WEEK 12: Quilting & binding
First off, congrats on making it this far! If you’ve been sewing along with me so far, that means you’ve made up an entire quilt top, and that’s no small feat! If you’ve still got some pep left in you, this week we’re finishing off the quilt with the layering, quilting, and finally binding.
This is the final week of the quilt, so that means the whole project is up and available 😀 So if you want to follow along as with the rest of the quilt-along, keep reading below, but now the whole quilt-along tutorial is compiled and ready to download if you’d prefer it like that:
Most quilt patterns stop here and tell you to ‘quilt and finish as desired,’ but I thought since I took you this far I might as well go to the end ^-^ There are loads of tutorials on how to quilt and bind your project, but here’s how I did mine in particular:
1. Gather up your supplies. Go back and gather some of your supplies as mentioned in Week 1 – you’ll need your batting and backing fabric. Hopefully your batting is at least 4-8 inches larger than your quilt top on all sides, and your backing maybe 6-10 inches larger. Since the quilt top is a little over 60” wide on each side, I had to piece together my quilt back from 40” wide fabric.
2. Layer and pin the pieces. Layer your quilt sections as shown; first the backing (wrong side up), then the batting, then the quilt top (right side up). Make sure every layer is centered over the other, completely smoothed out and free of wrinkles and creases. Then take safety pins and pin through all three layers of the quilt , spaced about 5-6” apart.
2. Quilt the layers. You can quilt your newly basted layers however you please, but this is how I tackled it! Since I was in a time crunch, I needed something simple to do that also followed the mermaid theme. I opted for a sort of swirling waves look, which I achieved by sewing freemotion waves over the quilt, with a spiral or two thrown in. This way I could move back and forth over the quilt, waving one way, then turning around and waving back. It’s that much easier since you can echo the previous line of stitching, then meander off and do some spirals, then come back.
I did this design over the whole of the quilt with slightly large spacing so I could finish faster.
3. Trim the layers. When the layers are all quilted, you can now trim off the excess batting and backing to leave three cleanly sewn layers behind. I find using a ruler against the edge of my quilt top, then cutting the excess with a rotary cutter gets a nice straight edge – but you can also use scissors.
4. Chain your binding strips. Onto the binding! For this quilt, I had a lot of leftover red and pink fabrics from the applique, so I opted to use the scraps to make the binding.
If you purchased whole cloth as shown in Week 1, you’ll want to cut the fabric into 2½” wide strips to make the finished ½” wide binding for the quilt. The total length of the strips need to equal about 256”, so unless you’re a wizard, we’ll have to patch those strips together to make this happen.
To avoid excess bulk, the binding strips are best joined with a bias seam as shown in the photo. You bring together two edges of the smaller strips at a 90 degree angle. Then sew a seam from outside corner to outside corner.
6. Fold & press the strip. Take the strip to your iron and fold it in half lengthwise, making it even skinnier than before. Make sure the wrong sides are facing each other and the raw edges line up, then press along the whole length of the strip. Your binding is now ready to attach to your quilt!
7. Begin the binding. Take the raw edge of your strip and line it up with the raw edge of your quilt. I like to start in the bottom center. Leave about 6-12” of excess binding behind you before you start sewing. Using a ½” seam allowance, start sewing down the side of the quilt. Stop before you get to the corner – which we’ll tackle next!
8. Sew the corner. When you get to the corner, stop your needle when it’s ½” away from the edge. Pivot your work 45 degrees, then sew into the corner and off the edge as the stitching line on the photo shows.
9. Fold the corner. After sewing the corner, you need to fold the binding in a little special way to get the next side ready for sewing. First you fold the binding away from the quilt, along the 45 degree seam you sewed in the previous step. Then you fold the binding back against the next edge of the quilt. This should leave a little triangular flap at the corner. When sewing the next side, start from the top and backstitch over all those layers of fabric really well. Keep going down the side until you get to the next corner and repeat this step.
10. Reach the end. Sew the rest of the sides of the quilt, repeating step 8 for the corners, until you nearly reach the point where you started. Stop about 6-12” short, and leave about 6-12” of your binding hanging off. This will leave plenty of room and fabric for you to join your binding ends.
11. Trim the binding. Trim off an inch or two of your extra binding and unfold it – this will serve as a handy guide so you don’t have to fumble with your ruler. Place it on the open space on your quilt as shown and overlap the binding ends. Trim the binding so the overlapped ends match the width of your guide. We’ll be sewing those ends together next.
12. Join the ends. Take the free ends of your binding, unfold them, and align them like you did back in step 3. Sew them together along the diagonal as shown, then trim the seam allowances, press the seam open, and refold the binding.
13. Attach the remaining binding. After all that sewing, ironing, and refolding, the area where you joined the ends of your binding should look no different than the rest! Align it with the last edge of your quilt and sew it in place as before. When the binding is sewn all the way around the quilt, press the binding away from the quilt. Next up is to wrap it around to the back.
14. Fold the back of the binding. Wrap the binding around to the back of the quilt so the folded edge just covers the seam from steps 7-12, then press it in place. At the corners, the binding should be folded as the photo shows. Fold one side so the corner makes a diagonal, then bring the other side over to make a neat mitered corner.
With the binding all wrapped, you’re now free to either hand sew the binding in place, or sew it in place by machine. I prefer to use a narrowish zigzag (about 2mm wide and 1mm long), sewing over the seams made in step 7-12 from the front of the quilt. This should catch the folded edge on the other side of the quilt, but check periodically as you sew to be sure this is happening.
When that’s all complete, it means you’ve finished your quilt! I hope it gets as much love as mine did 😀