I learned how to finish a quilt in the ‘quilt as desired’ days…before the internet, Youtube, Craftsy and Instagram. That means that I have been turning bindings the old fashioned way (stitched to the front, then flipped and hand sewn down) for a very long time. Earlier this year, I saw a Facebook post made by Mary Schilke, the cofounder of the MQX show, in which she referenced the Magic Binding technique.
Off to YouTube I went, where I found a video posted by Aunt Marti, wher she referenced the technique. I’ve used it a couple of times now, and I have found it to be not only an easy way to attach the binding, but it also can become an unexpected design element. I used it on the Ambassador’s April challenge, where it gave a nice hit of color on the edge. I also used in in the May challenge, where it helped to draw the eye out towards the edge in The Softer Side.
This morning, I created a mockup of how I did it, so that I can walk you through the project. You might remember that I have been working on my quilting skills this year, and I simply trimmed off the quilt sandwich to create a teaching aid. I do a lot of my work with batiks, but this is made of solids; I thought it would be easier to see it this way.
I usually cut my bindings to be 2.25″ wide, but in this technique, you are going to use have a binding which is wider than the handstitch method. In my demo piece, I used two shades of pink. The main binding fabric (the softer pink) is cut at 1.50″ x WOF, and the flange – which will be the tiny strip of fabric on the front, is the hot pink strip cut at 1.75″ x WOF. I made myself a card with the dimensions so that I will remember how to do this. The two strips are sewn together the long way, and then the seams are pressed on the wrong side to the main color. It’s a bit counter intuitive, in that the main color is the narrower of the two strips, but it does work. Once the pressing is done, fold the fabrics so that the wrong sides are together, and the edges meet. You will then see the little flange (in this case hot pink) show up.
Geeze, you can really see that I need to keep practicing the quilting. Oh well, that’s another blogpost – or series of blogposts. Back to the binding…
This binding is attached to the back of the quilt, with the hot pink side facing you as you are stitching. Sew the binding around the edges on three sides, mitering the edges as you do with any other technique. Just as any other technique…leave yourself a good 6-10 inches on each of the tails, and backstitch. I’ve gotten myself into trouble more times than I can count by not leaving enough space, and the demo is only 11 inches long to start with. The more space you leave, the easier the next steps will be.
Now that you have left enough space, it’s time to splice the two pieces of binding together into one. Lay your piece out flat, and fold your binding back on itself so that it meets up closely in the middle, and so that you can see the flange. Cut the left hand tail straight – directly on the fold. Breathe Deeply!
Open up the cutoff end from the left side – so that you have it flat. For you math majors, it should measure around 2.75″ wide; place it onto the right hand tail with the edge lined up with the fold on the left hand side. Double check yourself, then cut the right hand tail off exactly where the cutoff side ends.
Ok, you’re almost done. The next step is to take the left hand tail and pull it out to the right, so that it’s opened flat. You will then take the right hand tail and place it onto the top of the left, right sides together and perpendicular to one another. This is where the 6-10 inch length comes in handy – I didn’t originally have enough length on this piece, and I had to unsew a bit to give me more room. I have also used a clip or a pin to give me more room. At this point, you’re going to draw a diagonal line from top left to bottom right – and pin both pieces in place so there is no shift. Sew slowly, making sure the pins don’t shift and you stay on the line.
TA DA…A perfect fit!
Once you’ve sewn the line, remove the pins and make sure that the edge of the binding fits the space perfectly BEFORE you trim anything. If you need to take a do over (and I’ve done several), the good news is that it’s not a long seam to unstitch. Once you are happy, trim away the excess, then sew the now joined 4th side to your quilt sandwich.
I press the binding to the front at this point, and fold it over. It should fall into place nicely, with the edges working themselves into a nice mitre. I usually use monofilament thread to sew the front down in the ditch.
Off to continue working on my quilting skills. If you have questions or comments about the technique, please leave them in the comments below.