with Linda Hungerford
Linda is an avid quiltmaker living in West Des Moines, Iowa, USA. She is a freelance writer for several quilting magazines, and teaches free beginner quiltmaking lessons through her ministry, Stitchin' Mission®. Linda wrote "First Time Quiltmaking" (published by Landauer Corporation) based on Stitchin' Mission lessons. For more information visit: www.StitchinMission.org
When it comes to sewing binding to a quilt, I won’t say I’m an expert, but if quantity counts toward experience, I have it - abundantly! After some rough calculations, I figure that if I were to put the bindings I’ve sewn end to end, they would span the length of at least three rugby fields!
I teach beginner quiltmaking. When it’s time to explain binding, I focus on the reason it’s sewn to a quilt (to encase the quilt sandwich layers with a durable edge), and then how to make binding that is strip-cut, diagonally joined, and attached as a separate piece.
The method I demonstrate is one that most often appears in quilting books and magazines. Every quilter has at least tried it, and some use it regularly. It’s where a quilter begins sewing binding to a quilt at the middle of a quilt side, and does the flip-flop mitered fold at each corner. This seems straightforward, but it also creates challenges:
#1 - How does a quilter begin and end the binding in the middle of a side, and make the joining look good?
#2 - How can you sew binding continuously around the perimeter of a quilt without puckering, perhaps looking as though you sewed a drawstring around it?
#3 - What do you do about corners that aren’t folded properly? Those that sort of swoop around the corner?
Here’s an example of a poorly mitered corner. Insufficient fabric was allowed at the fold.
In class, I demonstrate how to make a “tent” fold at the binding start.
Then, at the binding end the blunt tail “sleeps” in the tent.
Though the result is a nice, faked diagonal seam, without a doubt the finished joining is bulky, and requires extra hand sewing.
After a quilter learns the basics, I then wonder why a different binding method isn’t tried. There is a better way, and it’s one I use most often.
Continuous Binding with Machine-Sewn Mitered Corners
Perhaps you haven’t heard of this method... attaching binding to a quilt and then machine sewing miters at each corner. To understand the steps, it’s simply:
1. Measure binding.
2. Cut binding.
3. Sew binding.
4. Sew miters.
This is what the sewn mitered corner looks like.
Binding attached this way has two distinct advantages:
1. Bindings are the same length as each side of the quilt, helping to square the quilt and,
2. machine-sewn mitered corners eliminate the need to hand-sew mitered folds.
Let me preface my binding tutorial by stating that I always begin by first marking a straight line around the perimeter of the quilt. Some quilters cut a straight edge around the quilt, and then sew binding to it. I prefer to sew with the backing and batting still attached, following a marked line and smoothing the quilt edges outward as I go. As a last step, trimming off the batting and backing ensures that plenty of filler remains for making a nice “stuffed” binding.
I hope you’ll give this a try the next time you’re ready to bind a quilt. Visit my blog for a photo tutorial to make Continuous Binding with Machine-Sewn Mitered Corners. Let me know how it goes!