Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Tutorial: A New Binding

To celebrate Worldwide Quilting Day on March 21, Around the Block Quilt Shop in Cheyenne offered several demos. 

Friend Susan and I snuck away from the Downton Abbey Retreat to learn a new binding technique I'm calling "Jean's Genius Binding." If you're a fan of Susie's Magic Binding, you're going to love this one!

Warning: This is an extremely photo-heavy post! If your internet connection is slow, you may want to launch this post, then go refill your coffee cup!

The main difference between SMB and JGB is that JGB is made with just one strip of fabric. Interested? Here's how to make it.

What You'll Need:

  1. Binding Fabric
  2. 16-ply pearl cotton OR bakers twine (Jean gets hers from ULINE)
  3. Either wash-away thread OR thread that matches the binding fabric (You can get wash-away bobbin thread from Superior Threads)
  4. A "Stitch in the Ditch" foot for your model of sewing machine. (Absolutely necessary! I found one for both my Viking and my Janome. Check with your dealer.)

Prepare the Binding

  1. Cut the binding fabric to 2.5" wide and stitch short ends together to total the length of the perimeter of your quilt.
  2. Press binding wrong sides together and raw edges flush.
  3. Open out and zig zag stitch twine in center of wrong side of the binding, using the pressed line as a guide. Widen and lengthen the zig zag stitch a bit.
  4. Tip: Wash-away thread is spendy. You may want to use it only in the bobbin. The top thread will be inside the binding and won't show after you wash away the bobbin thread.

Continue zig zag stitching the twine the entire length of the binding. Don't worry if you occasionally catch the twine in your zig zag stitches.

Attach the Binding

Re-fold the binding wrong sides together and attach to the top side of the quilt. Be sure to leave an unstitched "tail" of about 10-12" so you can join the ends of the binding.

I experimented with the width of my seam by stitching a couple of inches, then removing it from the machine and turning the binding to the wrong side. I want the fold with cording inside to be just beyond the stitching line.

On my Viking Opal, the stitch is to the right of center at setting 2.0. That way, I can align the edge of the presser foot with the raw edges of the quilt.

To make a nice mitered 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 folded edge.

Continue stitching and making mitered corners until you get to about 10-12" from where the binding begins.

Connect the Ends

Bring the unstitched ends of the binding together and fold back on itself, leaving a 1/4" gap.

Finger press to mark the fold line.

Fold the end closest to you out to the right.

Place the top end over the bottom, matching the fold of the top end with the pressed fold line on the bottom end.

Open out the top end, holding both ends carefully so the fold lines remain met. Pin, matching the center of the binding and the fold lines.

Make a pencil line across the binding from the "v" at the beginning to the "v" at the opposite side.

This is your stitching line, stitch across this line. Hint: You may choose to lengthen your stitch length for a "test sew" the first time.

Test to be certain the unstitched binding fits smoothly.

Trim the seam and finger press it open.

Stitch down the remaining binding. Press binding away from the top of the quilt.

The "Genius" Part

Attach the "stitch in the ditch" foot to your sewing machine.  Wrap the binding to the wrong side of the quilt. You may choose to pin the binding in place, I do not. I just continue folding about 6-10" of binding to the wrong side as I stitch around.

Lower the presser foot so the SITD foot guide falls between the cording inside the binding (and now on the back side of the quilt) and the stitched edge of the binding. The SITD guide will ensure your stitching is perfectly "in the ditch."

Stop stitching about 6-8" inches from the corner. Leave the quilt on the machine and trim away a bit of the batting and backing, to reduce bulk in the corner.

Look at the direction of the mitered corner on the top side of the quilt: 

You want to turn the miter on the back side the opposite direction of the miter on the top. Miter just as you did on the top, and pin in place.

Continue stitching to the corner and slow down as you approach the corner.  The guide on the SITD foot will ride up on the perpendicular edge of the binding. Stop stitching exactly in the corner, turn and continue stitching.

Here is what the stitching looks like on both top and back of the quilt. Notice the zig zag stitching is still visible -- if I had used wash-away bobbin thread, it would disappear when the quilt is washed.

You may choose to match the top thread either to the border fabric or the binding fabric. I matched the binding fabric, so if I accidentally stitched a few stitches actually on the binding, it wouldn't be noticeable. Thanks to the SITD foot, the stitching is so close to the binding it virtually disappears.

Fini! Here's a shot of the finished quilt:

Which do you prefer? Susie's Magic Binding, or 
Jean's Genius Binding?

From the desk of your auntmartisignature


  1. I'll try Jean's Genius Binding, once I've tracked down a stitch in the ditch foot. I'd never heard of it, so thank you for showing it. Now I'm off to the Bernina site to look for one.

    1. Marly, Jean demo'd this on a Bernina, so I know they make a SITD foot!

  2. Great binding Marti... I must try to do it in my next quilt.

  3. I have the foot...all I need now is the time and a quilt to bind.....thanks Marti...I'll certainly give this a try.

  4. Very clever--thank you for sharing it with us (and all those helpful photos). I would be tempted to try it so that the corded edge ends up on the front of the quilt.

  5. I LOVE photo heavy posts!!! Thank you for sharing this...I intend to try it some day when I have a sewing machine again! LOL I've not tried either way of binding, so I cannot give an option on which I prefer...but shall try some day...when I have my machine again! ;)

  6. This certainly looks worth a try. I'd love to have more assurances of not having the binding slip away from my stitch, and this may well fix that problem.

  7. SMB is fantastic so I can only imagine this will be good too. You do amazing tuts! Thanks


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