Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Turning A Corner -- Tips for Better Bindings

Number five is finished!! 
I was concerned about too little quilting but I washed it and dried it on low and it's fine!!
Soft and cozy.
The simple quilting made for an easy and quick finish and once again, I'm wondering why I've left this top laying around for over twenty years?
As I was binding it yesterday, I thought perhaps my readers are getting a bit tired of me raving about all my finishes so today I'm revisiting a post I wrote a few years ago on how to turn a better binding corner . . . . except that for some reason, I apparently deleted the post???
Happily the photos were still archived and so while I have to write the words again, I don't have to  take new photos, so here we go.
Generally, I run a wide long zigzag around the outside edge of a finished quilt before adding the binding.  I believe it helps flatten the edges and eliminates most of the waviness that sometimes occurs during the quilting process.
I cut my binding strips on the cross grain most of the time but if I have curved edges or want a special effect (diagonal stripes), I cut the binding on the bias.  I cut 2 1/2" wide strips for a completely machine bound quilt and 2 1/4" for one where I'm going to wrap and stitch the binding to the back by hand.

I have stopped pressing the binding in half lengthwise before applying it to the quilt -- now lets see if I can find the video that sold me on that idea?

Well, I found the person, but not the video -- maybe it was a blogpost not a video?  
I'll try to explain -- if you press a crease down the center of the binding, after you've stitched it to the quilt and are ready to fold it to the other side for the second stitching, less fabric is needed on the "inside" of the doubled strip than is needed on the "outside" which means the crease can interfere with it laying smoothly.  Don't understand?  Don't worry, just try it.
Besides, I like one less task!

I apply the binding with a walking foot.  The seam depth is more than 1/4" from the needle to the edge of the foot so sometimes I adjust the needle position.  The thickness of the batting is my guide for this.  The thicker the batting, the narrower the seam needs to be (though not less than 1/4") so there is more binding to roll over the edge.
When I'm two or three inches from a corner, I fold the binding strip on a diagonal so it extends to the right of my presser foot and finger press the fold.  My diagonal fold intersects the corner of the quilt as perfectly as I can make it line up.
Then I use a colored pencil to mark a line in that crease when I unfold it.  
Now I'll stop stitching when I get to that diagonal line. . . . .
drop my needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot to stitch down the diagonal line to the edge of the quilt.  This secures the end of the stitching but doesn't interfere with the turning of the corner.
Flip the binding off the quilt so the raw edges are a continuous straight line with the next side of the quilt.  The diagonal stitching provides a firm stop line for the fold.
Now bring the binding back onto the quilt.  The key to a crisp miter happens right here!
The fold I'm point to with my scissor tip must be lined up exactly with the edge of the first side of the binding.  If it extends beyond the edge or falls short of the edge - you are already doomed.
Second, the folded edges where I'm pointing the scissor tip in the picture below must be aligned perfectly.  If the folds are cockeyed, the corner will be a mess.
To stitch down the second side, I start far enough in from the edge to secure the diagonal folds underneath but don't stitch all the way to the edge.
I do one final little step as I turn each corner.
I trim off the corner of the quilt, not the binding to reduce bulk in the corner.
This picture is from another post I wrote about binding and you may want to check it out HERE for an overview of how I handle doing the second side by machine.
If doing the second side by hand, I've learned that stitching the folded edge all the way into the corner gives me better results.
Square as square can be with a perfect little miter!
I hope these tips are helpful to you next time you bind a quilt!
I found the inspiration and courage to start quilting my birth year temperature quilt over the weekend.  I'm about one third of the way along with free motion "breezes" blowing across the surface.
Yes, I have a pot of amaryllis on my machine table!  
Plenty of sunlight and a cheery companion! 
We've had good news here in Ohio -- 40 year old's and over are eligible for the vaccine beginning this coming Friday!  That means my children are eligible.  I hope your part of the world is making good progress with this as well, too!

Wishing you lots of sunshine this week!!



  1. I learned so much from the workshop you did for the guild many moons ago, and have used most of your corner technique ever since. My kids also are now eligible for vaccines and have upcoming appointments. It is so freeing!

  2. Thanks for the binding tutorial. That is mostly how I do it. I've never zigzag stitched the edge before I did the binding. I'll have to try that on my little table topper today. Lovely colors in your temperature quilt.

  3. Thanks for sharing this binding tutorial. I have been using this for years after you showed it at Friendship. I had been marking my stoppng place with a ruler up till then. One step I am going to add is to zigzag along the perimeter of the quilt before stitching on the binding; it will help to eliminate all the threads that seem to shred along the edge much better than straight stitching. I am sending a link to this post to our group at church,

  4. Thanks for the tip...I learned two new things.

  5. Thanks for the binding tips, my corners are always difficult, I will surely try your method!!

  6. Thanks for the corner binding tips. I couldn't tell if you sewed the binding to the back first and then brought to the front or vice-versa. ??

    1. Should have said!! I do both. I sew it first to the backside if I'm doing the second round on the machine and to the frontside if I'm doing the second round by hand.

  7. I haven't been zigzagging the quilt before adding the binding and I have always pressed the binding in half. Aside from that, I basically do the same things ... but I still usually only get 3 out of 4 the way I want. LOL I know my folding at the corners is not always what it should be. Your finish is lovely and it's definitely time to release it from 20 years of hiding and your temperature quilt looks great.