How to make and apply reversible binding on your quilts

Hello again! How are you making out with your five bobbin marathon? It takes a lot of sewing to use up five bobbins. But just when you don’t want it to happen, the bobbin runs out. I’m still sewing. Today we’re taking a little detour from the five bobbins and I’m going to show you how to make a reversible binding.

I’m using the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q to make another set of placemats and put the reversible binding on. I love this sewing machine. It’s not heavy so it’s perfect if you wanted to take it to sewing days or retreats. It has a small footprint so it doesn’t require a huge amount of space on your sewing table, but yet, it has a lot of features. I’m only scratching the surface of what this machine can do.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

If you’re like me and I know you are, you’ve got a lot of UFOs hanging around your studio. The big problem is how to clear up some of those UFOs. I guess we need to ask ourselves, why we have so many and why did they become a UFO. I’m starting to pull the UFOs out of the closet and use them as examples of cool techniques to share with you. While I still have many years of sewing ahead of me, I can’t even contemplate the thought of having to pack up this stuff to move or even to give away. So I’m on a mission.

This is a set of four placemats that I started years ago. The fronts and backs of the placemats were completed with curved piecing.

The curved pieced fronts and backs of three placemats

One of the placemats was completely finished. That means I have to make the other three match the completed one. Let’s see what else I left in the project box.

One finished placemat with reversible binding.

1. Baste

If you’ve been following my blog posts, you know what I’m going to say about basting. Yep – get out the iron and press the front of the placemat to the batting (in this case, a fairly dense batting was used) and then press the back of the placemat to the other side of the batting. If you need to put in a couple of pins, by all means, do so.

If you feel you need a bit more basting than just this process, then go ahead. I go for speed in almost everything I do, but I’m also a stickler for accuracy. I realize that this comes with experience, but if you don’t start letting go a bit, you’ll never get comfortable.

The placemats will be trimmed once they are quilted. They are slightly larger than they need to be so it wasn’t too much of a challenge to baste them together.

Baste the placemat by carefully pressing the front and the back to the batting.

2. Thread

AHA – I found a wound bobbin in the project box. The thread was green which told me that I had quilted the placemat with the black side up. Not sure what thread I would have used, but I like to use piecing thread for my quilting so I dug out a spool of Gütermann 50 weight piecing thread for the top.

If you can believe it, I found a spool of thread in the thread stash that matched that bobbin in the event that I needed more (which I did).

A bobbin and a spool of Gütermann 50 weight thread to match the colors for the quilting.

3. Set up the Opal 690Q

Although the placemats aren’t huge, I still like to use the Dual Feed Foot on the Opal 690Q. Getting into good habits is a good thing. Always choose the correct foot and try to eliminate as many variables as you can – like choosing Gütermann 50 weight piecing thread for the quilting. You won’t have any difficulties and it’s a good way to keep yourself familiar with various techniques.

The more variety of things that you do on your sewing machine, the more familiar you become with the functionality of it. Quilting small things is a start to quilting larger things.

The Dual Feed Foot installed on the Opal 690Q.

Use the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to change the settings of the Opal 690Q. It’s funny how we get into habits which are sometimes hard to change. Since I spend the majority of my time sewing cotton for quilting, I used to set the Sewing Advisor to Woven Medium which would give me a stitch length of 2.5. I think 2.5 is too long of a stitch for quilting cotton, so I would change the stitch length down to 2.0 for piecing.

Somewhere, someone mentioned that they set the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to Woven Light for piecing which automatically sets the stitch length to 2.0. Hmm – why didn’t I think of that? Technically, the quilting cotton we work with is a lightweight woven material.

Now, instead of changing the stitch length for piecing, I’m changing the Exclusive Sewing Advisor. I let the Opal 690Q do what it’s supposed to. It changes the stitch length, the tension and anything else it needs to change. In today’s post and I think tomorrow, you’ll see different applications where I’ve chosen, light, medium or heavy woven.

It’s a simple process. Touch the area of the screen where it says Woven Heavy and select the appropriate setting.

It is possible to teach an old dog some new tricks. I really like this new way of working and so far, I haven’t fallen back into my old habits.

Of course, I can override that stitch length any time I need to, but using the Exclusive Sewing Advisor and selecting the appropriate weight is a much better way to work.

Since I’ll be quilting through three layers, two of them are lightweight woven, but the third layer is a dense batting. I want my stitch length to be a little bit longer than if I were piecing and I want the tension set appropriately as well. I’ve chosen Woven Heavy which provides a stitch length of 3.0. Perfect! Setting the Opal 690Q for walking foot quilting is as simple as that.

The Exclusive Sewing Advisor is set to Woven Heavy.

4. Stitch in the ditch

I could have chosen any number of ways to quilt these placemats, but since the first one was done a certain way, I want the rest to match. That means a simple line of stitch in the ditch quilting on the black side.

I started at the end of a seam at one end of the placemat and when I got to the other end, I traveled along the edge of the placemat to the next seam. I rotated the placemat and as you can see below, there’s plenty of room to do so on the Opal 690Q.

I can’t say it enough times, get very familiar with the sewing machine and the basic quilting process on something small and then move onto other things. That could be a larger project, a different kind of thread or free motion quilting. If you have a good understanding of the basics of the processes and your sewing machine, then you can do anything. It’s all about baby steps.

Lots of room on the bed of the Opal 690Q for quilting.

Just a reminder about stitching in the ditch, you want to gently pull those seams apart and stitch as close to the seam intersection as you can.

It’s hard to take pictures and hold the fabric, but I would use two hands – one on either side of the seam to gently pull the seams apart. That way, I’m also guiding the placemat, not pulling, not pushing – just guiding it.

Gently pull the seam open so you can stitch in the ditch right at the intersection.

Here’s the end result. Those stitches are pretty invisible even with the 50-weight thread on the top. The secret is matching the thread as closely as possible. If you look really close to the bottom of the photo, I think I actually missed the ditch a little bit. But you really, really have to look closely to see that.

The stitch in the ditch quilting with matching black thread is virtually invisible.

The curves are NOT the same on the front and the back. So while the quilting is stitch in the ditch on the front, the seam lines go right through the pieces on the opposite side. The matching thread makes the stitches almost disappear. Another trick – keep the threads matching and while you can see the texture, you can’t really see the stitches.

The quilting on the reverse side of the placemats.

Within about a half hour, those three placemats were quilted.

Don’t forget what I had mentioned in the post on day one. If you get everything prepped (threads, batting, presser feet, etc), it’s amazing what can be accomplished when we put our mind to the task.

Placemats are quilted and ready to be trimmed.

5. Trim

This large ruler is the best. While you can butt two rulers together to get the larger size, it’s so much faster and easier on the math side if you can use one ruler.

Trimming the placemat with a large ruler (20½” square).

Now all three placemats are ready for the reversible binding.

Placemats are trimmed and ready for the reversible binding

Before I get to the binding, it’s very important to stitch those edges together. There isn’t a lot of quilting and once I start attaching the binding, those three layers will have a tendency to shift.

I use my quilter’s awl to hold all three layers together as I stitch. See how I’ve positioned the awl in the photo below. I’m pressing the awl into the three layers to create a channel that I can stitch in. By compressing the three layers, they don’t have a chance to shift around. I let the awl slide in front of the presser foot and guide the fabric with my left hand. It’s super easy and no shifting.

Using a quilter’s awl to hold three layers together to prevent shifting

See how perfect those corners are once you tame them with the quilter’s awl. Otherwise, that top fabric would have pulled out of place.

No shifting occurred due to the three layers being secured by the quilter’s awl.

Here are the three placemats quilted, trimmed and the edges secure. They’re waiting for the reversible binding to be attached.

The edges are basted and ready for the reversible binding to be attached.

6. Reversible binding

The reversible binding is a single fold binding with about a half inch width on both sides. Once you get the concept, you can play around with that width.

Select the two fabrics you want to use and cut 1¼” strips of both of the fabrics. Cut the length (for each of the fabrics) that you require to go around your quilt or in this case, the three placemats.

While the binding had been sewn onto the finished placemat, I had to make the binding for the remaining three placemats.

Binding strips cut at 1¼” for one side of the reversible binding.

For each of the two colors, join the binding strips as you would with regular binding. Use a diagonal seam. Trim the seams on the joins and press those joins open.

Join the binding strips with a diagonal seam.

With right sides together, join the two strips together using a ¼” seam allowance. Make sure the joins are not going to be side by side.

Press the seam open. Normally, I don’t press from the underside of the work, but in this case, you have no choice.

Press the center seam open.

To make sure that everything was pressed properly, I also gave the long binding strip a press from the front.

Press the seam from the front to make sure that the seam is well pressed with no tucks.

Next up is to attach the binding to the placemat in the exact same way that you would attach a double fold binding. If you’re not sure how to do that, check my post, Binding a Quilt, to see how to start, turn a corner so you get a miter and how to make the final join. Remember the width of this binding is 2″ so that’s how much you allow for the overlap on the final join.

Ensure that you match the side of the binding to the side of the placemat. I sewed the black edge of the binding to the black side of the placemat. You are only stitching through a single layer of binding.

Watch the seam allowance. It’s somewhere between ⅜” and ½”. I would test it before you get going too far. It’s a much wider seam than you would normally take. You want that long seam to run right along the edge of the placemat. TEST!

Here’s what the placemats look like with the binding stitched on.

The reversible binding is stitched to the placemats.

I carefully pressed the binding away from the placemat, tucking the iron into each of the corners. If the corners were sewn on properly, the binding creates a beautifully mitered corner without much assistance.

Press the binding away from the placemat.

Flip the placemat over and fold in the raw edge. The raw edge should fold right up to the raw edge of the placemat and then fold over the stitching and pin in place. Using a matching thread, hand stitch the folded edge in place.

This was a great opportunity to escape to the backyard with my audiobook. I got the edges all stitched down while I listened to a couple of chapters in the book.

The binding has been folded to the other side and pinned in place, ready for hand stitching

VOILA! Here’s the finished set of four placemats.

A set of four completely reversible placemats

Here’s the thing – in total, it took about three hours (except for the hand stitching) to quilt the placemats, make and attach the binding. So why did they languish in a box for years?

It’s time to start pulling out those projects and evaluate them. Get rid of or keep your UFOs (and if you keep – that means you have to finish it!). As I mentioned, these small items are great to learn or revisit some new techniques. It’s also a great way to play around with your sewing machine so you can really appreciate what it can do for you. I could have used that small project to try a new kind of thread or some free motion.

I love using the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q to sew pretty much anything. So far, it hasn’t complained about anything that I’ve thrown at it. But what I really love is the quality of the stitches – whether it’s piecing or quilting, the quality is amazing (both the stitch definition and the tension). That’s worth a lot knowing that whatever I touch will be well constructed.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the results of the marathon. How much did I actually get done with those five bobbins and what does the bobbin area of the sewing machine look like?

Be sure to come back and check that out.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: 7 tips to speed up the quilting process

Go to part 5: Maximizing on the features of the Opal 690Q to wrap up the sewing marathon

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Cathie Scanlon August 11, 2018 - 2:04 am
Your information on how to do the reversible binding was very good. What a great post!
Elaine Theriault August 11, 2018 - 6:26 am
Cathie -- so glad you found the information useful. Thanks for following along on QUILTsocial. Elaine
Yvonne Mosley August 5, 2018 - 8:59 pm
Thanks so much for the wonderful information. So much to soak in to our sewing mental minds!
Jo August 5, 2018 - 12:11 pm
Great tutorial, very helpful for newbies, will be recommending it!
Pauline Martin August 3, 2018 - 11:39 pm
Very well explained. Will try this method on my next quilt.
Delaine August 3, 2018 - 8:03 am
Thank you for this awesome tutorial on reversible binding. I can't wait to try it!
Karen Addleman August 2, 2018 - 9:02 am
Great tutorial on reversible binding.
Linda Williamson August 2, 2018 - 6:46 am
Thanks for the great tutorial.
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