Binding a Quilt - UFOs and the Final Frontier

Apr 15, 2021 8:30:00 AM / by Erica Bottger

Binding a quilt. It’s that last step, the thing that moves your project across the finish line from UFO (Unfinished Object) status to Done. It sounds so simple – but, is it? It’s often this last step that is the hardest one to take.

What is it about binding that stops even some of the most efficient and dedicated quilters in their tracks? Maybe it’s the thought of cutting and assembling the binding itself, or even the decision of what fabric to use for the binding. Maybe it’s the mere thought of hand finishing – so let’s look for some solutions!

Start with the Binding

If you purchase the fabric for binding at the same time as the rest of your project, why not cut out that binding at the same time you cut out the quilt? You already have your cutting supplies out and ready, so with just a little bit of effort you can have that binding cut out. This is the perfect strategy if you’re using AccuQuilt to die cut your quilt. With your machine and dies at the ready, it will take only a few minutes at the most to cut that binding. By the way, did you know that if you use 6 layers of fabric on the GO! Strip Cutter 2 ½” (55017), you can actually cut your queen size binding in just one pass through the cutter? How simple! Oh, and don’t worry, there are other size strip dies available, too!

Pro Tip

Now that your strips are cut, just one more simple step and you’re ready to put them together perfectly. Use a half square triangle die that finishes to a size larger than the strips you are binding with. This video shows you how to get perfect mitered cuts on the ends of the strips for flawless assembly.

A Promise to Yourself

Go ahead, with the binding already cut and ends mitered, it’s simple to sew those ends together and press the binding so it’s ready to go on your quilt. Wind the prepared binding around an empty thread spool or a cute “binding baby” so that it’s all ready to roll! Now you can simply set the binding aside, like a promise that you’re going to finish this project one day!

Decisions, Decisions

Think about your binding like the frame around your quilt. You can make that frame disappear by using the same fabric as your background or border so to allow the design to flow out to the edge of the quilt. You can also choose to “frame” your quilt with an accent color to make more of a statement. If you’re making a very scrappy project, why not a scrappy binding, too? It can set off that scrappy-happy look and use up fabric leftover from the project – talk about a win/win! 

Here's an example of a scrappy binding on the GO! Qube 12" Party Patch Sampler Quilt (PQ11464)

PQ11464_L1

Hand Finishing Fear

I frequently talk with quilters who may love the look of a hand finished binding, but they really don’t want to do it themselves. If this is you, there are some great options to explore that allow for machine finishing your binding. My favorite technique for machine finished binding is flange binding. This technique not only gives you an attractive machine finish, but it creates a wonderful accent to the whole project.

 

Bias Binding

If there were ever words to strike fear into the hearts of quilters, these would be those words. The thought of wrangling your fabric to cut bias strips may be terrifying, but you can easily cut that bias binding with a strip die! Check out this video to see how easy it can be.

Why would you even want to bother with bias binding? Many quilters will make bias bindings for all their quilts as it is the strongest binding you can make, but it’s essential if you are making a project with a curved or scalloped edge. The bias will give your binding the flexibility to sew smoothly around those curves, like the GO! Classic Double Wedding Ring Table Runner (PQ10410).

double wedding ring

Bias binding can also add to the design of the finished project when used with striped or plaid fabric (although some fabric designers now have fabrics printed so that they appear to be cut on the bias).

Make it Fun

Make hand-finishing your binding an activity to look forward to by creating a binding kit that you can keep alongside your quilts that are ready to finish. Have these items at the ready wherever you like to relax and watch television or movies so that you’re ready to go without stopping to plan and gather everything that you need. All you need is a small pair of scissors, some needles, a few neutral threads and a few binding clips and you’ll be ready to stitch any time.

Your Last Resort

When all else fails, quiz all your quilting friends on their true feelings about binding. Chances are you will find that one friend who loves to hand-finish their bindings. Now, all you have to do is make a deal with them to trade hand finishing services for fabric, wine or chocolate! Remember, it’s all about crossing that finish line!

 

Topics: Quilting, Quilting Tips

Erica Bottger

Written by Erica Bottger

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