Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pear Bound!

It has been a while since I've talked about binding, and 'binding' is one of those things that, I think, you just can't get enough of. Everyone has their own technique and tools they like. There are lots of good tutorials online, but I just thought I'd share, one more time, my take on putting the binding on a quilt. Or, in this case, a table runner.

The table runner in question is made from the pear blocks from Farm Girl Vintage by Lori Holt (aff link). It's a cute book, and I started the project a year or two ago as part of a monthly group meeting at the LQS.  I wrote about dragging it out of the UFO stack to finish it up here.

I arranged the rectangular half blocks in two rows. With a strip of white-on-white print between, and a white border around the outside. This isn't an actual pattern, I just made it up as I went.

And yes, I realize that the pears aren't all lined up up-side-down-side in an evenly alternating sequence. That was on purpose, to give the runner a more casual, fun feeling.

Once upon a time when this project was started, I was determined to use up some scraps, and pulled a bunch of green, greenish blue and yellow chunks of fabric for the top. With a few left, I patchworked leftover bits for the backing.

I had enough leftover pears for two place mats. To add interest and make the place mats rectangular, I improvised two borders for each mat using the exact same technique I used for the sashing on 99 Bottles in Scraps Plus One.

Layered and quilted. The quilting was done entirely with my walking foot.

I started with a line drawn at a random angle across the middle of the quilt with an air-erasable pen (the ink disappears after a couple days on the quilt). Then using the width of the walking foot between stitching lines, I filled in the quilting. I changed directions a couple times to create interest and texture.

Quilting done, time to bind. I trim the backing and batting even with the edge of the quilt top. Others like to trim after the binding is applied. It's a personal preference.

With the quilt flat, I secure the binding to the top of the quilt, aligning raw edges of the 2-1/4" binding, folded in half lengthwise, and secured with pins or clips at 2-3" intervls before I start sewing. I spent a lot of effort to make sure the quilt was flat through the piecing and quilting process, why ruin it now with a binding that is applied too loose or to tight risking quilt-wonkiness? (yep, that's a made-up word, but you get the idea - don't rush the end game!)

I leave myself a good 12" or so unsewn then clip (or pin) the binding in place. I use my dual feed quarter inch foot on my BERNINA to apply the binding, if you don't have a dual feed option, I'd switch back to a walking foot because of all the layers to sew through. (It's another end-game precaution).

As I approach the end of the first (and each side) I stop sewing about 1/4" from the (imaginary/estimated) quilt edge - the red dashed line in the photo - with needle submerged in the quilt, then pivot 45 degrees, and sew the last few stitches off the edge. This will keep the layers from getting puffy and out of shape with wear.

I break the thread and remove the project from the sewing machine to the work table. I fold the binding to the right, so the fold creates a 45 degree angle between the binding fold and the bottom edge of the quilt, and the binding raw edge forms a straight line to the right of the corner.

Then fold the binding back on top of itself. This is a 90 degree mitered corner. 

I start sewing right at the very top edge, at the binding fold.

Then I go through the process all over again. Clip or pin the binding in place (keeping everything flat and happy), then sew 1/4" from the raw edge with the dual feed (or walking) foot, and miter at the next corner.

Continuous Binding Closure. These next few steps are where everyone has lots of variations and preference. This is my preference.

I stop sewing to leave myself about 12" of unsewn binding on the last side. Then I make the two binding ends (the beginning and the end) meet, and I fold the binding back so the folds just *kiss*.

I measure half the binding width (in this case I started with 2-1/4" wide strips so half that width is 1-1/8") and make a mark on each side of the kissing folds. In this case I'm using my air erasable marker again, although it doesn't matter as this mark will be hidden once the binding is complete.

This step is important, otherwise the quilt will pull and drag. Pull up and temporarily accordion fold the quilt at the future location of the binding connection to give yourself plenty of slack to work on the binding. Secure the quilt folds with a clip or a sturdy pin.

Pull the binding ends away and to the right of the rest of the quilt, open the binding folds, place the strips right sides together, and align the marks with the outer edges of the binding fabric as shown below.

Then draw a line parallel to the quilt edge and diagonally on the wrong side of the top binding fabric. Secure with pins. Notice the red dashed lines in the photo below - one at the quilt edge and one where the purple pen marking is, and they're kinda parallel. The lighter mauve line is not what you want.

Then trim the binding fabric 1/4" away from the seam  . . .

 . . . and press the seam open. Then remove the clip holding the runner out of the way. The binding should be perfectly flat with the runner and it's ready to sew to the quilt edge

I'll nab a little time in front of the TV to sew the fold to the back of the quilt by hand. At the corners I'll reverse the miter bulk so they lie flat.

If you want a complete review of this process along with my take on a bunch of quilty techniques, grab a copy of Cut the Scraps!, Scraps Plus One!, The Versatile Nine Patch, or When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters.

I do love the feeling of a finished project. Once the binding is done, the only thing left is a label. How about you? Is this how you do your bindings?

Happy Stitching!



  1. cute project. I lust for your scraps :)

  2. THanks Sharyn! But be careful what you lust after - sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in all this fabric goodness! Fabric goodness is good! Too much fabric goodness makes it hard to decide what to do next!