Monday, March 2, 2015

My Favorite Machine Binding Method

Up front, this method is not for show or competition quilts.  This new binding method is for cuddle up on the couch and toss in the washer 500 times quilts, drag around the house quilts, Superman cape quilts, and let's not forget the classic Fort Quilt which we all know is susceptible to clothes pins and chair backs.  Basically, this is a quilt for real life.

I've been using Steam-a-Seam for zipper insertion for a long time.  Sunni Standing demonstrated this technique in her Craftsy class, Mastering Zipper Techniques.  If you haven't taken this class you absolutely should.  It will change your world about zippers and it's free.  Now what's better than that - besides the binding method I'm fixing to show you?  (Yes, I'm from Texas - deal with the lingo).  Once I tried using SAS vs. pins, I never went back.  The other day a light bulb went off in my head.  "Hey, what if I used SAS to hold my binding in place instead of clips or pins?"  Hmmmm  And more than just the superior SAS method, there's a Magic Sewing Surprise included in this post too!  The images below are from a FMQ sample I've been using to practice on my Lizzie so please ignore the wonky designs.  It's not her, it's me.  And I apologize right off that the front and back of this sample quilt sandwich are the same fabric.  I hope it's not too confusing and I'll try to let you know which side is which along the way.

First, iron your binding strip in half; mine is 2.5" so it's 1 3/4" folded.  On the right side of the quilt, place the raw edge of the binding strip against the raw edge of the quilt with the folded edge toward the middle of the quilt.
Then stitch the binding to the top of the quilt using your favorite seam allowance.  I used a 1/4" seam here.

I like to press my binding to the outside after sewing so I get a nice clean seam on the front side of the quilt.  Do you love my ironing board cover?  I totally made that. 

I used Steam-a-Seam Light.  Cut strips of the SAS the same width of your seam allowance that you used to sew on the binding.

I like to cut a bunch of strips ahead of time so it's quicker to place them.

Then following the SAS directions, carefully pull off the outer paper, and on the backside of the quilt, place the SAS in the seam allowance being careful not to extend the product outside the stitch line.  Press it on with your fingers.

And pull off the outer paper strip.

Now, VERY CAREFULLY fold the binding over so it lands just outside the stitching line by no more than 1/8".  I like to follow my fingers with the iron.  Don't burn yourself!

And TA-DA!!  Look at this perfectly "bound" binding!  Y'all, this is the BACK of the binding where I just used SAS.  It's totally flat and you can easily make pretty precise mitered corners.

Now for the Sewing Magic surprise I promised.  I have to admit, I didn't think of this.  I took a Craftsy class for The Machine Embroidered Quilt by Eileen Roche (can you tell I'm addicted to Craftsy just a tiny bit?) and she mentioned doing passing.  Seriously, she mentioned it in passing.  Like it was no big deal and blah blah whatever.  But when she said it, I was like DING!

What you need is the Blindstitch Foot for your machine and you need the kind that has a little flange fin thingy on the bottom of it.  I have a Brother machine but this foot will fit any low shank machine with a drop foot feature.  (They just don't advertise it that way so sellers are not liable, but my friends with a Singer and Janome use it too).  If you don't have this foot, or can't use it, you can still stitch-in- the-ditch (STID) without it.

Inside of this foot is a little piece of metal that has a groove in it that bumps out to the right. 

On the front of the quilt, you want to position the lower fin of the foot exactly on the seam and start your needle on the left (inside) side of the little groove.  This groove will push the binding over just a hair and consequently will produce a beautiful stitch-in-the-ditch.

Go slowly to make sure the needle doesn't decide to take a detour to the right of the groove.  If it does, no biggie, just give the quilt a tiny tug to the right and the needle will go back to the left of the groove.  When you're finished, here's what the front of the binding will look like.  Seriously, is that perfect or what?  Yes, I mean the binding, not my FMQ with a flat (or two).

And here's the back.  Can you believe this???

This was my first attempt on a real quilt.  Below, the purple/pink/purple is the front of the quilt.

Here's the back.

Here's a mitered corner and you can tell I should have taken another stitch or two toward the join. Oh well, live and learn.  You can see over on the right side of the image where I wasn't paying attention and the fin drifted off to the right a bit while I was STID.  But even so, it's really no big deal for a quilt that will probably be used to tote dolls or drag the dog around.  Pay no attention to my crappy  FMQ in the purple border.  Me and Lizzie are still getting acquainted.  Again, it's me, not her.

Well there it is!  Hope you try this and I hope you are like me and make it your new favorite machine binding method.