Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elizabeth's Faced Binding - a 2013 FAL Tutorial

she can quilt

My friend Elizabeth, who blogs at OP Quilt, has agreed to share a tutorial for a faced binding with us. This is a binding which makes your quilt look like a piece of art where the canvas is all you see on the front. Elizabeth gives us simple and straightforward instructions for this advanced quilting technique.

I am happy to be a guest on Leanne's blog She Can Quilt today, presenting a tutorial for a faced binding for the Finish-A-Long Tutorial series for Q2. 

A faced binding is applied to the front of your quilt and is wrapped to the back.  If done well, it can't be seen at all from the front, allowing the last border of your quilt to act as the frame for your quilt, and eliminating one last design element from your quilt.  Often used on art quilts, when an additional line of a border would distract from the art, it can be also be used on our regular quilts.

Kaleidoscope Top
I used it on Kaleidoscope, as the printed border needed no other embellishment.

Step One: Prepare the quilt and strips
Trim the batting and edges of your quilt.  In the best world, your trimmed line falls at the edge of your fabric.  A little fudging here and there is okay.

For the binding, you'll need four strips, one for each edge.  Measure the edges of your quilt and add 10 extra inches to that measurement.


Cut 4" wide strips for a medium- or large-sized quilt, and 3" wide strips for smaller quilts.

Trim Ends

If you need to piece the strip to provide the right length, trim both ends at a right angle (make sure they are slanted the same way) and piece together on the bias.  Fold the strip in half lengthwise and iron.

Step Two: Applying Binding Strips
Leaving a tail on each side of about 5 inches, pin the binding strip to the FRONT of your quilt, raw edges even, with the folded edge of the binding falling toward the quilt center, just like you would for a regular binding. Only this binding is giant-sized, and you won't stitch around the corners continuously.

Pinned Binding

Continue pinning the strips onto each side.  Pin the strip nearly to the end, as you'll be leaving the last one-quarter-inch of each seam unsewn.

QuarterInch from Corner

I measured one-quarter-inch from each edge, and placed a pin there to remind me to stop sewing.

Stitching Binding

Stitch on the binding, using a quarter-inch seam allowance.

Step Three: Mitering the Corner


Take the quilt to your ironing board and using a light touch, press the binding strips away from your quilt.

Mitered Corner2

Then lay the quilt so you can fold back the binding tails, as shown.  Work to have a perfectly straight 45-degree angle on those folds where they meet; use a ruler to help you align it, if necessary. Press.  The slight gap you see there between the folds is normal--the folds relax when you take the iron off.  It's better to have a slight gap than to have an overlap.

Mitered corner1

Another view, but this is just fingerpressed.  While you can just fingerpress the folds, I think it's better to get a hot iron on there so you can see the crease.  (See next image.)  Remember that you are pressing through double-folded fabric.

Unfold and align the binding strips for the first corner, folding the quilt down and out of the way.  You are lining up the top folded edges.  I try not to pin this next seam to death, instead using only three pins:

Mitered corner3a

• #1--Place a pin at the outer, folded edges of each binding strip and line the creases up.
• #2--Then go to the bottom, near where it's joined to the quilt, and poke a pin from the top crease down into the bottom crease, lining them up.
• #3--Lastly, line up the creases at the center and place a pin there.
You are pinning along the crease you made when you ironed in that beautiful miter at the ironing board.

Stitch the seam.  You'll begin stitching from the folded, outer edges and sew back towards the quilt-binding seam (at the bottom of the picture).  There's really no need to "tack" by backstitching.  So don't.  Just leave your thread tails long and you should be fine.

Mitered Corner 4

Trim the tails to one-quarter-inch, as shown, then press the seam open.


This is the backside of that mitered join up above.  Notice how the seam allowances become smaller at the point?  That's because I trimmed them down to eliminate bulk.  Trim out as much of the batting as you can, while making sure you don't cut the stitching. Don't skip this step.  Just proceed carefully.  (You will be fine.)

Step Four: Understitching 
Often used when attached a facing to a neckline in dress-making, understitching is a technique to join the weensy seam allowances to the faced binding, which will keep them from rolling to the front and showing on your quilt.
First, since you pressed the binding away from the quilt up above, you've already started on this step.  If you didn't press at that time, do your best to press it now, going as far into the corner as your iron will allow.


Line up your needle so you are just to the right of the binding seam.  Stitch a straight line, smoothing the binding and the quilt away from the seam as you go, keeping a light tension.  Light.  The success of understitching depends on not letting the binding bunch up toward the quilt, nor wandering in your stitching onto the quilt.  Stay on the binding, smooth away the  binding and it will go as smooth as butter.
Of course you can't sew deep into the corner, so go as far as you can and leave the thread tails long.  Cut the thread, then begin again on the next side.  You're almost there.

Step Five: Sewing down the Binding
Carefully turn the binding to the back of your quilt, and gently ease out the corners.  If you are brave and not foolhardy, you can use a chopstick to help ease out the tip.  But if you go too far, you'll have a mess on your hands. Proceed gingerly.  Give it a quick, light press, helping the binding roll to the back, if necessary.  Using steam and a little pressure from your fingers should train your quilt nicely.

If after turning, you think your corners are distorted and look like the tips of a witch's shoe, a little pulling at the side edges, just below the tip, will shorten that tip and bring it back into shape.  Set it with a little shot of steam from your iron, then press it with your fingers or a piece of wood until it cools.  Seamstresses use "clappers," or smoothed wooden tools just for this purpose.  However, it's better to lay a piece of cloth down and put your tender fingers on that, than to smash the heck out of it with a hot iron.  Never over-iron your quilts, or blocks, for that matter!  A horribly flattened block means that, to me, someone has decided to start wearing out their quilts early.

Stitching Down Binding

You'll stitch the binding down by hand, just as you do a regular quilt binding.  Now you can clip those long thread tails on the top of the binding as you come to them.  Tuck the long tails that are on the backside of the binding up inside--no need to trim those.  If you find your miter is buckling just a little and has too much fabric, with your handsewing needle take a small tuck and secure it with tiny stitches.
All done!

Here's a close-up of the quilt above, showing how a faced binding is invisible from the front.

This is the faced binding from the back of the quilt.

Note: If you need to attach a quilt sleeve for hanging, you'll create your tube of fabric and stitch it on now, aligning the top edge 1/2" to 3/4" down from the top, and leaving a slight bulge in the sleeve to leave room for the hanging rod.

And thank you Elizabeth!

Don't forget to link up your Q2 finishes - the Q2 post-quarter link is open and it will close at midnight MST, July 7, 2013. And if you still have some UFOs I hope you will join us for Q3 of the FAL, Q3 FAL lists can be posted starting on July 8.


Leneslines said...

Good tutorial, and different than what I have seen other places. But I would love to see how it looks from the front - all done:)

pennydog said...

I'm going to do this on the quilt I trimmed only this morning!

Adrianne @ On the Windy Side said...

Fantastic tutorial - lots of nice detail, tips, and explanation of why things are done. I've been wondering how to make a faced binding and I know where I'll come when I finally do make one!

Catrin Lewis said...

Thanks for a great tutorial - not seen one for a faced binding before but I agree with Lene -it would be nice to see what the finished article actually looked like (front and back)

elle said...

Excellent. The understitching was an "of, course. Why didn't I think of that"!!! :) thanks

Leanne said...

For Lene and Catrin and others, the first picture is the finished product. The binding does not show on the front when it is all done.

Mrs Flying Blind... said...

Brilliant - pinned for future use, for sure!

Catherine said...

What a brilliant tutorial

Archie The Wonder Dog said...

Wonderful tutorial! I've done a knife-edge finish before (like you find on the traditional North Country strippy quilts) but I really like this way for wall quilts. Thank you!

Leslie can't stop quilting said...

This was so interesting....thanks so much for such a great lesson!!!

Leslie can't stop quilting said...

p.s......your quilt is beautiful as always!!!

Rhonda the Rambler said...

Brilliant!!! I have been wanting to know how to do this for some time. Thank you Elizabeth!!!

Carla said...

Thanks for the great instructions, Elizabeth!

Katy Cameron said...

I'm a teensy bit confuddled, but I'll check back when I've had more than 4 hours' sleep o.O

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the instruction to faced binding, especially with the inclusion of so many photos, which sounds really difficult to master. Thank you for the Kaleidoscope it is a great example of a border. Also it is good that you split out the measurements for either smaller or larger quilts.

PhD by Publication

Lynette said...

Thank you for this excellent tutorial! This finish approach was 100% EXACTLY what I needed for my dojang quilt that I made for our Master Lee. You can see it here: