Wednesday, May 9, 2012

~ Quilt Binding Tutorial: Part One ~

For 6 years (2004 - 2010) I taught "Binding ABC's" at The Bernina Connection in Phoenix, AZ.  Of all the classes that I taught, I think it was my favorite because no one in class left without having a huge AHA moment.  As I was binding my Coral Singing quilt, I decided to take pictures as I went and publish them as a tutorial.
Make that ... 3 tutorials. There is a whole lot of tutoring going on here.

In this, the first one, I will show you how to get crisp, square, professional looking corners.
It's SO easy ... I would say "easy as pitching a tent".
Read through and look over all the instructions before getting started:

I do not, I repeat do NOT cut off the 2" edge of backing and binding that surrounds the quilt before I begin. I find that the fuzziness of it keeps everything in line and easier to navigate.

I personally cut my binding strips 2 1/8" wide, which makes a scant 1/4" binding that hugs pretty tight.  I will cut them larger (and take a bigger seam) if I want my binding to play a bigger role in the design of the quilt.

Sew the strips together using diagonal seams and make sure your completed strip is more than long enough.

(Note: My border on this quilt unfortunately contains a 1" strip in the same fabric as the binding.  Do NOT be confused by that in the picture.  Pay no attention to the border ... or to the man behind the curtain!)

Once you have sewn the strips together, cut the seams to 1/4" and pressed the binding in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, you are ready to begin.

Begin on one of the longer sides of the quilt (if there is a choice) around the middle of that side.  You are matching up the raw edge of the binding piece with the raw edge of the quilt.  Leaving a 10" - 12" lead, start sewing WITH A WALKING FOOT and don't do any backup stitches.
You will note that NO pins are involved.

The walking foot is a must, people ... sometimes expensive ... but absolutely worth it to keep from pushing your binding further along than the quilt.  I took a permanent red marker to mark the 1/4" line on my walking foot to help my eye to keep it right on the edge.

Keep an eye on the fabric as you line it up on the edge.  It's nice to have a teensy-weensy peek at the quilt top.

This is where I find it hand to have the batting keeping things in place, fyi.

About 2-3 inches from the corner, you will build your first "tent".

Pinch the strip together, as shown, keeping the binding strip aligned with the edge of the quilt on both sides.

Test your "tent" by folding it over in each direction.  Each time it should match up with the edge of the binding, as shown.  Both too big (overlapping onto the batting) or too small (showing too much binding underneath) will cause problems.  Play around with it until you get it right.   

With the tent folded towards you, continue to sew your seam until you get to 1/4" from the edge, basically where you hit the fold.  When you do, back stitch a few stitches.

At this point, remove the quilt from under the machine and clip the threads.

Now, flip the "tent" going the other way and start back down the quilt.

Note that this time you are sewing from off the edge of the corner.

Continue this process until you have gone around all four corners, using the same method.

As you round the fourth corner, you will see your old friend ... the original flap of binding that wasn't sewn down. Stop sewing (again with no back stitches because you want to be able to take some stitches out if you didn't leave enough excess) about 10" - 12" from the edge of the first flap, basically leaving you with about 20" in between.

That does it ... you are done with Part One.
Don't. Cut. Anything ... Yet.

Stay tuned for my next two posts:
Quilt Tutorial Part Two:  Join those edges for a smooth, bump-less junction and
Quilt Tutorial Part Three: Sewing the binding down on the back.

I hope this has been helpful.

Let's face it.  Every quilt looks polished with a crisp, polished binding.

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  1. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I never thought of leaving the batting and backing untrimmed until after sewing the binding on the front! I anxiously await parts 2 and 3!!

  2. No matter how many quilts I have sewn and bound I can always learn something new. Thanks for taking the time on this. I've never considered not cutting off the batting edge. Smart! And I don't use a walking foot. But Now I will try that.

  3. oh, no, you stopped right where I need the real help, joining the ends together. Can't wait to see how you do it.

  4. This is excellent! I started a quilt while I was pregnant with my daughter, spent hours on it, completed the top, then she was born and I put it away. Well, she's 13 now! I was trying to remember how my mom showed me to do the binding then saw this - perfect timing! Bookmarking and look forward to parts two and three!

  5. Oh my goodness this is awesome! You are so talented.

    We would LOVE for you to stop over and link these up in our Crafty Saturday Showcase. It is just our 2nd week. Your blog is cute and we can't wait to look around some more! I love the name of your blog!

    Thank you!
    Susie @Bowdabra

  6. Wanted to let you know I love the quilt binding tutorial part 2! I use it all the time, it's the only one that works for me! Thank you for the post!