I love having choices. Yes, there are times when blind-stitching the binding by hand is the way to go. But since I developed my method for a professional-looking machine topstitched binding, I find that most of my quilts can be finished this way.
The secret to my method is hand basting along the fold of the binding (on the back of the quilt). This gives you x-ray vision: flip the quilt to the front where the basting line shows you exactly where the edge of the binding is on the back. This means you can topstitch the binding from the front of the quilt!
Wait a minute—how does this save time? I’ll be honest—I’m slow (but precise) with my hand blind-stitching; also, pinching the needle with my thumb and finger aggravates my arthritis. But I’m very fast with a big basting stitch, and these irregular quick stitches don’t hurt my hand as much.
Try it for yourself—you might want to add the option of the machine topstitched binding to your quilter's tool box!
1. Adapt your method for making double French-fold bindings for this technique. Cut the binding wide enough so that when folded and sewn right sides together with the quilt top, the binding will fold over to the back and overlap the stitching line by about 1/8".
2. Use your methods to prepare the binding, sew the binding to the quilt (mitering the corners), and pin or clip in place just as you would to prepare for hand blind-stitching.
3. Start by hand blind-stitching the four mitered corners, stitching about 1" in each direction from the corner. This won’t take long, and your mitered corners will stay put during the topstitching for a professional finished look.
4. Now the x-ray vision trick: from the quilt back, hand baste a long running stitch along the very edge of the binding. I use a long needle and basting thread. The stitch length doesn’t matter, but sewing consistently along the fold does.
5. Turn the quilt over to the front to see your stitching line on the front. This line shows you where the edge of the binding is on the back.
Machine topstitch (using a walking foot) to the right of the basting line, knowing you are also stitching along the edge of the binding on the back. Backstitch or run the thread tails through the batting. Note: match the bobbin thread with the binding and the top thread with the quilt front.
6. Check the machine topstitching on the edge of the binding on the quilt back for accuracy. Pull out the basting thread, and voila, the binding is finished, and it looks great on both sides!
Find out more about me and my quilts at wendyhill.net. Follow me on Instagram @wendyquilter. See what I’m up to at wendyhill.net/blog.
My latest book with C&T Publishing, Creative Quilt Challenges, with Pat Pease, features 7 quilt challenges and a special techniques chapter. This is one of my favorite techniques among many featured in the book. You can enter to win an ebook copy of my book right here: a Rafflecopter giveaway. Plus, check out all 5 of my books with C&T Publishing.