Binding – a Definition
My quilts (and most traditional style quilts) have 3 layers:
- the top: the layer of fabric which has the design, which I create by sewing pieces of fabric together.
- the batting: the hidden middle bit that provides body and thickness to the quilt.
- the back: which is a layer of fabric on the back to complete the “sandwich”.
After I finish quilting (ie adding stitching to the top of the quilt that goes through all 3 layers to hold it together and to add texture), the edge of the quilt is a little rough, as you can see in the photo above.
The white part along the edge is the batting. It’s not very attractive hanging out over the raw edge of the top.
Binding a quilt is the process of finishing off the edges of the quilt so it is neat and tidy.
Traditionally a small strip of fabric is visible from the front of the quilt, which provides a very narrow framing of the artwork (note the upper and right edges):
I prefer to not have the binding show on the front of my quilt, so it looks like this instead (note the upper and right edges):
Technically (as in using correct sewing terms), I believe what I am doing is more like putting a facing on the quilt edge, which well could be. I still call it binding as the process is basically the same thing to me.
Binding – a How To
What follows is a pictorial guide to how I bind my quilts.
This is Structures #42 right after I completed the quilting:
First step is to flatten out the quilt. I do this on the carpeted floor with a very hot steam iron. I let it sit for a while to cool and dry.
Next step is to cut the strips of fabric that will be used to along the edge to finish things off. I need 4 binding strips, one for each edge of the quilt.
I cut my bindings 2″ wide. If necessary I will sew multiple strips together to make them long enough for the entire edge of the quilt. If I do this I press the seams open.
After cutting the strips, they are pressed in half lengthwise, so they are double thickness.
I then sew the fabric strips to 2 parallel edges of the quilt (in these photos I show putting on the 2 sides first and then the top and bottom. Now I do the top and bottom first and the sides last).
I sew these on with a scant (very very scant) 1/4″ seam allowance. I line the raw edges of the binding up with the raw edges of the quilt. Note that I have NOT trimmed the extra binding from the quilt before sewing.
I then press, with a hot steam iron, the binding strip over the top of the raw edges to flatten it out. This is the same as just pressing a seam open – nothing fancy.
Then folding the binding strip out of the way, I cut the extra batting and backing fabric off. I use a rotary cutter, if taking a rotary cutter near your finished quilt is a bit frightening you can also use scissors to do this.
Now I sew the last 2 binding strips to the other 2 edges of the quilt. The previous binding strips are folded outwards (not doubled over the quilt top).
Press the last 2 binding strips over the raw edges.
I then cut off the excess batting on these last 2 edges.
I cut at a diagonal on the corners to minimize the amount of excess fabric that will have to be stuffed into the corner on the back. Be careful not to nip into the finished edge of the adjacent binding strip when doing this.
The sewing machine portion of binding is now over. This is what the quilt looks like at this point.
Time to turn the binding to the back of the quilt. I press the binding completely to the back of the quilt along 2 sides of the quilt (the first 2 sides that I sewed the binding onto). Note that a tiny bit of the front of the quilt can be seen from the back. A tiny tiny amount. The goal is that none of the binding be seen from the front.
These 2 edges are then sewn down by hand (so it can’t be seen from the front). I use hair clip things to hold the binding in place while sewing. You can buy these for big $ in the quilt store or you can go to the hair product aisle at your favorite store and buy them cheap. Same thing.
This is what the first edge looks like sewn down by hand.
Now time for the only tricky bit. Pressing down the last 2 edges. The edges are easy. The corner require a tiny bit of practice and patience. Fold the corner under so it can’t be seen from the front. I press the heck out of it with my iron to make it flat.
I iron/press ALOT and use ALOT of steam. And spend time here, making it neat. I think about my craftsmanship. An extra 5 minutes here getting it perfect, is time well spent.
After pressing, I sew the last edge down by hand. I double back on the corners to make sure they are secure.
Ta-da – the binding is done. This is what a corner looks like from the front.
And from the back.
This binding as a bit of heft to it, some body, that I really like. The corners are a bit bulky. I prefer this. I think it helps the quilts hang nicer. There are ways to face a quilt that are lighter weight and definitely beautiful, yet I prefer this more substantial finish.
The completed artwork:
©2006 Lisa Call
33″ x 81″
Textile Painting (Fabric hand dyed by the artist, cotton batting, cotton thread)