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3 essential tips for binding a quilt, turning your corners successfully

by Elaine Theriault

It’s already the end of the week. Why does time go so fast when you’re having fun? It’s been a great week with the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q. There’s so much more which I hope to share with you in the future.

I’m determined that this year is the year to complete my unfinished projects (well some of them at least) and if I start something, I want it finished. Trimming, binding, and labels are those finishing details that we tend to leave unfinished.

Let’s have a look at how to trim the table runner I quilted yesterday using free motion and get the binding on.

Husqvarna Viking EPIC 980Q

Husqvarna Viking EPIC 980Q

When trimming a quilt, I like to start in the corner (if there is one). I use a square ruler and trim along both sides to ensure that the corner is square. Then I move around the quilt and trim each of the edges and eventually ending back where I started.

Squaring the 90° ends of the table runner

Squaring the 90° ends of the table runner

TIP 1 stitch the raw edges together

If there’s a border, you can use the border as a guide on where to trim the quilt, but if there isn’t, I trim along the edge of the fabric.

But you can see below that we have a puffy edge that won’t make it easy to apply the binding.

A puffy edge on the trimmed table runner

A puffy edge on the trimmed table runner

I use a three-step zigzag to enclose that open edge. Make sure the edge of the zigzag goes over the edge of the quilt so that all three layers are firmly attached and no open gaps appear along the outer edge.

Depending on the width of the seam that you use for adding the binding, make sure that the width of your zigzag doesn’t exceed that seam allowance.

The edge of the table runner has been closed up using a three-step zigzag

The edge of the table runner has been closed up using a three-step zigzag

My binding is made and while there are lots of handy little holders you can purchase to wind that binding, I have way too many bindings to do that. I simply wind it in a figure-8 on my hand. If you set the binding on your lap and pull from the middle, the binding never twists. Here’s a link to a blog post I did about how to calculate and prepare the binding.

You’ll also notice a small label. It looks like the kind of label you’d find on clothing because that’s exactly what it is. The small label gets folded in half and tucked inside the binding on the wrong side of the project. This is for those projects where I don’t need/want a big detailed label. My logo and blog address are on one side and my name and phone number will appear on the underside. It’s brilliant, it’s fast and when that binding is on, I’m done! I like that!

The edge of the table runner has been closed up using a three-step zigzag

The edge of the table runner has been closed up using a three-step zigzag

TIP 2 use a walking foot

Now onto sewing on the binding. I use my Dual Feed Foot or the walking foot. Depending on the quilt, I’ll use invisible thread for the top which is what I did in this case as I didn’t have any matching thread for that color fabric. I used a white thread in the bobbin that matched the backing fabric.

The Dual Feed Foot (also known as the walking foot)

The Dual Feed Foot (also known as the walking foot)

I cut my binding strips 2½” and fold them in half. It drives me crazy when I touch the edge of the binding and feel nothing inside. To solve that problem, you need to take a large enough seam so that the quilt completely fills the binding. My seam allowance is generous. If you want to use ¼” seam allowance, then use a much smaller width of strips for your binding.

I’ve figured out that by keeping the binding in line with the edge of the opening on my walking foot, that I get the perfect seam allowance.

A very important note: since we’re sewing the entire binding on with the sewing machine, sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt, not the front as you normally would.

Sewing the binding on with the walking foot

Sewing the binding on with the walking foot

TIP 3 turning the corners

Now comes the tricky part of turning the corners.

I think we all get how it works at the 90° corner. I stop my seam from the corner of the project by the width of the seam allowance I’m using. I eyeball this. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be very close. I use the FIX function on the Epic 980Q to anchor the seam end and I remove the table runner from under the sewing machine. I know there are lots of ways to end off that seam and run off the corner, but I’ve put on hundreds of bindings and I’ve never needed to do that. Why waste my time!

To create the mitered corner, you move that binding up so that it’s parallel to the next raw edge, then bring it back down so it’s laying next to the raw edge of the quilt. You can see this method too in the post I mentioned above on how to calculate and prepare the binding. Then you can start sewing again.

Below, you can see that I’ve got the binding running north of the table runner, but parallel to the raw edge of the quilt. Note this is a 90° corner.

Preparing to turn the corner on a 90° corner

Preparing to turn the corner on a 90° corner

If you’ve been following all week, you’ll have noticed that my table runner has 6 corners on it. Two are 90° and four are not. The corners that are not 90° are done the same way as the 90° corners, you just need to change the angle to match the table runner. I’ll show you what I mean.

As you approach the corners that are not 90°, you need to stop your seam where you envision the two seam lines will intersect. Again, I eyeball this. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be close. Use the FIX function on the Epic 980Q to anchor the end of the seam.

Stop the seam at the intersection of the two seams and anchor the end using the FIX function

Stop the seam at the intersection of the two seams and anchor the end using the FIX function

Then you’re going to remove the project from under the needle of the sewing machine. Take the binding and move it north until it’s parallel to the next raw edge of the project. Exactly like you would with the 90° corners, but change the angle. So far so good?

Positioning the binding on a corner that is not 90°

Positioning the binding on a corner that is not 90°

Then you want to bring the binding strip back down so that it’s resting on the raw edge of the project. Pull it tight at the corner so there’s no excess fabric where the previous line of stitching ended. Notice there’s less extra fabric than you would have with a 90° corner. That’s because you don’t need as much extra fabric to create a mitered corner on this less than 90° corner.

Bring the binding down parallel to the raw edge of the quilt, leaving some extra in the corner to make the turn

Bring the binding down parallel to the raw edge of the quilt, leaving some extra in the corner to make the turn

Using the FIX function to anchor the beginning of the seam, sew the next binding seam. Continue around the quilt allowing the appropriate fullness for the mitered corner at each of the corners. Join the seam at the end.

I’ve made note of a brilliant join in the blog post I mentioned previously, how to prepare the binding, be sure to check it out.

The excess fabric for the mitered corner at a less than 90° 

The excess fabric for the mitered corner at a less than 90°

It doesn’t matter which color thread you use to sew that first part of the binding process, but in this step, you want to match your threads. As mentioned, I used invisible for the top simply because I didn’t have a color on hand that matched the fabric. I used white in the bobbin to match the backing. I’ve used invisible on both the top and bobbin if I needed to.

Start along one of the edges (not in a corner) and fold the binding over, pulling it tight so the quilt fills the binding and the folded edge of the binding is slightly wider on the top than the bottom. You can feel it with your fingers. Stitch along the folded edge of the binding. In a perfect world, your seam on the wrong side should not touch the binding. It’ll run just alongside the binding, but not on it.

Stitching the folded edge of the binding in place on the front of the table runner

Stitching the folded edge of the binding in place on the front of the table runner

When you get to the corners, fold the miter in place a couple of inches before you get the corner. Using your Needle Stop Up/Down feature to sew the binding is a huge help, but when you get to the corners, this feature is a MUST.

Once I’m happy with the miter fold, then I use my quilter’s awl or stiletto to hold it in place. I’ve heard of many other tools that people use, but you can’t get the same pressure to make that miter stay in place. The long, metal tip of this tool is essential! I hold that miter right under the foot until it is sewn in place. Your fingers are too big to get under the foot, and if you don’t hold the corner until it is completely sewn, your miter will open up and the corner won’t be nice.

Using the quilter's awl to anchor the mitered corner until it will be sewn in place

Using the quilter’s awl to anchor the mitered corner until it will be sewn in place

Here are the beautifully formed mitered corners on both angles of the table runner. This is the back of the table runner and you can see that line of white thread that was used to stitch the binding down is running just along the edge of the binding, but not on the binding. It’s practically invisible and once you get good at it, you shouldn’t be stitching on your binding.

The binding seam line is practically invisible on the back of the table runner

The binding seam line is practically invisible on the back of the table runner

This is what it looks like from the front. If you want, you can hand stitch those mitered corners on the binding closed. Lots of people don’t even stitch those closed when they’re applying the binding by hand. I always do, but I’m a bit lazy on the machine stitched bindings. It all depends on what the project is going to be used for.

The binding on the front of the table runner

The binding on the front of the table runner

Here’s the finished table runner. Yes – it’s finished, because it has the neat little label on the back, doesn’t require a sleeve and that makes number eight for the year!

Finished table runner project

Finished table runner project

The back of the finished table runner

The back of the finished table runner

What a great feeling to finish this table runner. It was easy, provided an opportunity to practice both stitch in the ditch quilting and free motion, yet it was an easy size to work with and didn’t take long from start to finish.

What made it even faster to complete, was the fact of using the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q for all aspects of the table runner. The free motion quilting was a breeze and I never had to worry about anything once I set the sewing machine for the technique. No hiccups even going through the thick layers of fabric. And the penetration power made the binding a snap to put on.

I can’t say enough about the Epic 980Q. It’s a fabulous quilting machine and it passed all the quilting tests with flying colors.

I hope you enjoyed this week and that you learned at least one tip. Can’t wait to get back and see what other great features I discover in this sewing machine.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: 6 tips to improve your machine quilting

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15 comments

Jo Mercer December 22, 2019 - 2:46 pm

Where do you get your sew-in labels made?

Reply
Elaine Theriault January 2, 2020 - 8:42 am

Jo — I buy them from https://ikaprint.com/ . You get to design them yourself. Elaine

Reply
Marion D August 21, 2019 - 2:27 am

HI Elaine, I noticed that the edges of your raw quilt curved up a bit, but the final quilt was totally flat. I am making a hexagonal shaped quilt and after I applied the binding,(and I wished I had seen your post before that, very helpful, I had great trouble doing the less than 90% corners)) the edges are curling up a lot. What did I do wrong? I am in the process of undoing the binding.

Reply
Elaine Theriault August 21, 2019 - 7:05 am

Marion – One thing that helps a lot is to gently pull on the binding (to give tension) when stitching the binding on. Otherwise, there is too much binding applied for the edges of the quilt and that causes waves. Good luck and thanks for following the blog. Elaine

Reply
Marion D August 21, 2019 - 11:47 pm

Thank you, Elaine. 🙂

Reply
Rachell Reilly February 1, 2019 - 7:44 pm

This is great! I bet most of us haven’t completed a binding with angles different than 90 degrees!

Reply
Diana Sansom February 11, 2018 - 6:51 pm

This was a wonder demo on binding a quilt of runner! Thanks!

Reply
Cindy Shelley February 7, 2018 - 4:47 pm

Thank you so much for this post the step by step and pictures are great!!!

Reply
Cathy Brown February 7, 2018 - 1:37 pm

This was very helpful as I love to make runners and placemats.

Reply
Laura February 6, 2018 - 10:28 pm

I love these technique posts. Very helpful. Thanks for all the effort you put into them.

Reply
Linda Webster February 6, 2018 - 6:51 pm

Thanks for the great tips. My next time I bind a quilt I should have a much easier time of it.

Reply
Quilting Jeannie February 6, 2018 - 6:58 am

Thank you for the instructions and perfect photos. This is essentially what I do, but I don’t machine stitch the second edge. Currently I hand stitch it, but you make this faster machine stitching look so easy, I think I’ll try that on my next quilt. So, thanks.

Reply
Linda Williamson February 5, 2018 - 2:55 pm

This was timely since I was getting ready to bind a new baby quilt. I pinned this for future reference. Thanks for the great tutorial.

Reply
Kathy E. February 4, 2018 - 10:11 pm

Elaine, your tutorials are always so clear and helpful! Just last week, I made a table runner with 6 corners and had a heck-of-a-time with each of them! I wish I’d had your help to get me through that task! I also hope to get my stitching to look as good on the reverse side…it’s beautiful!

Reply
Elaine Theriault February 6, 2018 - 8:23 am

Kathy — thanks so much! It’s all about the practice. My first few quilts bound this way were not so pretty! Elaine

Reply

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