Finishing a quilt is, in my opinion, the best part of making a quilt. It is so rewarding to sit down and put the finishing touches on a quilt that I worked so hard to make. I think binding is the one part of quilting that I can honestly say I have mastered so I'm excited to share with you how I do it.
1) I always start by squaring up my quilt. This is a very small quilt so I was able to use my rotary cutter but I use a yard stick and scissors if I am working on something larger.
2) I like to roll up my binding tape before I get started. It makes it much easier to get it in place.
Go here for a tutorial on how I make my binding tape.
3) I start in the middle of one side and pin every 2 inches or so. The raw edges of the binding tape should be lined up with the raw edges of the quilt.
4) When I get to a corner I fold up creating a crease with a 45 degree angle. Putting a pin in there helps.
NOTE: if you have mitered the corners on your border it will give you a very nice guide!
5) Then I fold down and keep pinning. I do the same for the other corners.
6) When I get back around to the beginning I overlap the binding about 4 to 5 inches.
7) I set up my machine to sew 1/4 inch seams and start at least 6 inches from the end of the binding tape. I like to leave plenty of room to work because I'll be coming back to join the ends later. Having plenty of room there really is key!
8) When I get to a corner I stop 1/4 inch from the edge.
Thanks to my son for the finger :)
I have gone one stitch into the fold in this picture. That's fine, 1 or 2 stitches is actually good for strength.
9) Without cutting my thread I open the fold, turn my quilt and keep sewing.
10) I keep sewing around until I have about 6 inches of binding tape left.
11) I bring my pieces together and mark where they meet.
12) One marking on the right side and the other on the wrong side of the fabric.
13) Then I open up the binding tape and lay the strips, right sides together with the marks I made at the lower right hand side. I use a ruler to draw a diagonal line.
14) Pin that together.
I think this shows a little better how the pieces should be lined up
15) I sew a seam right on the line.
16) Trim and press open.
17) Then I close my binding, pin it down and sew with a 1/4 inch seam.
This is a tool I use to hold my binding in place while I stitch. A lot of people like to use hair clips, I'm sure those work just as well.
18) I fold my binding around from the front to the back just enough so it covers the seam I just made.
19) I like to clip mine down all the way around before I start stitching.
20) From here It's a simple invisible stitch all the way around. I start in the inseam and bring my needle out a few threads away from the seam.
I really like to hand stitch my binding. I encourage other quilters to at least give it a try. I think it makes a huge difference and doesn't really take that much extra time. My thought is that I spent a lot of time and effort piecing a quilt top and then spent even more time quilting the layers together, I don't want to lessen the beauty of the quilt with a seam running down my binding.
However, if I'm binding a quilt that isn't super special to me and I am in a rush I have in the past finished my binding by machine. In that case I like to use a zig-zag stitch. I think it makes it less noticeable that sometimes the seam isn't perfectly straight.
Red Pepper Quilts also has a very nice tutorial on how she binds her quilts by machine. Definitely worth a look if you don't want to do it by hand.
21) Then insert the needle in the binding directly beside where the thread is coming out of the quilt. I like to make my stitches about 1/4 of and inch but it's not important to be exact because they won't be seen anyway.
22) Then move down and insert the needle directly beside where the thread is coming out of the binding.
23) When I get to a corner I stitch all the way into the inseam before I fold the next side down. This allows the corner to miter itself.
24) I bring my needle out in the middle of the mitered corner and stitch around the corner.
25) When my thread runs out I just make a few tight stitches one right on top of the other and hide the tails in the binding.
You might notice I stitch with my thread doubled. It's the old way of hand stitching. It's the way my mom taught me to sew and I like the added strength of having 2 threads. I learned in a sewing class I took in high school (yes, I took sewing in high school) that the new way, the "correct" way, is to thread your needle like you would for embroidery, with a single thread and a tail handing down after you thread the needle. The new way eliminates tangling. So if you find you are doing it the old way and tangling bothers you, try threading your needle the new way. The tangling doesn't bother me so I do it the old way.
The result is clean and pretty! I love quilt binding, it really brings a quilt together.