Wednesday, 4 May 2011

ABCs of sewing: B is for Binding

Binding is another one of those things that used to scare me, so I avoided it. However, a few months ago I made a quilt and unlike my other quilting attempts where I cheated and did the binding on a sewing machine (more on this later), this one I wanted to do properly. A quilting friend showed me what to do and surprise, it actually wasn't that scary at all. And now I use it ALL the time. Like this skirt. I wanted to add a touch of colour, so instead of hemming it I put binding top and bottom. Et voila!

I use binding on the edges of necks and sleeves, along the top of a cloth bag, around the edge of a cushion, and of course on a quilt.  There are different ways to do it, but here is mine.

You will need:
- strip of fabric, 2 inches wide and as long as you need it. If you can't get the required length in one continuous piece, don't worry. Just cut as many pieces as you need to get there. (To make your life easier, you may well want to use a rotary cutter and mat, or at least a good ruler and a fabric pen - the kind that fades within 24 hours - to mark your lines. You do want to be quite precise here.)
- sewing machine and iron

Step 1: joining pieces

If you don't have one single piece of fabric that is long enough for your purposes, you will need to join pieces together. You do this by placing two pieces of fabric right side down so that their corners form a right angle. 

You then sew across this angle from the bottom left point to the top right point

Open the strip out and you should have joined the two pieces with what looks like a diagonal seam.

 Trim the back, and press it flat. Join as many pieces as you need, but make sure that all the seams are on the same side. (I say this from experience: when I was making this piece, I had to tear out four sections which I'd sewed together back to front. Oops.)

Step 2: Ironing

Now that you've got your very long length, you need to fold it in half length-wise and press it. You should now have a very long, 1 inch tall strip.

Step 3: Attaching the binding

Now these pictures show the binding going onto a quilt, but the premise is the same no matter what you're attaching it to. You want to lay the binding on top of the good side of your quilt/garment/whatever so that the rough edges line up. You're then going to sew the binding on, following along the edge, as shown:

Step 4: Finishing

Now fold the binding around so that it covers all the rough edges and ends up on the back of your quilt/garment/whatever. If you're making a quilt, you'll probably want to take time and finish the other edge by hand using as neat and hidden stitches as possible (see below).

However, if this is just for a skirt or something that isn't going to be closely inspected from both sides, I'm all for just whipping it on with a machine. Unless you're very careful, the stitches will probably show a bit but I don't mind. If you're doing it by machine, fold the binding under and then sew through all the layers, from the top, positioning your needle in the groove where you joined the binding on. The stitches will show on the other side, but shouldn't be too visible from the top. You can see the finished effect on that skirt - the wrong side clearly shows the pink stitching, but the right side looks pretty good!

There you go. A rough guide to binding. Sometime I will show you the very easy, very cheating way to bind a quilt by machine - but that's enough about binding for now.

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