Sunday, July 11, 2010

Attaching binding, the FNQ way

Now to start with the disclaimer, actually 2:

First, there are lots of pics here & this will probably take a little while to load.

Second, I am a self-taught quilter, I know the ways that work for me & my disclaimer is that if you think I’m nuts, I can appreciate your thinking & am always open to your hints on how I can make my quilting better or easier.  That said, this tutorial is to show how I attach my binding to the quilt, it may not be the “right” way or the best way, but it’s my way, and I am comfy cozy with it :)

I use 2.5” straight cut (selvage to selvage) strips for my binding.  I mitre the pieces together to make one long strip.

First, the math.  Come on, it’s not hard math!

To calculate the number of strips to sew into your nice long strip, multiply the width of your quilt (for me it was 90) times 2 (180) and the length of your quilt (102) times 2 (204).  Add these 2 together (180+204=384).  Divide this by the length of the strip.  I use 40 for selvage to selvage (cut off the selvage edges).  384/40=9.6 strips.  You will want 10-12 extra inches to attach your ends, so for me 10 strips will do just great. 

For yardage requirement, multiply the width of the strip (2.5) times the number of strips (10), 25”.  We’d call this 3/4 a yard just for fun.

Now the sewing!

Lay one end of the first strip right side up and at a right angle, right sides together, lay beginning end of the second strip as shown.  Mark the center diagonal line.


Sew on the drawn line.  When you open the strip after sewing, you have a mitred seam.


Trim off the corner pieces 1/4” away from your seam.


I press my seams open:


Repeat that process attaching end of strip 2 to beginning of strip 3 & so on & so on.

Once the strip is pieced, press the strip in half down the long side so that you have one long strip 1.25” wide, doubled over.


I sew my binding on the width of my foot, which is about 3/8”.

I like to be as exact as I can at the corners & for me wielding a ruler in the tight space is cumbersome.  so, I line the edge of a piece of scrap paper up to the edge of the foot of the machine & lower the needle to make a needle punch in the paper.  I will use this later at the corners, but need to make my punch before I start sewing the binding to the quilt.


Leaving a 6-8” tail, align the raw edge of the binding strip to the raw edge of the quilt, on the quilt top side.  Using the edge as my guide, I start the seam & I do make a few backstitches.


Sew almost to the corner, then grab that piece of paper.  Line up the bottom edge of the paper (where you earlier lined up the foot of the machine when you made your punch) with the bottom edge of the quilt.  I get it really close to the needle position so that I can eyeball a parallel line from my punch mark to the needle.  When they line up, I take a couple backstitches, then forward stitch to the earlier stopping point I lined up.  I raise the presser foot & twist the quilt 45 degrees.  I run my stitch off to the corner of the quilt & cut the threads.


I hope that if you blow up this pic you can see those trailing stitches.


Now the turn.  This also has to be as accurate as possible to have a nice turn to your mitred corner.

Turn the binding so that a straight line is formed (following the raw edge of the binding & the raw edge of the next side of the quilt to be bound) as shown


Place a finger at the top (just stitched) edge of the corner of the quilt & fold the strip down.  This will make a folded flap.  Here’s the important part: Make sure your fold at the top (sewn) edge is exactly on the edge.  A little extra is not good & a little short is not good (I should say have never been good for me).  Also make sure the raw edge of the binding & the raw edge of the quilt you are about to sew are exactly lined up.  If these 2 things are spot-on, you have a 45 degree fold (mitred corner).


Back at the machine, start sewing about 1/2” from the top edge & backstitch all the way to the edge, then forward on to the next corner.  By going backwards first, it gives me more control.

So, go sew all the way around the quilt & come back.  STOP about 12-15” from where you started.   I’ll wait here.

*hums theme to Jeopardy* *second chorus*

Ok, YAY!  now the fun begins! 

You have these 2 long tails & want them to meet in the middle seamlessly. 


Well, seamlessly is not really possible is it?  We are sewing, um, seams!  Go grab a ruler that has good 1/4” marks and meet me back at the quilt.

Pin, or lay the right tail just as it will be sewn.  Make sure that there are not any folds, gathers, etc.  You want this to be just as flat as if it were sewn in place.  Lay your ruler right on the ending edge.


Fold the left tail so that it's fold is on the 2.75” mark.  You will need to change this measurement if you use a different width binding.  Add 1/4” to the width of the strip you cut.  (For me 2.5 +.25)


Keep it accurate & cut the left tail in the fold you made.


Now you have 2 strips that should seam together nicely.  For me, this is where my challenge arises.  The dreaded twist.


Ok, look at the 2 pins.  The purple pin on the right tail wants to marry the lavender pin on the left tail.  they want to live happily every after in untwisted binding bliss.  Or, in other words, when this is all stitched up, these 2 points are GOING to end up sewn together.  Purple & lavender shall become one.

DSCN3654 DSCN3655

So let’s make our bias mark on the right tail just like when we sewed together our long strip.


Now here is the tricky part (ok, for me it is).  If I simply unfold the seam of left tail, placing it face up to sew your mitred corner, I always end up with a twist in my sewn strip, have to pull it out & sew it again.  So here’s the trick I use. 

To avoid the twist I have to make a twist.  If there is not a twist in my left tail, I know it’s wrong.  (Had to grab a scrap for better pics here)When the left tail is folded,


don’t just kick the underside up & lay it flat


Pull the underside corner (above it would be the one with the green) under & then over the top of the front corner, making the twist.  This is really easy to show live & hard to explain in pics, so grab a scrap, write on each corner & practice.


So to make sure I have the right strips going in the right way and will end up in untwisted bliss, I line up the tails, left on the bottom face up & right on top face down.  Then I pin the seam line with fine pins.

DSCN3660 DSCN3661 DSCN3663

and then turn it over as if it were sewn to make sure all is right in my world.  Then after a hearty self-congratulation, I sew on the seam line, trim off the triangles, and press the seam open,  just like when we made the long strip at the beginning.  I also repress the fold line.

Back at the machine, I start about 1/2 inch up from where I earlier had stopped & stitch through to about 1/2 an inch further than where I had started.



So now it’s on there & the turning by hand begins.  That story, boys & girls, is for another day!


sewmeow said...

Nice tutorial, and I do my end joining of the binding a little different, but it turns out the same. Great pics for this.

quiltsbylee said...

And that is why I love raggies, no binging unless you just want to. But an excellent tutorial. I will keep it for reference next time I do a traditional quilt which is not often.

Marilyn W said...

Very nice tutorial. Only thing I do differently...when I'm drawing that diagonal line for stripping the pieces together...try laying them all out face down on your table side by side. Take your square ruler (any will work as long as it's bigger than 2 1/2"). Lay the 45 degree line on the edge and do all the marking there. I find this is easier then laying the pieces together, then marking.

Try this and you'll be ready to sew when you get the strips to the machine.

harleywife57 said...

OH ! I LOVE your fabrics in this tutorial ; and I wish I would have found this several months ago ; but I found help !! (that's me , a day late and a dollar short ; but that's all okay !!)

Anonymous said...

Good explanation, but... I'm still scared. Have to try on a simple, simple simple table runner I made before moving on to others... ugh. Thanks for TRYING to help me!