28 October, 2008

Multi-Pieced Binding Tutorial

In reality, almost all bindings are pieced - unless you are doing a miniature or baby quilt. I wanted to offer you my technique (far from being unique) for a pieced binding and inspire you to do some multi-fabric bindings to finish your quilts.

Binding on a quilt is like hair. A bad haircut can ruin an incredible outfit, making your quilt look like the equivalent of an 80s yearbook photo. Okay, the clothes weren't great then either. But the right haircut will make you look just so fabulous, even if you are wearing two pairs of slouchy socks and a sweater tied over your shoulders.

Multi-fabric bindings aren't right for every quilt, but they are right for so many. Scrappy quilts, fat-quarter quilts, charm quilts, stack and whacks, and generally any quilt that uses more than 6-8 fabrics are prime candidates for multi-fabric bindings. Even a traditionally pieced quilt can be jazzed up with a multi-fabric binding. Generally, I take some of the fabrics that are used in the quilt, cut random length strips, sew them together, and attach to the quilt. Sometimes I get more formal and do the corners, for example, in one colour and the rest of the length in another.

A couple of notes on my technique. This is not for bias-cut bindings. A bias binding has its place (although it is rare on a quilt I make), but mixing bias cut and straight-grain cut fabric in the binding will just create a complicated mess for you. Secondly, this creates a double thickness of fabric on the edge of your quilt, a double-fold binding. You will not notice a difference, but it provides some added strength for wear and tear.

Here's how I do it.

1. Cut your strips of fabric. The length of the strip will depend on the size of the quilt. To maximize the effect you want at least 2 or 3 fabrics per side. My go-to width of binding strip is 2 and 3/4 inches. This gives a broad enough binding that wraps around the edge of the quilt easily.

*Do not use bias cut fabric*

2. Iron your strips in half lengthwise.
3. Now it is time to join all your strips. Open up the fabric, place your two fabric ends, right sides together, at right angles to each other.
Pin close to the top left corner and bottom right corner.
Draw a line from the outside corner to the outside corner. Do not draw your line from the top left corner to the inside corner, that won't get you anywhere but two randomly sewn together strips. Sew along your line.
After a few tries you won't need to draw the line. Just sew one strip to the other and so on.
The key is to not get your strips twisted.
4. Once all your strips are sewn together cut off the extra fabric triangle. Press the seams to one side. Repress the strips in half where two strips meet.
5. Attach your binding in your preferred method. With this method I sew the binding on my quilt, one side at a time. Each corner is mitred. Then I fold over the binding and sew down by hand, covering the sewn line.

It will be out of order, but the next tutorial will be on squaring up a quilt. Then I will tackle the way I mitre binding corners (I don't do continuous bindings), hand sewing the binding down, and creating a hanging sleeve.


Jessica said...

I've never done a binding with a variety of fabrics, but now I have the itch! I was just hand-stitching a binding this weekend thinking how perfect it made the quilt look.e

Jackie Russell said...

I like the look of the multi-piece binding. Thanks for the tutorial I might try that on a quilt I'm working on now.

jacquie said...

i'm looking forward to the squaring up lesson...i need that!

Amanda Jean said...

I LOVE pieced binding. your fabrics are so very fabulous!!!

Shanna said...

I have done my binding using just one type of fabric...now I am excited to try the multi-fabric option!! Thank you for the tutorial! The colors are amazing as well!

Susana Neiger said...

I don't usually make multi-colored bindings, but, now that you mention it, I DO always piece my bindings ... so, why not go with multi-colored?! Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I must be really stupid. The photos make this look like joining bias strips...except this is not a bias strip. So how to a bunch of ribbons joined at right angles to each other make up a binding? Please add pictures! Help.

Tasty Destination said...

I love the dress fabrics. Just might have to make one this weekend. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly Cain said...


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