28 October, 2008

Multi-Pieced Binding Tutorial

In reality, almost all bindings are pieced - unless you are doing a miniature or baby quilt. I wanted to offer you my technique (far from being unique) for a pieced binding and inspire you to do some multi-fabric bindings to finish your quilts.

Binding on a quilt is like hair. A bad haircut can ruin an incredible outfit, making your quilt look like the equivalent of an 80s yearbook photo. Okay, the clothes weren't great then either. But the right haircut will make you look just so fabulous, even if you are wearing two pairs of slouchy socks and a sweater tied over your shoulders.

Multi-fabric bindings aren't right for every quilt, but they are right for so many. Scrappy quilts, fat-quarter quilts, charm quilts, stack and whacks, and generally any quilt that uses more than 6-8 fabrics are prime candidates for multi-fabric bindings. Even a traditionally pieced quilt can be jazzed up with a multi-fabric binding. Generally, I take some of the fabrics that are used in the quilt, cut random length strips, sew them together, and attach to the quilt. Sometimes I get more formal and do the corners, for example, in one colour and the rest of the length in another.

A couple of notes on my technique. This is not for bias-cut bindings. A bias binding has its place (although it is rare on a quilt I make), but mixing bias cut and straight-grain cut fabric in the binding will just create a complicated mess for you. Secondly, this creates a double thickness of fabric on the edge of your quilt, a double-fold binding. You will not notice a difference, but it provides some added strength for wear and tear.

Here's how I do it.

1. Cut your strips of fabric. The length of the strip will depend on the size of the quilt. To maximize the effect you want at least 2 or 3 fabrics per side. My go-to width of binding strip is 2 and 3/4 inches. This gives a broad enough binding that wraps around the edge of the quilt easily.

*Do not use bias cut fabric*

2. Iron your strips in half lengthwise.
3. Now it is time to join all your strips. Open up the fabric, place your two fabric ends, right sides together, at right angles to each other.
Pin close to the top left corner and bottom right corner.
Draw a line from the outside corner to the outside corner. Do not draw your line from the top left corner to the inside corner, that won't get you anywhere but two randomly sewn together strips. Sew along your line.
After a few tries you won't need to draw the line. Just sew one strip to the other and so on.
The key is to not get your strips twisted.
4. Once all your strips are sewn together cut off the extra fabric triangle. Press the seams to one side. Repress the strips in half where two strips meet.
5. Attach your binding in your preferred method. With this method I sew the binding on my quilt, one side at a time. Each corner is mitred. Then I fold over the binding and sew down by hand, covering the sewn line.

It will be out of order, but the next tutorial will be on squaring up a quilt. Then I will tackle the way I mitre binding corners (I don't do continuous bindings), hand sewing the binding down, and creating a hanging sleeve.

24 October, 2008

Swimming Along

Ignore the fact that this top needs a good pressing, and the light has washed out the colours a bit. Oceane's quilt top is done, the back is done, and I need a nap to get it basted.

I wanted to give you a binding tutorial, but the Monster just woke up from her nap and will not let me use the computer without incessant demands for the Baby Beluga video and a tour through You Tube. Hopefully I can get to it on the weekend.

As I was getting the binding done yesterday and snapping all the photos I realized that I want to add a few more tutorials - on mitered corners, labels, and yes, squaring up a quilt. Soon to come, a series on all the finishing touches for your quilts.

22 October, 2008

All Squared Away

My mom went home, I'm almost done the course of antibiotics, and I even worked out today. Yes, I feel relatively normal again. That should last until I go to the dentist this afternoon.

Inspired Improvisation is almost done. I finished the quilting yesterday and got it squared up this morning. I don't know about you, but I like to square up my quilts before I put the binding on. Some do it after it is on and stitched down. I used to do it after I first sewed it on. Then I got a quilt back from the long armer and it was all squared away for me to attach the binding. Much greater success.

Oddly, the process of squaring up and cutting away the excess fabric and batting is my favourite part of finishing a quilt. This is the moment where it actually becomes a quilt, not just a bunch of cotton fancily put together. Sure, binding completes it and the label tops it off like a cherry, but the loss of the trimmings shapes it into a proper quilt.

Up next? Pieced binding, and I'll post a tutorial on that.

16 October, 2008


I'm back on the couch again. This is about the fourth week in a row - from a cold to a stomach bug to my neck and now mastitis. Do you think my body is trying to tell me something?

There will be no quilting for the rest of the week. I feel like I've been hit by a bus, square on my boob. I've spent the last two days on the couch. At least I finally finished the binding on this quilt last week. Something to snuggle under while warding off the chills. It still needs a label, that's why I haven't posted about it.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for my mom to arrive. Yes, I called my mom. Yes, I feel guilty about that. But last night proved that if Hubby is tired then he can't really manage the girls and I. While the Monster is in daycare today, tomorrow she will be home and we will both struggle if he's trying to work and I'm trying to rest. Thank goodness my mom was free and willing to drive down. To be honest, I think looking after me is a break from looking after my dad! And she gets to see her youngest grandkids in the mix.

And now, Northern Exposure is about to start and I need to pretend to tidy before my mom arrives. Seriously, why do we do that? But I can at least put away the breakfast dishes and maybe clear her bed of the laundry piled on it. And of course, make sure she has a quilt to keep her warm at night.

14 October, 2008

Odd Quilting

It's all about where you get your inspiration.

The quilting on Inspired Improvisation is well underway. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked it. But ultimately I was too lazy to rip it out. I took the idea for the quilting from the fabric that features prominently on the back and in some blocks on the front. Now that I've done more it is growing on me.

It is a sharp contrast to the angles of the pieced work. Originally, I was going to do a bunch of straightline quilting to echo the piecing. I have a tendency, however, to overdue it when it comes to quilting. The pattern I decided on is forcing me to have a bigger design. Because this will be a snuggle quilt I wanting something that would ultimately drape a bit better. The closer you quilt the stiffer the quilt itself.

I'm on a mission to get this quilting done and the binding on by the weekend. I might be up in Edmonton next week and want to visit the recipient in the hospital, hopefully bringing the quilt with me. Simple things like dishes, voting, blogging, and picking up the car from the tinting place will slow me down... but they won't stop me.

07 October, 2008

Water Everywhere

Sometimes being laid up is a good thing. I was all set to applique a bird motif on to this quilt last week. But I got sick and spent two days on the couch. Towards the end of the second day I got a phone call from my friend and former boss. Her baby had come early! So much for being on time with the quilt. It did, however, give me a chance to change plans and make the quilt that much more special.

The baby's name is Océane. In case you couldn't tell, that is French for ocean. The bird motif no longer seemed appropriate. So, what to do? A fish seemed a little obvious. And a starfish a little too simple. I could ignore my original intentions and quilt the quilt as is. In the end I decided to applique a seahorse to the quilt.

Silly me, I decided to HAND applique the sea horse. I haven't done hand applique since the class where I was taught it. But I've done dozens of bindings. How hard could it be? Well, it isn't as easy as I expected, but it's turning out okay.

We went up to Edmonton for the weekend for a slew of family birthdays. The drive up was a perfect opportunity to work on it. I eventually gave up, however, as the weather was crappy and the storm clouds made it hard to see what I was doing. Hubby is away this week so if my neck holds out I plan to knock out some work once the girls are in bed - provided I can keep my eyes open.

02 October, 2008

Good Idea Gone Wrong

I was feeling marginally better this morning and really quite sick of doing nothing, so I decided to baste my Inspired Improvisation. The floors were already clean thanks to some company this morning so I left the dogs to whine outside while I spread things out on the kitchen floor.

Now, basting on the kitchen floor is never recommended. No matter how young you are it is torture on the knees and back. What's a girl to do? I usually baste my bigger quilts on the boardroom table at work, but I'm not at work these days. The kitchen floor it was.

It wasn't too bad, actually. I had enough room to maneuver around the quilt and between the cabinets/fridge. And a cup of tea forced me to get up every few blocks or so for a good sip. Just as I was getting the last of the pins in the quilt the baby, or Little Miss Sunshine as she is now known (better than The Barfinator, her former nickname) woke up. After I nursed her she joined me in the kitchen while I closed all the pins and tidied up.

Unfortunately, as I was closing all the pins my neck started killing me. By the end I could barely lean over, I was crying from the pain, and nausea was about to overtake me. A simple lunch with a chaser of Ibuprofen and a half hour with an ice pack eased the spasm, but OW!!! My girlfriend was on her way over and felt bad for staying while I was in obvious pain. It was a welcome break - it always is with her - and plus, she brought me dinner!

So much for our planned picnic in the park to enjoy the gorgeous day. Instead, I will enjoy the meatballs my girlfriend shared and hopefully get some backyard time in while I count the hours to my massage tomorrow.