Quilting Hints

  Binding Your Quilt
  • Determine your binding style or preference or what you feel will complement your quilt best before cutting the binding. It isn't necessary to always use the same binding width.
  • Stitch your binding to your quilt BEFORE trimming off the excess backing and binding.  It provides stability to the edge of your quilt and helps prevent stretching as you stitch on you binding.  The batting should completely fill the binding. Your binding will wear longer. If you trim after attaching the binding you can fold the binding to the backside and determine if trimming at the edge will fill your binding or you need to trim an 1/8 or 1/4 away from the edge to fill it. The type of batting you have used will affect how much or little excess you need to create a full binding.
  • It is not necessary to make bias binding unless the edges of your quilt are curved.
  • To determine the length of binding needed use the following formula. 2 times the length + 2 times the width. Add an additional 15 - 20 inches to the circumference of your quilt to allow for making mitered corners and to allow room for stitching the two ends of your binding together.
  • The ends of your binding should be joined together with a 1/4 inch diagonal seams all going in the same direction. If you always do it the same way you can be confident this will happen. Lay one strip of the binding right side up horizontally in front of you with the excess to your left. Take the next strip wrong side up (placing right sides together) vertically in front of you. Have the selvage extend over the other strip so it will all be cut off when you trim the 1/4 inch. Always keep what you have stitched right side up and to your left. Always keep the piece you are adding on wrong side up and vertical in front of you.
  • Press the seams open then clip off all the little dog ears. Then carefully press the binding in half lengthwise.
  • If your quilt does not have borders you will only want the binding stitched 1/4 inch from the edge then folded to the back so you do not lose any of your block design.
  • If your quilt has borders and you have compensated for it by making the binding wider you can take a deeper seam when attaching the binding to give a different look to your quilt, especially if the binding is a different color.
  • Do a trial run of your binding by laying it around your quilt top leaving 5-6 inches loose and starting about 1/3 of the way down from a corner. Be sure your binding seams do NOT align with any of the corners. It will add excess bulk and you will not be able to get nice mitered corners. If your seams are at a corner start the binding in a different place and try again.
  • I like the diagrams and instructions for attaching your binding on this web page http:/www.heatherbaileydesign.com/HB_QuiltBinding.pdf   That said, Heather does tell you to stop stitching 1/4 of an inch from the edge which is fine if you want 1/4 inch binding. If you want your binding wider stop stitching the same width as your seam allowance from the corner. If you prefer we can attach your binding for you at the cost listed on the pricing page.

  • Approximate amount of binding from 1 yard of squared fabric.
    2 1/4" strips 2 1/2" strips 2 3/4" strips 3" strips
    16 strips 14 strips 13 strips 12 strips
    640" of binding 560" of binding 520" of binding 480" of binding
Adding Borders that Fit and Stay Flat
 An easy mistake to make when adding borders is to  cut a strip of fabric longer than the length or the width of your quilt top and start stitching it on and simply cut off the excess when you reach the end.  This will result in wavy borders and a quilt that is not square.
The following is the best method to achieve great looking borders.
  1. Measure across your quilt from side to side or top to bottom depending on where you want to start adding borders.  Measure in three different places, 4-6 inches in from both edges and across the center. Write down all three measurements and add them together. Divide the total by 3 (finding the average measurement) 
  2. Cut the two borders (either for the top and bottom or sides) the length of the average measurement calculated in Step One and whatever width you desire.
  3. Find the center of the edge by folding your top in half and marking with a pin.
  4. Divide the quilt top into quarters by bringing the edge in to the center pin and mark this fold with a pin. Do the same with the other edge so that you now have 3 pins equally dividing the edge of the quilt.  Divide the top or side border in quarters using this same method.
  5. Pin the border right sides together to the side, top or bottom of the quilt matching the pins. FINISH PINNING THE BORDER(S) TO THE QUILT aligning the edges and easing either the quilt or the border so the fit each other using LOTS of pins.
HINT ... I know there are many times when we can work on our quilts without pinning seams but this is not the place to take shortcuts if you want your borders to lay flat instead of creating waves or pleats while they are being quilted.
  1. When you are ready to do the opposite edges of your quilt be certain to take all three measurements including the borders you have just stitched on and find the average measurement.
  2. Follow the previous instructions in steps 3 through 5.
  3. Follow these directions for each additional border you add to your quilt for great borders that stay flat!
Constructing your Quilt Back

Calculating the fabric you will need:
  1. Allow for the possibility of losing 1 to 3 inches in fabric length in the squaring process. 
  2. Include an additional 12 inches in length and width for attaching to the long arm.
  3. Allow for the inches you will lose when you remove the selvage edge.
  4. Some selvages are considerably wider than others. 
  5. Remember you will lose 1 inch for each seam needed.
  6. If you prewashed the fabrics in your quilt top you will want to prewash your backing fabric so the shrinkage when you wash your finished quilt will be the same.  Be sure to allow for shrinkage of the backing fabric when you calculate how much you need.  Washed fabric should be pressed before measuring being careful not to stretch or distort the fabric.
  7. It may be useful to do a price comparison between using 45 inch fabric and 108 inch wide backing fabric.
  1.  If you are using Batik fabric for the backing you should check the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Many require washing in very warm to hot water with a product like Synthrapol to remove execess dye and wax which may be used in the dying process.
  3. Press after washing being careful not to stretch or distort the fabric.

 Seaming the Backing:

  1. Press the fabric to remove wrinkles. This allows you to achieve accurate measuring and smooth seaming.
  2. Remove the selvage edge.
  3. Seams may be vertical or horizontal whichever provides better use of the fabric.
  4. Stitch with 1/2 inch seam allowance.
  5. Press the seam to one side rather than pressing open as this gives greater strength to the seam(s). If you are using very heavy fabric you may need to sew with shorter stitch length and press the seam(s) open
  6. It can be advisable to use a single width of fabric for the center section then add an additional amount of fabric to either side of the center.  When you fold your finished quilt for storage you will not always be folding it right on the seam of the backing fabric, which can weaken the seam.

Square the Backing Fabric:

            Whether you have seamed the backing fabric or are using 108 inch wide backing it must be squared for attaching to the long arm.   We can perform this step for you at the cost of $15.00 per hour as listed on our pricing page.

Press the Backing Fabric:  
Not enough Backing Fabric: 
  1. If you do not have enough backing fabric to extend 6 inches beyond all sides of your quilt top you can baste additional strips of fabric onto the backing.
  2. It is better to lay  the additional strip onto the backing and stitch flat rather than create a seam.
  3. The strips should be of similar weight to the backing fabric.
  4. After adding the strips the backing should be squared including the strips.
  5. We can perform this step for you at the cost of $15.00 per hour plus the cost of materials as listed on our pricing page.
Backing with Nap or Pile:
  1. If the backing is pieced and constructed of a fabric with nap or pile such as corduroy, you must be certain the nap runs the same way in all sections of the backing.
  2. We cannot be responsible for waves or puckers in the backing if the nap runs in different directions.