Sew Along Part 5: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder
by Ashley Fritsche
Welcome back to the Sew Along: Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder Part 5! If you are just joining us, catch up on Part 4 HERE. In today's final installment of the Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder, we learn how to perfect the quilt binding!
Products Used in Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt Skill Builder: Part 5
Folded Corner Clipper Ruler
Olfa Rotary Cutter
Quilter's Pressing Fleece
Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide
Hinged 1/4" foot
True 1/4" Foot
Low Shank Open Toe 1/4" Foot
Water soluble applique glue
Quilt patterns usually instruct: "Quilt as desired and bind." Binding is the fabric that finishes the quilt by wrapping around the raw edge left by the quilt sandwich. Patterns usually tell what size binding to use on the project which can be a variety of sizes. Typical quilt patterns will call for 2 ¼” or 2 ½” binding. Once you get familiar with what works for best for you, you can experiment with altering the size of binding. Sweet Trellis calls for 2 ¼” binding.
Following the same guidelines for squaring up WOF yardage in Part 2, square your binding fabric by lining your ruler and trimming off the uneven edge. Then, using your ruler as your guide (not your mat cutting lines), cut two 2 ¼” strips of fabric. Trim off the selvedges from both ends. Now, let’s use the Folded Corner Clipper to create a mitered joint in these two pieces.
Stack your binding strips, one on top of the other, with both sides right side facing up. Line your Folded Corner Clipper on the edge of your strips with the flat quarter inch of the ruler at the top of the strip running diagonally down to the corner of the strip. The bottom and corner of the strip will line up on the 2 ¼” mark. There is a dog ear, just like in the block assembly step.
Trim off the triangles. Turn the strip over and match the strips RST. The strips will be at a 90 degree angle to one another. Sew on the diagonal with ¼” seam allowance, press the seam allowance open. You should have one continuous piece of binding.
Using your wool mat and hot iron (but not too hot! Don’t scorch your fabric), fold the strip WST (wrong sides together) and press the entire length of binding. Since it is two WOF cuts, now that they’re sewn together, it should be approximately 80”. This is your prepared binding for your mini quilt.
I have used my Accurate Seam Guide and my regular presser foot up until this step. When sewing binding, I like to use my hinged ¼” foot with the little guide attached. In larger quilts, I often use my walking foot to keep the fabrics evenly fed as I sew. Since this is a small quilt, this hinged foot is my go-to, but if you don’t have this attachment, the original cloth guide or the accurate seam guide can be helpful to keep your ¼” seam.
On larger quilts, I like to start on the short side of the quilt sandwich to start my binding, usually on the bottom left. I start here for a couple of reasons. First, I will get one corner out of the way! Secondly, when I round the third corner, I only have the short side to go and I know I’m almost done! I follow the same thought process on the final binding stitching, whether I’m hand or machine stitching.
Keeping a 6” tail, place your binding strip with the raw edges matching the raw edge of your quilt sandwich. Begin to sew a ¼” seam allowance.
When you get to the corner, stop approximately ¼” from the bottom edge.
Lift your presser foot and pull your fabric out from under the needle. Fold the fabric to the right. It will create a 45 degree angle. Now fold the fabric back on itself and the raw edges will match back up!
Place your fabric back under your presser foot and begin sewing again! I usually back stitch 2-3 stitches here. Mind the threads you pulled out when you took the fabric and turned it. If you cut it, you’ll have tails. If you left the thread attached, it has the opportunity to get caught under your presser foot and you will find yourself calling out in frustration when it gets caught on that presser foot toe!
Cut your thread and take the top out from under your machine. The raw edges on the last side are not sewn yet. Your next origami trick will be mitering these binding tails together to create your continuous binding.
Lay the raw edge of your first binding tail flush with the raw edges of your top. Overlap the other tail on top, checking there are no bumps or folds; it should be flat. Using a ruler, measure the width of your binding, in this case 2 ¼”, and snip it off. The top binding tail should overlap 2 ¼”. (This works for any size binding you’re working with: if you have 2 ½” binding, cut the top overlap at 2 ½”, if you’re using a 1 ¾” binding, cut the top tail overlap at 1 ¾”.)
In this step, I always put my binding pieces RST to see how they will match up. You will miter these together in the same way you mitered the long strip pieces. Only now, you will do it while it is attached to your top. One side will twist to make the L shape. I use a ruler to draw a line from corner to corner. This will be my sewing line. I often pin or pinch the ends together before sewing or cutting. This step makes sure the binding is not twisted or curled. When I am positive my pieces are in the correct orientation, I used the Folded Corner Clipper Ruler to cut the binding. This creates a seam allowance. Sew the pieces together and press open. You now have the perfect length of binding. Match raw edges, stitch and voila! You just sewed mitered, continuous binding on your quilt. Using a mitered seam allowance vs. a straight edge to edge seam allowance creates less bulk and a flatter binding on your quilt. Also, mitered fabric is stronger than edge to edge pieces.
This last part is my favorite part of the quilt. I learned a new (to me) binding finishing technique last summer when I began working at my local quilt store. This has been around for ages, but I had never heard of or tried “glue basting” for machine binding on a quilt. Please know that I adore hand binding. It is a relaxing handwork that brings me joy. However, what doesn’t bring me joy is dozens of unfinished tops, waiting for binding. Hand binding can be very time consuming. Being shown this glue basting technique was like the clouds parting and angels singing. I can mimic a hand bound quilt (from the front) while finishing the binding in a fraction of the time.
From the front side of your quilt, press the binding out on all sides. Turn your quilt over. Using a water soluble applique glue, apply a thin string or several dots on the inside of the seam allowance. Fold the binding over and on top of the glue with the edge of the binding just over your seam allowance stitch line. Work sections like this, using your iron to “dry” the glue. Place a dot at the corner fold to baste down the mitered fold. Glue baste each side. At this point, your quilt looks finished, but there is one more step, sewing the binding down.
On the top side of your quilt, you are going to stitch-in-the-ditch to adhere the binding. I like to use the true ¼” foot for this step. Any foot will work; I prefer this one because I can see exactly where my stitches are landing. Remember you basted the binding just over the seam allowance stitch on the backside? When stitching from the front side, in the “ditch,” close to the binding edge, your sewing will just catch that back edge. Slow and steady wins the race here. I take my time, sewing slowly and as close to my binding as possible to ensure I catch the back seam. Round each corner, continue on all sides, and when you get back to the start, either create a few locking stitches or back stitch 2-3 stitches. Inspect your stitching on the back side to make sure you caught all edges. When I get cocky and step on the gas, I find I might miss a section. Taking your time is worth it. Once inspection is done, you are finished! Your Sweet Trellis Mini quilt is done and ready to be displayed, shown off, given to a friend, or kept in your home as a beautiful reminder of the keen and wonderful work your hands can do! Congratulations!