This blogpost is part of the fabulously fast quilting tips blog hop celebrating the release of Amy Smart's book, Fabulously Fast Quilts, a collection of 12 patterns - many that are pre-cut friendly - using quilting short cuts to help you make quilts quickly. Some of the patterns are faster than others, but all use techniques to help you save time. Some patterns are inspired by traditional designs and methods, and others are something new entirely. From the photos you can see below, you will see that there is a whole host of fabulous designs in there and anyone coming to this year's Fat Quarterly retreat will have the chance to work on one of those designs with Amy. Go to the end of this post to see where all of the other posts in the blog hop are taking place.
And so on to fabulously fast binding. This is a step by step tutorial to help you bind your quilts faster than ever before. Before I start I want to thank Sharon from fabricsandflowers.blogspot.com who provided me with the lightbulb moment in her tip to sew the binding to the back first then bring it to the front. Here is the view of the front of the quilt with stitches running along the edge of the binding.
And here is the view of the back of the binding (confusingly, I am using the same print front and back on this quilt!) and here you can see the stitches run alongside the binding. Stephanie from venusdehilo.com has suggested that you can use this same method in reverse - i.e. sew to the front then sew down on the back with the result of a thinner binding on the front with a line of stitching alongside it.
FABULOUSLY FAST MACHINE BINDING TUTORIAL
1. Pre-prep. Make your binding as part of the process of making the quilt top. Cut your binding when you cut the fabrics for the quilt and piece the binding as you chain piece the pieces in the quilt top. That way, when your quilt is quilted, you a ready to bind right there and then. It is easy to get to the end of the quilting stage and find you have no energy left to go off and find, cut, piece, press and make binding. This was you're already ready to go. NB: you're making 2 1/2" non-bias double-fold binding joined together with diagonal seams except for stripy binding where I recommend straight seams for an invisible join.
2. Storage. I have seen many storage suggestions for binding on the interwebs involving carefully wrapping your binding around thread spools or quilt rulers. No no no. Chuck it on the floor, in the fabric drawers, in your notions box or in the shoe box you use as your project box. As is. Not reeled or rolled or ruched. If you reel or roll it (i) that's taking up valuable time and (ii) you have to unreel or unroll it as you bind. Wasting time. Pictured below is my suggested binding storage solution - it is a chuck-it-to-one-side approach which saves time now and later.
3. And now a warning about machine binding. Don't tell the quilt police. They don't like it. They don't think it's the proper way. But I say, who cares?! It's quick, it's neat, it's durable and, to anyone except a quilting purist, it looks every bit as good as hand binding and even better if your hand sewing is not tippety toppety.
4. Now to get started you attach the binding to the quilt in the usual way except that you're sewing it to the back of the quilt. You want to leave a nice long (approx 10" -12") tail before you start attaching your binding - i.e. you start sewing about 10" - 12" along the binding rather than at the start of it. I use a 3.5 stitch length for sewing on my binding. See step 4 before you start sewing however.
5. You're aiming for roughly a 1/4" seam but here is a crucial step. Sew a trial initial seam about 12" to 15" long, stop and cut threads. Fold the binding over to the front - your ideal width will mean that the binding folded to the front will be slightly wider than the binding on the back. Too wide or too narrow, rip it and try again with a slightly wider / narrower seam allowance until you have the perfect width. TOP TIP: I aim for slightly too much of an overlap than slightly too little which makes the second phase easier to get right. Once you have this crucial seam width sorted, make a mental note of where the edge of the quilt lines up against your walking foot so that your binding width will be consistent around the whole quilt. If you have a 1/4" walking foot and a needle position adjuster on your machine, you can fiddle around with these until you have the perfect binding width. Doing this seemingly cumbersome trial and error step will save you time later since the binding will be the perfect width for a machine finish.
5. Make the corners in the usual way. There are many tutorials out there for binding corners so I won't cover those in this one as we are not doing anything different here.
6. Continue attaching the binding until you are roughly 20" away from the start of the binding. I leave a nice long gap between the two ends so that joining them is easier - leave a shorter gap and you get into an unseemly slippery tussle with your quilt.
7. Lay the two tails of the binding along the edge of the quilt and fold each one over pretty much half way along the gap between them so that, when sewn together along the folds, they will be the right length to fill the gap. I know purists prefer to finish with a diagonal seam but I find a straight seam finish quicker and this tutorial is all about the speed.
8. Finger press the folds and scissor cut about 1/4" beyond each one. Fold the quilt in half so that the two binding tail ends will meet easily. Shorten stitch length to your usual piecing length and sew the two tails together along the folded lines. Finger press the seam open, put stitch length back to 3.5 and sew down the two joined tails of binding.
11. Flip the quilt over so that the front of the quilt is on top. Fold the binding over from the back to the front and clip lengths of it down using quilting clips (I use Clover Wonder Clips) and checking by feeling with your fingers that, if you run a seam along the edge of the binding, it will sit next to the binding on the back rather than sewing onto it. I am also reliably informed that there are glues which are even easier to use than clips but I have not tried them. TOP TIP: as you clip the binding down, tuck stray threads under it which will save time later as you won't need to cut / remove these once the quilt is finished. This is akin to the tucking of stray hairs into the sides of your bikini on holiday - I am hoping that not too many people will notice this slightly naughty comment hidden right here in the heart of the tutorial but I do think of this step as the pube-tucking.
12. And now to machine sew the binding down. If your machine has a speed button, lower the speed a bit. This step is definitely a case of more haste less speed so you want to go slowly enough that each stitch sits right on the edge of the binding rather than going hell for leather with stitches weaving all over the place. Again I use a 3.5 stitch length on this stretch.
13. Sew along the edge of the binding going at a nice steady pace, feeling with your fingers as you go so that the seam will sit next to the binding on the back and not go onto it, which spoils the look. Take out the clips as you go. I tend to use 20 at any one time - clipping a length about 30" long, sewing that length, removing the clips as I go, stopping at the last one and clipping the next stretch.
14. Fold corners in the usual way and once again pin or ideally clip down the corner using quilting clips. When you reach the corner, I recommend going even more slowly and I hand crank my machine through the four or five stitches that take me round the corner to ensure that each one falls exactly where I want it, adjusting the position of the quilt slightly if needed.
15. Continue around the whole quilt until you reach the point you started. And bingo, super speedy, super neat quilt binding.
And the rest of the posts in this series with lots more fabulously fast quilting tips can be found at the links below!
Monday April 28
Sachiko Aldous of Tea Rose Home
April Rosenthal of April Rosenthal
Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane
Tuesday April 29
Jen Wilding Cardon of Stitch This! Martingale Blog
Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side
Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet
Wednesday April 30
Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts
Melissa Mortenson of PolkaDot Chair
Amy Gibson of Stitchery Dickory Dock
Thursday May 1
Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced
Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily's Quilts
Jeni Baker of In Color Order
Friday May 2
Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt
Lindsay Conner of Craft Buds
Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life