Category Archives: binding

Triple finish

Done, done and DONE! Finally, I finished two UFOs and all eight Santa place mats. I hadn’t done any machine quilting since before we moved in 2014, so I chose smaller projects to ease myself back into the groove.

I admit, shame was the motivating factor for crossing the finish line, particularly since each of these projects was started around the turn of the century. First is the 42″ x 42″ Fences ‘n Firs wall hanging.

Designed by Susan Preglow and Cathy Slatterly, the pattern for this was featured in the January 2000 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts.

I loved the scrappy nature of the design, but as a newbie quilter back then, I had no stash and no scraps, so I used fat quarters and standard, quarter-yard cuts to piece the top. Now, 17 years later, I can’t imagine my quilting life with no stash, although I could definitely embrace the no-scraps aspect of it!

Quilting this little project was an exercise in one step forward, two steps back. Besides not knowing for the longest time how to quilt the tree blocks, once I did figure it out, I ended up re-quilting all 12 of them because I hated the way they looked. The nylon thread I had used just didn’t look right, so I ended up using matching thread. Tension issues led me to quilt nearly half of them yet a third time.

On top of that, I’m hoping the stain in one of the rail fence blocks hasn’t permanently set in.

I’m not exactly sure how it got there; it’s possibly an acid stain from the packing paper the quilts were wrapped and stored in while we moved and built our house. More likely, it was caused by a Texas cockroach (no amount of pest control keeps them ALL away). Disgusting, I know.

The backing is pieced with leftovers from the top:

I used a simple cable design for the border:

Here’s a look at the free motion machine quilting of a tree from the back:

and a maple leaf:

The vertical lines running through the leaf are the ditch quilting lines inside the rail fence blocks.

My machine quilting is definitely improving, but I still find it intimidating.

My second finish is this simple, 46″ x 54″ quilt:

There must’ve been a perfectly good OCD reason for the last square in the bottom row to be red instead of blue, but so much time has passed, I don’t remember what it was.

The squares are quilted with diagonal lines spaced two inches apart and the sashing strips and border are quilted with a single cable design.

It’s made with Aunt Grace Christmas prints, which were available between 1996 and 2001.

Check out these vintage cuties:

Here is the backing fabric:

The only two places I could have bought these prints is Houston or a little shop in Estes Park, Colorado. The striped fabric used for the binding was purchased at the Houston Quilt Festival in the early 2000s.

Completing the binding for all eight Santa place mats is the third and final finish. Here they are with their matching table runner:

Although the curved edges in this project required it, I discovered that I’m not fond of working with bias binding!

It feels good to say “done,” but there’s still a lot on the list, so I’d best keep on keepin’ on.

Thanks for checking in!


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Filed under binding, borders, Christmas, fabric, machine quilting, quilting, scrappy backs, thread

Scrappy (and pretty) in pink

Last week I pulled all the leftover pink batik cuts from my pink lawn chair quilt to piece the backing for it.

pink white lawn chair quilt

I love the challenge of piecing the puzzle and the satisfaction of using up my stash.


Here is the binding:


Thanks for checking in!

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Patchwork progress

Lately, I haven’t posted all that frequently, but I have been working on quilting projects, in between house cleaning, tending to a high school senior and baking for Eric. If you’ve been following the story of Eric’s Christmas packages, they finally arrived in Afghanistan after Christmas. Meanwhile, in response to my request for an update on their delivery status, the post office emailed me a link to their customer service survey with a request to fill it out.


Three or four days later, I finally received a form letter in my inbox explaining that mail for overseas military members goes into a ginormous black hole so no one can be accountable—well, that clears things up nicely, doesn’t it?


We packed two more boxes of snacks and other items to send, hoping that now that the Christmas rush is over, it will take less time for them to reach their destination—why did I just say that after what I wrote in the first paragraph above? I suppose my head needs examining now.

One of the boxes has four loaves of quick bread: two apple, two pumpkin, which I hope Eric will share with his maties (I know that’s not a word, but it sounds cute, so I’m going with it).


At our TSA meeting on Tuesday, I finished stitching the binding onto my Christmas tree table runner:


I increased the amount of quilting on the tree trunks, and I think they look much better with more.

I increased the amount of quilting on the tree trunks, and I think they look much better with more.

I completed two more sets of rows on my scrappy 1930s quilt. I really, really like the way it looks but don’t think I’ll take on another one of this kind.

scrappy 30s progress

You sew and sew and sew to get your 4-patch, you sew and sew and sew to get your 6-patch, then you sew and sew and sew to put bunches of them together and four hours later you have a row. Then you get to pin match 30-plus seams and sew some more and hope this doesn’t happen:



Filed under binding, Christmas, piecing, quilting

Binding panic

Annlee called last Friday afternoon in a state of panic. She was in the final stages of completing two commissioned quilts for a cabin resort. To speed things along, she had sent one of the quilts out to be bound and was in full distress upon its delivery back to her. She needed help. Pronto.

Saturday afternoon, she brought the quilt over so I could join her panic fest. The binding was to finish at ½”, which can be achieved one of two ways:

  • Cut the border (or your perimeter blocks if there is no border) slightly bigger to accommodate a ½” seam or…
  • Sew it with the usual ¼” seam and trim the backing and batting ½” from the seam line.

Annlee’s subcontractor had sewn the binding on with a ¼” seam and trimmed the backing and batting even with the raw edges of the quilt top. This would leave the binding empty when it was turned and stitched to the back. To remedy this, the subcontractor zigzagged a piece of cording to the edge…and things deteriorated from there.

We discussed at length how to tackle it and before she left, we removed the cording. While I was itching to remove the binding and start anew, Annlee was reluctant. We exhausted our discussion of solutions for the quilt and set it aside, turning our attention to the other quilt.

Annlee left both quilts at my house. Looking back, I hope that physically separating her from the source of her stress for 24 hours was a good thing.

Late Sunday afternoon, I gave Annlee the second quilt with binding attached so she could begin hand stitching while I worked on the other quilt. We talked some more about how to handle the other one and at one point she said, “If you take this binding off, I’ll be really mad at you.”

Sunday night after trying to fix it without removing the binding, I caved and spent about 2½ hours picking stitches while listening to Return of the Jedi.

Monday morning, I was well into the groove of getting the binding back on to the other quilt, using a good number of rulers and chalk markers in my collection. My goal was to

  • avoid stitching over triangle points
  • maintain a relatively consistent block dimension
  • keep the edges straight and square in spite of no excess to work with as it had all been trimmed away—argh!

squaring up

I emailed Annlee about 11:30 asking her to give me the entire day. I needed peace and quiet to measure, mark, pin, sew and concentrate. She wrote to say okay and that she’d had time to manufacture a small flange consisting of a length of muslin to which she machine basted a strip of batting.


The plan was to butt and stitch the flange to the edge of the quilt to provide something to wrap the binding around when it was time to turn it to the back.


She called a little later and said, “You took the binding off, didn’t you?”



But I just couldn’t work with it any other way but off!

I realized that in asking her to give me the entire day, I was also asking her to trust me 100 percent and yield control. Doing so at that point I suspected might have been counter to her instincts, given she had just done that with her subcontractor and was now dealing with such a negative result. I was grateful for her confidence and it made me even more determined to help make things right for her.

On Tuesday night I handed off the second quilt to Annlee with binding re-attached, this time sewn straight with properly mitered corners, diagonally joined ends, square edges and no chopped off triangle points.

the beast

Attaching the binding to this quilt was an exercise in compromises.

The biggest concern was dealing with the points of the triangles around the perimeter of the quilt when all the excess had been trimmed away. There were points that barely had ¼” of layers extending beyond them while the one right next door might have a generous ⅜” beyond it. This made me wonder if the binding had been sewn on accurately to begin with.

Add to that the need to make sure all the blocks measured 15½”, it’s no wonder Annlee was so stressed.

Now though, we were confident she could attach the flange with relative ease (relative because the quilt measures 80 inches square and it is a beast to support and guide through the machine).

We traded quilts again so I could continue hand stitching the binding to the first one while she worked on the other one.

the other one

Yesterday, despite my best effort, I handed it back to her with about 18 to 20 inches left to go.

Here's Annlee holding one of the quilts.

Here’s Annlee holding one of the quilts.

When she arrived at my house to pick it up, she came to the door carrying this bouquet of gorgeous peach colored roses to say thank you:


It felt good to put the quilts back into her hands, but it felt even better knowing I was able to help.


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How to make double fold (French) binding

I took a break from the last bit of quilting on the Christmas table runner to make binding for it with this print:

binding fabric

I prefer double or French fold binding because with two layers, it’s sturdier than single fold, which should add to the quilt’s longevity. Double fold is also faster and easier to tack to the back because there is no raw edge to fold and press under as with single fold binding.

I also prefer straight grain (cut from width-of-fabric strips) versus bias binding. If I ever make a quilt with a scalloped border or any other type of curved edge, I’ll use bias binding.

The first step to computing the number of strips needed to make straight grain binding is to determine the total length of binding you need:

[(length + width) x 2] + 10

The extra 10 inches is needed for seam allowances, mitering and to give you enough to work with when joining the two ends.

Now take the total length and divide it by 40 to get the number of width-of-fabric strips to cut. For the table runner, I needed 150 inches of binding, so:

150 ÷ 40 = 3.75

It’s difficult to cut ¾ of a strip, so round up to four.

Now scroll through the photos below for a quick tutorial on how to make binding for your quilt.

binding strips

right angle

right angle pin

sew strips

ruler to trim

seam trimmed

Diagonal seams give a professional finish to the edge of your quilt.

Diagonal seams give a professional finish to the edge of your quilt.


Try not to stretch or pull on the binding strip while pressing it in half.

Try not to stretch or pull on the binding strip while pressing it in half.

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Binding series, part 3: joining binding ends

Scroll through the photos below for a tutorial on how to connect the ends of your binding strips in a way that will appear unnoticeable. Making the last connection a diagonal one means it looks just like all the other seams in your binding—no one will ever know where you started or ended. Pretty cool!


















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Binding series, part 2: mitering corners

We encountered many customers at the shop who would hyperventilate over the thought of mitering binding corners and none of us could ever figure out why. It’s not difficult at all—you just need to pay a little attention. Here, I’ll prove it:

Picking up from yesterday, you have now sewn the binding strip from the middle of one side to within ¼” of the first corner. The quilt has been removed from the machine and the first corner area is lying on a flat surface in front of you.

Fold the binding strip straight up and away from the quilt to create a 45-degree angle. Use the 45-degree line on a 4″ or 6″ ruler to ensure you have a true 45-degree angle to your binding strip.

binding miter1

Do this by aligning the top and right sides of the ruler with the edges of your quilt. You may have to adjust the binding strip a bit until the 45-degree fold aligns with the ruler line, but when it does, insert some pins from the top to maintain the angle while you finish the miter.

binding miter pin2

Fold the binding strip back down toward the quilt, aligning it with the top and right sides of the quilt, using pins to hold the original miter. Continue pinning the strip in place at least part way down the next side.

binding miter finish3

Mark a small dot ¼” from the top and right sides.

binding quarter inch mark4

binding pencil mark5

Position the quilt under the walking foot and lower the needle into the dot. If you’ve measured accurately, you will feel the needle pierce the bump made from your previous ¼” stop.

binding walking foot6

Sew along the second side. Here are a couple photos of the front and back side of the miter:

binding miter finish double

Repeat these steps for the remaining corners.

Next time: joining binding ends.

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Binding series, part 1: Attaching binding

Today is binding day for the quilt I named Railroad Ties. Here’s how I do it:

Find the middle of the longest side, measure 2″ to 4″ from there and mark with a pin.

Measure 12″ from one end of your binding strip and mark with a pin.

Align the pin on your binding strip with the pin 2″ to 4″ from the middle and begin pinning the binding to the quilt at that point.

 binding start

Spread the quilt on the floor and arrange the binding strip around its perimeter to make sure seams in the binding do not fall on any of the corners. If that happens, make the necessary adjustments before continuing.

binding seam corner

Pinning while the quilt is spread out on the floor is backbreaking, so move the quilt to a higher surface to pin the binding on. It’s less tempting to stretch the binding if everything is flat.

binding pin

Pin to within one inch of the corner.

Attach your walking foot and insert the needle into the beginning spot identified earlier and begin sewing with a ¼” seam allowance.

binding walking foot

When you come to within seven or eight inches of the corner, stop with the needle down and mark a dot ¼” from both the bottom and right edges.

binding near corner

Sew to the dot, making sure the needle goes through it.

binding quarter inch mark

You may have to take this last stitch manually: Raise the presser foot slightly (if you have a knee lift feature, this is a time to use it) nudge the quilt under the needle and turn the fly wheel to ensure it exactly pierces the dot.

binding needle in dot

Stop sewing here.

binding turn quilt

With the needle down, turn the quilt 90 degrees so you are ready to stitch along the next edge. Instead of sewing forward, backstitch off the edge (usually three to four stitches, depending on stitch length) and back tack forward a couple of stitches to secure. You can clip the threads or tie a knot–guess which one I do?

binding back tack

Remove the quilt from the machine and lay the first corner section on a flat surface.

Tomorrow I’ll review mitering corners. Thanks for visiting!

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Dinner and binding clips

Last night two friends from the shop treated me to a last-day-of-work dinner during which Marge gave me this cool gift:

box of clips

They’re cute little clips you use instead of pins. They are great for holding binding in place while hand stitching it to the back. The red portion is contoured to accommodate the binding’s bulk without distorting it.

single clip

The bottom is flat and marked with seam allowances measuring 3/16″, ¼” and ⅜”. This allows you to position the clip to a specified binding width and machine stitch the binding from the front with the assurance that you will also be securing it on the back. Hmm, even after saying that, I’m still not sure exactly how that would work, but it sounded good when Annlee was explaining it to us. Still, it doesn’t matter much because I have no plans to finish a binding by machine. I’m just overjoyed at the—OW—prospect of no longer—OW—enduring hundreds of pinpricks while—OW—hand stitching the binding—OW—to the back!

The fun part was realizing that I will never use all 50 clips at the same time, so I counted 25 for Marge and she gave Annlee five out of that to add to her collection of 10 at home. I think we’re all set!

Thanks, Marge, from me and my hands!

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