neat finished edge for your quilt. Putting the binding on is always one of my favorite parts of making a quilt: partly because I know I'm almost finished, but partly because I'm finally eliminating all the rough edges and seeing if the result matches what I envisioned.

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