For our final installment of the Virtual Quilting Bee, let’s talk about finishing – or binding – a quilt. This is adding that final edge to cover the raw edges of the fabric after the quilt has been quilted. One option is to roll over the back fabric edges and sew them to the front to finish that edge. I personally like the look of a separate binding – gives it a clean finish. It’s also a fun excuse to use another fabric and use it to finish off the final design.
Cutting the fabric: I like to do a double binding on my quilts – meaning there are two layers to the binding edge. This gives it an extra layer of fabric to hold up against wear and tear. To get this I cut my binding strips 2 1/2″ wide. You can cut your strips across the width of the fabric yardage, or cut them on the bias, which means to cut them diagonally across the fabric.
There are pros and cons to both methods. Cutting straight-edge is easier with less fabric waste. Bias bindings are sturdier because the fabric edge not being on the straight of grain. If you are going to have any kind of curved edge to your quilt, you will need a bias binding.
One determining factor for whether you cut straight edge or bias binding is the fabric itself. You may want to put a stripe or a gingham on the bias to make a diagonal design for the binding. The fabric I chose already had a diagonal motif, so I choose the straight edge to keep the diagonal design as is.
When cutting a straight edge binding (or any straight strips of fabric) before you cut, make sure your selvage edges line up straight with each other. This may require refolding the fabric and pressing a new center fold. As you can see in the picture above, the fabric came off the bolt with the selvage edges not matched up.
When selvage edges are matched up and straight, line up the center fold on a straight line on your quilting mat (see arrow above) and carefully trim the edge to create a straight edge and therefore, a straight strip of fabric. (This step is important, otherwise your fabric strip could end up V shaped.)
I generally cut my binding strips 2 1/2″ wide, unless it’s a small quilt when I might cut them 2 1/4″ wide.
For the Virtual Quilting Bee Quilt cut 7 strips 2 1/2″ wide x 42″ (or width of fabric) – or if you are using bias binding, you will need 275″ of continuous bias binding.
Trim selvage edges off of all strips and sew them end to end to create one long strip, pressing seams open (so you don’t have bulk). Fold in half lengthwise and press.
Using a ruler and rotary cutter and the quilt top as a guide, trim the excess batting and backing layers so that all edges of the quilt are the same. Be careful to keep the quilt’s sides square.
For more perspective and additional photos of the same method see this Binding a Quilt tutorial. Jaybird Quilts also has an excellent perspective on binding here, as well as information about calculating fabric requirements for binding.
Some quick thoughts on washing your quilt: I personally love to machine wash my machine-quilted-quilts when they are done because they soften up a lot and have a more antiqued, crinkly look. If you’ve used cotton batting they are likely to shrink slightly more. (I don’t machine-wash hand quilted quilts as liberally.)
I wash the quilts on a gentle cycle with a very mild soap and dry on a low heat setting. If you’re at all worried about color bleeding, the first time you wash a quilt throw in a Shout Color Catcher (available in the laundry aisle at the grocery store). Remember from our discussion on choosing fabrics for quilts, if you’re using high-quality quilt fabrics, you should have very little worry about colors bleeding.
If you have any additional questions about finishing a quilt, leave a comment and I will answer in them in the comments section below.
And that wraps up our Virtual Quilting Bee series! For links to all the the posts in this series visit the Virtual Quilting Bee page. I’ll have a few more shots of both of the quilts together once I get the Kona version back from the quilter. And I’m thinking it would be fun to have a little party to show off the quilts that have been put together using these tutorials. Let’s wait until after the busy holiday season. So look for an announcement at the beginning of February!
Thanks so much to all who played along as well as Moda and Robert Kaufman for sponsoring the fabrics I used.
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