Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tool

I have a confession:  I hate binding my quilts!  I have at least a half-dozen quilts that are quilted but not bound.  The Front Range Modern Quilt Guild gave away the neatest tool as a door prize at our last meeting.  The Binding Tool.  Yes, I have two.  Since I didn't win the door prize, I bought the white one without remembering I already had the blue one.  Innocent-looking little thing, isn't it?

Well, let me tell you.  This tool is a Honey Badger.  That's right, a Honey Badger.  'cuz it don't care.  It don't give a sh...

      OK, OK.  Actually, once I watched the video from Missouri Star Quilting Company, I am convinced it might be a really clever little tool.

Here's how to win over the Honey Badger:

First, prepare your binding fabric.  I usually cut mine 2 1/2" wide, or 2 1/4" if I'm using a really thin batting.  Join the binding strips using a 45 degree angle to minimize bulk.  Place the strips crosswise to each other and sew edge to edge, like this:

 Then trim the seams and press the binding right sides together lengthwise.

It isn't necessary to trim the edges of your "quilt sandwich," but I do because it makes it easier to handle at the machine.  Make two marks along one edge of your quilt sandwich, 12" apart.  Hey, guess what.  They mean 12" exactly!  Otherwise your binding won't meet at the ends.  (Thanks for the tip, Melissa!)  

With the bulk of your quilt away from you, the mark on the left is where you will start attaching your binding.  Leave a "tail" of binding about 8-10" long, like this:
And start sewing with a 1/4" seam.  To make a nice corner, stop sewing exactly 1/4" from the corner. 

  I back-stitch at an approximate 45 degree angle away from the last stitch, like this:

Then fold the binding to the right, forming a 45 degree angle.  The raw edges of the binding will be parallel to the raw edges of the quilt sandwich, like this:

 Here I've put a white piece of paper under the binding so you can see the angle better:

Next, bring the binding back over the 45 degree fold, making a 90 degree fold even with the raw edges of the already-sewn-down binding, like this:

Start stitching right at the fold and continue around your quilt.  Form your nice corners three more times, until you get to the second mark you made (remember, it's 12" from where you started sewing).

Now we'll use our "Binding Tool" to form a 45 degree seam that joins both ends of the binding.

The binding tool has a "warning" printed on it:  PRINTED SIDE ALWAYS UP!  Remember that as you place the tool and cut the ends off the binding.

Place the tool PRINTED SIDE UP with the straight end against the stitches where you started attaching the binding, like this:

See that black vertical line at the right hand side of the tool?  Make a mark on your binding even with that line.

Repeat for the right hand side, be sure the printed side of the tool is right side up!

Next we will  cut off the ends of the binding to form 45 degree angles, right hand side first:

The "Mark Here" vertical line on the tool aligns with the mark you made on your binding.  That white chalk line shows where the cut will be (it's moved to the right so you can see it).  Be sure to cut off the little dog ear at the corner!

Now the left side.  This is why I called it a Honey Badger.  When you cut the right hand side, the "Mark Here" line is aligned with the mark made on the binding.

When you cut the left hand side, align the tip of the tool to the left of your vertical mark.

In their defense, the designers DID put a tiny "R" and"L" on the tool,  But the directions on the tool are scanty, and I didn't understand how important those little letters were until I watched the video!  Cut the left side of the binding along the angled end of the tool, remember to cut off the dog ear!

Whew!  The hard part is over.  Next, we'll align the cut edges of the binding, right sides together:

And stitch a 1/4" seam:

Now fold the binding right sides together and continue stitching the binding to the quilt:
You won't be able to tell where your binding begins and ends! It will be just another diagonal seam, same as when you joined the binding strips together.

I'll show you how I finish the binding in the next post, because I had just enough thread to attach the binding:

Besides, now we both need a cuppa and a bit of a lie down to recover.


  1. I hated bindings too, so I bought this tool when MSQC had a tutorial on it. I loved it the first time I used it. The problem is, I don't finish many quilts and forget how to use it, so I literally have to watch the video every single time. It doesn't feel much like help anymore if I have to go get my laptop, search for the video and watch it... so the last couple I just "winged it". I know it's helpful if I could just remember the stupid Honey Badger part!!! I am glad to know I am not the only one that finds it unclear.

    1. I agree--everytime I use the binding tool I have to watch Jenny's tutorial. I'm going to print off these instructions as it beats watching the video and I found the tool didn't work on the faux piping technique.

  2. I watched the video, caught the part about lining one side up on the line and the other side up on the tip, and cut with confidence.
    And I came up about an inch short.
    Was. Not. Happy.
    Turns out, the Honey Badger point for me was the 'leave a 12" gap between where you start and where you end." I thought it was a suggestion... :)
    SO...there's a bit of an improv chunk in my binding. :) C'est la vie.

  3. I love binding quilts! If you lived near me I'd do it for you for a reasonable fee or a favor. :)

    I bind that way, but without the tool, I can see how that would make it so much easier! I'll be looking for one.

  4. I love binding too! I hate quilting - we could do a trade lol!

  5. I tried this tool so many times and wasn't as successful with it as I was using a technique where the ends overlap by the width of the binding. Cut them. Meaning if you use 2 1/2 inch binding they over lap by 2 1/2 inches. Then turn to a right angle to each other and sew your diagonal line.
    I may give the binding tool one more try after reading your nice little tute on it. Thanks!

  6. This is great! But did you ever do the other post showing how to finish the binding?! I've looked but either I'm blind and it's right in front of me....or it isn't there. Help?!

  7. Melissa, sorry I have to reply here on the post -- hope you see it. Not long after this post, I learned how to do "Susie's Magic Binding." Now I still use the Binding Tool, but I attach my binding to the back of the quilt. Go here to see how:

  8. I love this tool also and perfect every time. At first watched the video to remember the turn and where to cut the right side; but now it is second nature. Will practice with the faux piping ones now on some practice quilting. Thanks

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  10. I have this binding tool in 2 different sizes. I just shared your post with a quilting group on Facebook. This tutorial is something I think could be printed out and kept at the cutting table, so you can follow along step by step. Thanks for writing one so very clear. (Oh, by the way, I am just in love with your binding with a flange tutorial..and found myself in a class at the IQF - Houston last fall and they were teaching it!)

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  13. I love my Binder Tool. Had a little matching problem to start with but after carefully watching the you-tube video I caught on just fin

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