I would say that the process of making a quilt can be broken down to 4 stages: design, piecing, quilting and finally binding.
I thoroughly enjoy designing and piecing quilts. It’s comparable to putting together a giant colorful puzzle. I love the way a print is transformed when you cut it down to size and pair it with other prints. Fabric pieced together becomes a lovely work of art, one that personalizes your taste combined with the fabric designer’s color pallette.
Now that I have attempted quilting on a frame with great success, I can say that I truly enjoy the first 3 stages of making a quilt. But there is one stage left that I abhor. Binding. I don’t mind cutting out my binding strips and I even enjoy sewing the strips onto the quilt edge. It is the handwork that inevitably follows that I dread. Don’t get me wrong, I love handwork. However, if I am going to take the time to do it, I want it to be embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch or the like. Not binding.
About a year ago, I had a customer come in to bind a quilt and she concurred that she also hated the handwork side of binding. She wanted to try sewing the binding on the top , as normal, but then fold it over and try to stitch in the ditch on the front in order to secure the back. I know the quilting purist out there is cringing right now, but that’s brilliant! I had five quilts at home that were finished up to the binding and they were never on the top of my to-do list.
I went home and immediately got back to those forgotten quilts. I cut out my binding: 2 1/2″ strips and sewed them in line. I sewed it on the top of my quilt just as I normally would. I never pin my binding and I always start in the middle of one side, leaving a tail to attach to the other end of the binding. Here is a quick tutorial on mitering your corners.
After I got my binding sewn on top, I simply pressed it over to the other side.
I replaced my closed-toe sole on my walking foot with my stitch-in-the-ditch sole and increased my stitch length to 3.5. Once again, I did not pin. Not a fan of pinning.
This all worked wonderfully until I turned my quilt over and saw that my stitches slipped off the back binding in a few spaces. There must be a better way. On my next quilt I tried fusible thread in my bobbin. This was better, but not yet foolproof. Then it came to me, Wash Away Wonder Tape! MD’s best friend! It’s perfect for this. It’s exactly 1/4″ wide so it fits perfectly in your 1/4″ seam allowance. Let’s try this again.
When I completed this round, I turned my quilt over and it was done perfectly! No missed stitches off the binding this time. I know you all may be sick of hearing about Wash Away Wonder Tape, but I think we’ve established a long-term relationship with this product. If you are like me and have a stack of sad unfinished quilts starring at you every time you sew, give this technique a try.