Musings on Binding

There’s really no need for me to write anything remotely resembling a binding tutorial, because the world already has the one it needs–this absolute gem from Red Pepper Quilts. It’s the holy grail of binding and I highly recommend her method. I follow her steps almost to the letter and honestly can’t remember how I used to do binding, since this way feels like second nature now. The only step I skip is doing the zig zag stitch on the edge of the binding, and instead of pins, I use these handy clips. They’re super sturdy and hold your binding on nicely. I exclusively machine bind simply because I don’t have the time for hand binding, but if you have the time, I say go for it!

The only points I’d like to elaborate on are things that I’ve received questions about, and they’re minor indeed:

  • Matching Thread
  • Corners

Yep, just two! I wasn’t sure that these tips even merited their own post, but I get these questions a lot, so hopefully you find this info helpful.

Matching Thread

In the tutorial, quilters are told to pick a top thread that matches their quilt top, and a bobbin thread that matches the binding. This is exactly what I do, but when I make a quilt that features a fabric in a drastically different color than the rest of the quilt, I will swap out the top thread to match the different fabric. When I make the Stack Quilt, the bottom fabric color runs the entire length of the quilt, and is usually much darker than the rest of the quilt, so using a thread that matches it is worth the little bit of extra work. When I begin stitching the binding, I start right at the beginning of the fabric which will be getting the different thread, quilt the length of that particular fabric (back-stitching at the start and end), and switch to my main thread color for the remainder of the quilt (back-stitching at the start and end as well). And don’t worry, this won’t show through onto the back! If you pick a bobbin color that matches the binding, switching the top thread is barely noticeable.

Most quilts have multiple different colors abutting the binding, and it’s really not worth the time and effort to change your thread color numerous times. Normally I pick a color that matches the quilt as a whole (frequently an off-white shade like my go-to Aurifil Oyster), and don’t give it a second thought. But in cases like the mountain quilt I made for my son, which had large sections of white and blue fabrics, it is a nice touch to change thread colors. It’s essential to remember to back-stitch when swapping colors–just a few stitches will do!

Corners

One concern I’ve heard voiced about machine binding is the corners. Quilters always worry about these corners being nice and secure, and for good reason! You certainly don’t want them coming apart as time goes by. However, I’m here to attest that machine binding is just as sturdy as hand binding, and shouldn’t be avoided for fear of your corners coming apart. I always back-stitch in each corner for added strength, and that’s it. I don’t do any other stitching and have had zero issues with the corners coming apart. The mountain quilt I made for my son has been washed multiple times and used frequently over the past year, and the corners haven’t budged.

If you’re new to machine binding, or have never sewn it on the front before, I highly recommend giving this method a try. The end result is a professional looking finish, since the stitches are almost completely hidden.

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