Thursday, January 17, 2019

Finish the 'Finish'

As I mentioned last week, I've been trying to make the time to finish up a table runner inspired by the Journey to Paducah pattern on the AQS blog.

And this week, it's done. Since binding is one of those 'quilting essentials' and since we have some new quilters following along, thought I might provide the run-through my binding steps.

The first few quilt binding steps can be found here if you missed the message last week.

Once the binding is made. I start on one side of the quilt (or table runner, in this case). Top of the quilt facing up, raw edges of binding and trimmed quilt top aligned.

I secure the layers with lots of sturdy pins, about one pin every 2-3".

I start sewing (1/4" from the edge) at about the halfway point on the side of the quilt leaving about 12" of binding unsewn at the front end, so I can connect it at the back end. Assuming my corners are the standard 90 degree angles, I make a 45 degree turn about 1/4" from the end of the trimmed quilt and sew off the corner. This keeps the corners crisp over the quilt's lifetime of use and washings.

Before I start sewing again. I fold the binding to the right at a 45 degree angle, then I fold the binding on top of itself at a 90 degree angle (from the raw edge) then pin the binding to the quilt to repeat the process for the next side. At the corner, I start sewing the 1/4" binding seam right at the edge over the folds I just created.

I repeat the miter, pinning, and sewing, until I'm almost back to the beginning. I stop sewing about 12-15" away from my starting point. If I did a good job estimating how long my binding should be (last week) then I should have a long tail for the continuous binding connection.

Continuous Seam

There are lots of variations on these next few steps. This is how I create the continuous binding seam. First I place the two binding ends so they meet, and fold the binding ends back so the folds just touch, or 'kiss.'

Then I measure half of the binding strip width away from the fold and make a makr. In my case, I cut my binding strips 2-1/4" wide (in last week's article), so I measure 1-1/8" away from the fold.

I make two marks, one on each side of the fold.

Next, to create a little slack so I can maneuver things a bit easier, I accordion fold the quilt - just the space between the start and end of the binding seams  - and pin it with a sturdy pin. I then open and place the left binding end onto the work table, so I can see the mark (red arrow, top photo), and then open the right end of the binding, open the fold and re-fold, wrong sides together so the marking is directly on the fold (bottom photo) and align the markings and edges as shown (dashed lines, bottom photo). . . .

Then I open the fold, and make a diagonal mark that runs basically parallel to the quilt edge. . . secure the binding layers with pins. . .

. . .  sew on the line and trim 1/4" away from the seam.

Press the binding seam open (I usually finger press at this point). When I unpin the quilt, and align the remainder of the binding and quilt edge, everything should lay flat.

A few more pins to secure the layers, and sew!

Almost there. . .

Securing the binding by hand

For the last part, I make myself comfortable in an easy chair.

Last week I said that 'technically' the binding should be cut 2" wide. Once sewn to the front of the quilt, ideally, the binding fold, turned to the back, should just cover the binding/quilt seam (red arrow). You can see that I have more than enough of the binding folded edge to accomplish this so I really *could* have cut my binding strips narrower. The 2-1/4" width just gives me a little extra comfort level.

As you can see, the binding stitch is a lot like an applique stitch. Sink the needle into the quilt (with thread that matches the binding), travel through the quilt guts, and come up to grab the very few threads of the binding fold.. and repeat. 

I take a couple extra steps at the corner.

As I approach the corner, I park the needle, and miter/fold the binding so the bulk on the bottom is opposite the bulk on the top.

Once my stitching arrives at the corner, I take a stitch along the diagonal (yes, my needle has a severe bend in it  - how difficult would it be to grab a new needle? - why do we do this to ourselves?)

I then take a stitch through all the layers to the front and grab the binding miter fold.

Like the 45 degree turn when I'm sewing the binding to the front of the quilt, this extra step helps to ensure that the corners stay square over time and use.

Ta da!

And the pay-off! Finito!

(Of course, I added a label to it!) Now, it's ready for gifting! Not even a full month after Christmas. Not bad!

Happy Stitching!

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