Come closer...I want to tell you a terrible secret...
I hate binding quilts.
There, I said it. It feels good to get it off my chest.
I love cutting the material, piecing, ironing, heck, I even love basting it all together more than I like binding.
Binding, for me, is the devil.
But, a lot of that is on me because I absolutely refuse to learn to do it by hand. My friend Jenny has offered to teach me a bunch of times, but each and every time I reply the same way:
"Absolutely not, I refuse to do it by hand."
It's because I'm lazy. There's no two ways about it. Binding by hand seems like something I'd hate, so I haven't even tried. Maybe one day I will, if I ever make a quilt I intend to put in a show, I swear I'll learn. But that day is not today.
I think part of the reason I dislike it so much is because I'm terrible at it. I have, up until today, done my bindings by ironing the binding in half, laying the double edge side against the edge of my quilt, and sewing down the binding. Then, I'd flip the quilt over and repeat the process on the other side, pulling the binding over and hoping I wouldn't end up actually sewing into the binding material on to the other side.
I always ended up sewing into the binding material on the other side, always.
Then I heard about using a bias tape maker and a binder foot, and I was determined to see if this new way would work better for me.
It does, I'm a convert!
See, this method has you nestle the quilt into the binding and then sew the whole binding on at once. Yes you have thread showing at the edge, but it's meant to be that way, not a mistake, and it's all quite uniform, one neat little line running along the edge.
In the rest of this post, I'm going to show you what I used, exactly how I did it, and how it turned out.
Before you get started, you're going to need a few things. I'll post them below and link to the ones I currently use.
1. An ironing board or mat - QuiltMate
2. An iron - Steamfast
3. A bias tape maker in your preferred size (I used 25mm) - Honeysew
4. Your binding
5. A binding foot for your machine - This one is pretty universal, but make sure the foot you buy fits your machine.
You're also going to need the other stuff you'd just normally use, like your sewing machine, some scissors, and a water bottle if you'd like to mist your cloth as you go.
To start, make sure you've cut your binding strip to match the bias tape maker size you're using. The rule of thumb is that your finished binding will be 1/4 the size of your cut binding.
If you cut a 2" wide binding, you will insert it into the 25mm bias tape maker, it will come out 1" wide and then you will fold it in half again when you actually nestle it onto your quilt edge and bind it, making it a 1/2" binding.
I purchased a bias tape maker set that had several different sizes with it, but I think I'll end up mostly using the 25mm. The others will be good should I ever do smaller quilts, pot holders, etc.
First, as with any binding, you're going to need to sew your binding together, trim the edges and iron the seams open instead of to one side. This will make the material easier to feed through the tape maker when you hit the seams.
That's a seam I've ironed opened.
Once you've got your binding cut to your desired size, and all sewn together, go ahead and cut the end at an angle. This will help when you're initially feeding the binding into the tape maker.
I tried to feed it in without taking this quick step, and it was a giant pain. Cutting the edge makes all the difference.
Feed it in as shown below:
If your material is being particularly unkind you can mist it with water as it comes out of the tape maker, before you iron it. I find that water always help things stay where they're supposed to be.
Hold the iron on the binding as it comes out. Keep it close to the edge of the tape maker. If you pull it too far away the cloth can start to gape, making your edges too wide.
I just moved the tape maker and binding to the edge of my ironing mat, then I placed the iron on the binding and slowly moved the tape maker toward the edge of the mat, keeping the binding in place. I followed behind the tape maker with my iron, ironing the binding coming out as I went.
Once I'd ironed all the way across the mat, I would just move the tape maker and binding to the edge and start all over again.
If your tape maker has a small handle, try holding that instead of the tape maker itself, as the metal can get very hot.
As you can see, the seams come out just fine. You might have to gently wiggle them through the tape maker, but as long as you're very close to the tape maker with your iron, the seams will come out...seamlessly. You can hardly even tell that's a seam!
Now comes the tricky part, or at least I found it to be tricky.
You're going to need to nestle your quilt edge into your binding. That part is really simple!
Once that's done, you're going to nestle that entire piece into the binder foot. This also wasn't difficult in itself, but keep reading...
As you quilt, you just need to keep nestling your quilt into the binding, all while feeding it through the foot. I had a lot of trouble with this and ended up taking the foot off toward the end, opting to just use my normal piecing foot. I felt like it gave me a lot more control.
The end result is a beautifully done binding that looks SO MUCH more professional than any binding I've ever done in the past. I can honestly say I'm a bias tape maker convert and will be using it on every binding I do from here on out.
The binding foot is another story. I'm not sure I like it, I definitely do not like making mitered corners with it, and I didn't feel like I had a lot of control, but your mileage may vary. The good thing is that the foot wasn't expensive, I think it was around $10, so it's nice to have in case I decide I do want to give it another go.
I may use it next time, just to practice and see if I get better at it, we'll see.
For me, the bias tape maker and my every day piecing foot are a fantastic, quick, simple alternative to the ugly bindings I used to make.
And, as promised, here are some shots of the finished quilt, including close ups of the binding.
Compare that to some of the other bindings I've done, and you can see why I much prefer this method. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my quilts and my bindings, just getting them done is a big deal, but the thread you're seeing in the binding material, that's not actually supposed to happen with the method I was using.
Have you got a preferred binding method? Since it's my nemesis, I'd love to hear your favorite way to get this done.
About The Author
I started quilting in June of 2018 after attending a quilt show in support of my
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