Put an end to UFOs with quilt-finishing smarts (tutorial + giveaway!)

It’s an ongoing conundrum for quilters: why do we let our UFOs (or WIPs, or whatever you might call your unfinished quilts) pile up?

If you’re like many quilters, the reason is this: the techniques you currently rely on to finish your quilts aren’t efficient or easy—and that can make finishing quilts feel more frustrating than fun.

Quiltmaking Essentials 2For 30+ years, prolific author Donna Lynn Thomas has been weeding out fussy finishing methods, forming an arsenal of go-to techniques that work every time (check out her free binding tutorial below). Now she’s ready to help you complete quilts like a pro with Quiltmaking Essentials 2.

Donna doesn’t encourage the use of her techniques so your quilts will be perfect. Instead, she’s a cheerleader for the “essentials” because she knows that once you establish reliable ways to finish your quilts, your quilting experiences will become frustration-free. That means you’ll finish more UFOs (and have a whole lot more fun doing it)!

Settings, sashings, borders, backings, and bindings—you’ll find Donna’s favorite methods for each in Quiltmaking Essentials 2. You can add Donna’s new finishing guide to your library for less than $20—but this week only, we’re offering a special bonus when you buy both volumes of Quiltmaking Essentials:

Free shipping on Quiltmaking Essentials books
Free shipping to US and Canada only. Offer ends June 1, 2015.

Today Donna is our guest at Stitch This! to share one of her favorite techniques from Quiltmaking Essentials 2—mitering those pesky binding corners. Welcome, Donna!

Donna Lynn ThomasIt’s Happy Dance time! That exciting quilt you’ve been working on for what seems like ages is assembled to perfection, quilted beautifully, and now—dum-de-dum-dum—it’s time to bind it!

Well, binding’s not hard at all. With a few simple tricks and tips from Quiltmaking Essentials 2, it’ll be done in no time.

The easiest and most commonly used binding is a double-fold binding cut across the grain of the fabric. What that means is that the binding strips are cut selvage to selvage (along the crosswise grain), just like you cut strips for patchwork. Once strips are sewn together, they’re pressed in half lengthwise so there are two layers wrapping around the edge of your quilt.

Quiltmaking Essentials 2 will show you how to bind just about anything, but one really cool part of the binding process is making a square mitered corner. It’s like magic, finishes your quilt beautifully, and is as easy as can be. Here’s how to do it:

1. Sew the prepared binding to the edge of your quilt; stop ¼" from the corner.

Quilt binding tutorial 1

2. Flip up the binding so it is running in a direct line from the next quilt edge.

Quilt binding tutorial 2

3. Now, fold the binding straight back down on itself, being careful not to move the pleat you just formed at the corner. By doing this, you create the correctly angled pleat in the corner to turn to the back. Pin the pleat in place. Starting at the edge, stitch the binding to the second side of the quilt top, pin-marking and stopping ¼" from the corner as before. Repeat the process for the remaining corners.

Quilt binding tutorial 3

You’ll find my favorite way to connect the starting and ending tails of the binding in Quiltmaking Essentials 2.

Once your binding is machine sewn to the front of your quilt, you’re ready to roll the binding to the quilt back in preparation for slip-stitching it to the back of the quilt. Remember that neat miter on the front of the quilt? It’s just as important to do the same on the back. Here’s how:

1. Slip-stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, up to the first corner. Fold the binding on the next side of the quilt to the back to make a miter.

Quilt binding tutorial 4 Quilt binding tutorial 5
Stitch to the corner; fold to miter the corner.

2. Slip-stitch the diagonal fold in place. Then, slide your needle to the front of the binding and slip-stitch the diagonal fold on the front too. Once that’s done, slip your needle to the back of the quilt and continue slip-stitching the binding to the next edge of the quilt.

Quilt binding tutorial 6
Slip-stitch the miter in place on the front and back of the quilt.

3. Finish slip-stitching all four sides and corners and your quilt is done—except for that all-important label. But that’s for another day!

Thanks for dropping in to share a technique from Quiltmaking Essentials 2, Donna!

How do you typically sew binding to the back of your quilts: by hand or by machine? Tell us in the comments and you could win eBook copies of both Quiltmaking Essentials 1 and Quiltmaking Essentials 2! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

Free shipping on Quiltmaking Essentials books

Free shipping to the US and Canada only. Must sign in or register first; free shipping will apply at checkout.

 Offer ends June 1, 2015.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Sandra, who says:

“I’m a novice quilter, but I machine sew the binding to all my quilts. They are not the fanciest quilts, but they will be durable. This includes the mitered corners…again, not fancy, but durable. I tried all sorts of binding techniques, but I find that by the time the binding is done, I’m ready to move on to another project, so machine sewing the binding is my preferred method.”

Sandra, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!


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