Easy ways to organize and use up leftover quilt bindings

Yesterday on QUILTsocial I used THE Dream Machine 2‘s amazing couching foot to embellish one of my orphan block placemats, effortlessly. I quilted the rest of the placemats, so I’m ready to put on the bindings!

THE Dream Machine 2

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t like to throw away any bits and pieces of fabric that could be used for another project. Leftover bindings are yet another thing that I seem to accumulate.

At the beginning of my quilting career, I just threw these leftover pieces into a bin and hoped that I would remember to use them up someday. I always make my bindings the same size. I cut my strips 2½” wide.

Leftover pieces of quilt binding

Unfortunately, because it was so messy, I just kept adding to this bin instead of taking anything out of it! So today I’m going to talk about using and ORGANIZING leftover pieces of binding.

Leftover bindings are GREAT for single placemats because you don’t have to worry about a whole set of placemats matching each other. Go through your bindings and pick out ones that match your placemats and are long enough to go around.

Make sure that the piece of binding is long enough to go all the way around the placemat PLUS at least 5″ to accommodate the corners. Sew these bindings onto your placemats with your favorite method. Check out Elaine’s post from March 29th, 2018 to get some great tips for sewing on bindings.

Measure the length needed

Any pieces that are not long enough to go around a placemat are probably not big enough to use on any project (unless you’re making mug rugs) but they can be sewn into scrappy bindings! Sort your small pieces of binding into piles by color before sewing them together end-to-end. Since I always make my bindings the same size, I can easily sew these small pieces together.

Sorting bindings by color

The laser pointer on THE Dream Machine 2 is great for sewing bindings together with a mitred seam.

Sew bindings together with a mitred seam

Press the seams between strips of binding open using a hot iron.

Press the seams open

Roll the bindings onto strips of cardboard and then pin the end to keep them neat and tidy.

Roll onto cardboard

The bindings, once wrapped onto the cardboard strips can be stored in a plastic bin. I cut my pieces of cardboard short enough that they could be placed sideways in the bin. This made the best use of the space in the bin.

Storing the binding strips

The leftover binding strips are now neatly stored and can easily be used for placemats or other larger projects.

Now, the trick to keeping this bin tidy: each time you make a project and have leftover bindings, either wrap the whole binding onto one of the cardboard pieces or sew it onto the end of one of the scrappy bindings and then wind onto the cardboard. By doing this each time you’re adding to the bin, you’ll know what’s in there AND be able to use them without having to sort them or iron ones that have been squished.

Neat and tidy bindings

Here’s one of my placemats with a scrappy binding made with pieces from my binding bin.

Scrappy binding

Decorative stitches can be used when top stitching binding that was originally sewn to the back of the placemat. Sew the bindings on like you usually do, but sew them to the back of the placemat first and then fold over to the front. Sew your decorative stitch along the edge of the binding. I use a Clover ball point awl to hold the binding down in place as I’m sewing.

The “J” foot on THE Dream Machine 2 is awesome for sewing down bindings because of the clear front and off-set opening!

Decorative stitching on binding

Here’s my pile of finished placemats, sewn, quilted, embellished and bound with THE Dream Machine 2 from Brother. Now that they’re done, I can bring them to my next guild meeting so they can be added to our ever-growing pile to be donated to Meals on Wheels.

The finished placemats

Thanks for joining me this week as I used up some of my orphan quilt blocks! As I said on Monday, it really gives you a sense of accomplishment to finish a project – even a small one. And when it uses up leftover blocks and scraps that are laying around, it feels even better! Please consider using up some of your orphan blocks to make a small project that you can donate to a worthy cause. It really is a win-win situation!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: 9 simple steps for effortless couching with THE Dream Machine 2

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