teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Sunday 24 July 2016

Joining Binding Strips & Matching Patterns [Tutorial]

Binding a quilt recently I was using a super cute penguin fabric and I wanted the penguins lined up perfectly around the bound edge, I didn't want them disappearing off at wonky angles.  That's easy enough to achieve, simply cut the binding strips along the print design rather than with the grain...  

...then I realised I'd also want the penguins to continue in sequence, even across my binding strip joins - I didn't want a sudden large penguin gap or a non-existent gap with two penguins accidentally holding flippers.

As I started to prep the binding I grabbed my phone so I could share pics with you of how I achieved this.  I was working with a flannel binding so the fabric has plenty give, especially once I've folded it on the bias so the results aren't as accurate as they can be with 100% cotton but you'll still see how good the results can be.

Joining Binding Strips & Matching Patterns [Tutorial]

Cutting The Strips
I cut my strips wider than I would normally cut them - 3" instead of 2-1/2".  This gives me some leeway to trim the binding back to 2-1/2" after I've joined all the strips.  The penguins were only tiny so 1/2" wiggle room was plenty - if you're uncertain and have fabric to spare you may want to cut your strips a little wider still the first time you try this method.  I also made sure I fussy cut each strip so the pattern has the same placement on each strip - 4 penguins cut along the bottom of their feet and the top of their hat.

Gluing The Strips
Fold a diagonal line from top to bottom of a binding strip - the angle isn't important but it should be a straight diagonal line reaching from the top edge of the binding strip to the bottom.  I've folded my diagonal directly through the centre of the penguins (see strip below left) this will allow me to match the penguins more easily - if I put the diagonal through the red section with no print design I'd make life more difficult for myself having to ensure the red section retained it's correct width as I joined the strips.

Using washable glue stick I put a line of glue along the back edge of the diagonal fold.

I then placed the diagonally folded strip directly on top of the next binding strip, matching the penguins as perfectly as possible.  You're working with a diagonal bias and there's give/stretch to the edge so be careful not to stretch the print design.  As I mentioned previously this is flannel and it will be much easier to keep the print accurate with 100% cotton.

Don't panic if you're not happy with your match - it's only washable glue stick, you can peel it apart and try again.  Now turn to the back and you can open up your diagonal fold to reveal the fold line.

Sewing The Strips
Sew directly along this line to secure your binding join.

Did You Know?
The Truth About Joining Binding Strips
This is where I can make a huge revelation to you about joining binding strips - this one always shocks students in my classes.  

How long do you spend placing your binding strips carefully at right angles to each other before you sew them across the diagonal?  Did you know you don't need them to be at right angles to get a perfect join?

A perfect join lies in where you place the stitches when you sew the diagonal, nothing at all to do with the angle of the strips to each other.  You need to sew the line across the 2 points where the fabrics cross - the point at the top and the point at the bottom, wherever they may be and that's all there is to it.

Regardless of the fabric angles - when you sew that diagonal and lift the upper fabric back this is how it'll look

I've lightly pressed the seam open.

Trimming & Opening The Seams
Turn to the back again and trim away to a 1/4" seam.

You can now peel your seam open again - at the moment it's glued together but you don't want to leave it like as it's going to add too much bulk to your binding that way.  Remember it's only water-based glue stick so it will peel apart even when it's dry.  Yes, you can see the glue on the now open seam but it's dry, I've even lightly pressed that seam open too.  As soon as the quilt has it's first wash that glue will be completely gone and no-one will ever know it was there.

If there's any glue visible on the outside of your binding and you can't bear to wait until the quilt is washed for it to disappear then you can gently loosen it with a damp toothbrush.

Folding The Binding
Next, I pressed the binding in half - I didn't press the fabric edge to edge instead I chose a point on the penguin design and made sure I continued to fold and press the binding at the same point along the full length of the binding.

Trimming The Binding
Once the full binding length was pressed in 'half' I trimmed the open edge of the folded binding to 1-1/4" (half of 2-1/2")

Finally, attach the prepared binding using your preferred method. 

The Finished Quilt
This is how it looks on the front of the quilt...

...and this is how it looks on the back.

Did you spot that the last two photos have got binding strip joins in them?  Go back and take another look,

I've zoomed in closer than my phone camera wanted me to take this close up of a binding join - this one is to the right of the penguin.

The finished quilt.  If you'd like to know how to make my Hand Tied Snuggle Quilt (47" x 47") pop back tomorrow when I'll be sharing the free pattern here on the blog.

and that's all there is to it - probably much easier than you thought and how much time will you save now you don't have to worry about the angle you're joining your binding strips at?!!!

Joining Binding Strips & Matching Patterns [Tutorial]

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  1. Amazing~they even matched on the seam! Well done Chris, thanks for the tutorial. What a cute, snuggly quilt!

  2. Yet another clever tutorial. Thanks for sharing your brilliance, Chris.

  3. You are just full of lots of helpful info lately. I've never had a need to do something like this but who knows what the future will bring. If I do now I know how to handle it. Thank you!

  4. Great method! Love your quilt too!

  5. such a cute quilt. thanks so much for the great tips

  6. such a cute quilt. thanks so much for the great tips

  7. This is a great tutorial, Chrissie. Like most of your students, I never knew that the strips don't need to be at right angles to get a perfect join. You learns something new everyday! Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Clever, thank you for sharing this tutorial at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!

  9. Very nice pattern, I love making blankets!


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