Saturday, February 1, 2014

Machine-Finished Binding: Overcoming Fear

Yeah, yeah, I turned on the drama for the title.  I was hoping to get your attention.  Someone over on Google+ asked me what I found was the secret to machine-finished binding.  I don't think I have a secret, but I do have what I've found works for me.  Here is how I do machine-finished binding.  Batteries not included.  Your mileage may vary.
First, I use the rotary cutter and ruler to trim up the edges of the quilt.  I don't do this with the rotary cutter when doing hand-finished binding.  Not that that is important to this particular story.

Then, I apply the binding to back of the quilt.  My binding is usually cut at 2.5" wide across the width of fabric.  Yes, I know a bias binding will last longer.  I also know that if your quilt is getting that much wear it is a good thing.  Also, I would rather attach a new binding than ever have to make bias binding.  Yes, I'm sure this is just because I haven't found the perfect method, or tool, or whatnot.  I have quilting to do, let's move on.
I leave myself about 12" of space so I can work in my 45 degree join for the binding.  Yes, all my binding is joined like this.  It does reduce the bulk.  Feel free to use the method that works for you.
I pin, and check, pin and check, pin and check, and at some point I decide it is good enough to stitch.
I always make sure it will fit before I trim the ends.  I'll not be stuck ripping out stitching because I cut the ends too short!  Trim and press.
Snip the threads left over from your mitering the corners and snip the corners.  Press the binding towards the raw edge.  I don't press the corners.  I also don't press it once it is pulled to the front and folded over for stitching.  I like to be able to manipulate it while I'm at the machine.
Depending on how comfortable you are with these corners will tell you if you want to pin.  I pin, because I would rather put in eight pins (two on each corner) than fiddle with it every time I come to the corner.  (Even when doing hand-finished binding I pin the corners.) This way, I get all the pinning and fiddling done at one time.  I pin first this edge of the binding.
Then I pin this edge.  This makes a nice, neat miter for this corner.  (Warning: you are allowed only one perfect miter per quilt.  Expect three to not live up to your expectations.)  I pin so the pins are easy to remove before I get there.  This way, when I get close, I can just make sure the needle is down, reach up and slip the pin out before I get too close. 
Like when I attach the binding, I start about half-way along one long edge.  For some reason, my brain thinks this makes it difficult to notice.  Not that it matters anyway.  When stitching binding, I make sure the machine is set to stop with the needle down.  If your machine doesn't do this for you, just make sure you put the needle down before moving your hands or adjusting the quilt. I slow down as I approach the corner and remove the pin.  I do a little back stitch at the corner.  Some people get in there with needle and thread to stitch down the miter.  I don't think that corner is going anywhere. 
With the needle down in the corner, turn the quilt, put the foot down and get stitching the next side.  When I get to where I started I stitch past the start point about 3-5 inches.
On the front, it makes a neat corner.  My machine-finished binding isn't perfectly straight, which is why for quilts that I will give as gifts, or are what I would consider an heirloom, I finish the binding by hand.  It is, however, fast and sturdy.  It helps me move along to the next project without getting slowed down by hours of hand-finished binding.
On the back, you'll see the line of stitching.  It might not be in the ditch, but the other side is just so much prettier than if I had tried to do it from the other side.  Now all it needs is a label and it is ready to go!  Have you mastered machine-finished binding?  Do you have other ways of doing it? 

The best part?  The quilt police have yet to show up.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the lesson, it is very similar to the way I bind mine as well. I always seem to have too much binding left over (over estimate I guess). Looks good to me.

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