Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WIP: Lessons Learned for Better Binding

In my July 17th WIP post I estimated 5 hours to hand sew the binding onto the edges of my 72" x 72" Sunny Spring Frost. I decided to use those hours as a learning opportunity. I tried several hand-stitching approaches along this quilt edge, determined to find out what is the "right" way. I had always done the ladder stitch on my quilts, rather than a blind stitch, thinking the ladder stitch was the less visible.

The diagram below is excerpted from a binding basics tutorial posted by Connecting Threads and compares ladder and blind stitching.

After watching a U-tube tutorial by TheCraftyGemini on how to hand sew binding to back of quilt, I learned that the blind stitch holds the binding better without gapping. I confirmed this on my quilt.

I started out with the ladder stitch as was my norm before watching the tutorial. Piercing my batik binding in two places, in and out, about 1/4" apart along the fold was problematic. Along the first edge of my quilt I snapped two needles in half because of the pressure I was putting on each to weave in and out along that stiff fold line. I switched to the blind stitch and snapped a third needle. At this rate, I did not want to risk snapping my last needle when the quilt shop was closed and I could not get more. Also, at $7 for 6 Clover black plated armor piercing needles, I had to make some adjustments.

What wound up working best was to tweak my approach on that blind stitch a bit. I took that little tuck stitch in the binding at right angles to the fold instead of along it. By rolling the binding back a bit, I biased that tuck a tad so that the entry point was offset to the underside of the binding fold and the exit point on the fold. I did wind up making two motions, one stitch traveling parallel to the quilt/binding edge into the backing and one at right angles to it into the fold of the binding, drawing the eye of the needle completely through on each.  Although I used two finger motions of the needle to take the stitches, I used only one long arm motion to draw the thread taut. I do not understand why the direction rotation worked when piercing the binding.  Could it possibly be the difference between cross-grain and along-the-grain of my tightly woven batik binding? My stitches are not invisible but I realized it is not so much the thread I was noticing, but rather dents in the stiff batik fabric where the stitches were. I have expectations that as the quilt is washed and the fabric softens, these dents will ease out. The upper portion of the photo shows the binding from the right side of the quilt and the lower portion of the photo shows the binding from the back side of the quilt.

Here is one block of Sunny Spring Frost.

And here is the complete quilt, draped over my upstairs railing. Usually I have my husband hold up my finished quilt for an outdoor picture in our backyard where the lighting is better. Even though he is tall enough at 6'3" to hold it high, he could not manage the 6' width while synchronizing my picture taking with the breeze. Since I did not get a ladder out for the following photo, there is a bit of parallax in the picture. Oh, well.  It really is square. And it is finished!

After a long project I like to sneak in a short, quick one to do. Here are some fireman fabrics for a pillowcase for my son-in-law. I auditioned a navy and an amber-orange  for the accent stripe. The navy is safer and more sedate. 

But, even though it does not contrast as much with the red fire hose fabric, I think I am going to go with the amber-orange dots. It is more fun and picks up the color in the roof lights of the fire trucks.

Completed projects since 7/17/13 WIP post:
  1. Completion photos for Color Play of the Day posted (see July 19, 2013)
  2. Sunny Spring Frost - completed this morning
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Grinch quilt (May 22,2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  2. Jack O'Lantern Trio (February 2, 2013 post) - awaiting FMQ
  3. Chicken quilt - awaiting FMQ
  4. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  5. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 7/17/13 WIP post:  
  1. Fire truck pillowcase
Stats since last WIP:
     Completed  projects - 2
     Currently in progress - 5 just in waiting
     New projects - 1 

I am off to check other folk's progress this week at:


  1. YES! to the amber orange polka dots. That is an inspired color choice, for sure.

    And wow! to the beautiful quilt, hanging over your upstairs banister. I always find it challenge to photograph the bigger quilts, but I actually think you've found a good solution. It is very beautiful, and even though it has a lot going on via all the different piecing, it is a calming, organized quilt (again--with inspired color choices). Well done!

    Elizabeth E.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. I did go with the orange dots. I have two other pillowcases cut out to sew and will do a post on their completions.

  2. Sunny Spring Frost looks just beautiful! Well done on a big finish - it's lovely!

    1. Thank you! I just realized, if I do not put a Sunny Spring Frost on the label, know will ever know what I named the quilt. Guess it is only 99.99% done. ;•)

  3. Orange please! You are right about it picking up the detail of the fire engine. I like the other one very much too, though! I understand it is hard to choose! That fabric is awesome!
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