Once you’ve made your binding you’ll then want to join it to your quilt. As a rule I generally start somewhere in the middle of the bottom edge of my quilt. Lay your binding along the quilt and rather than using the binding right from the end instead allow yourself a spare bit or tail between six to eight inches or so before you begin pinning the binding into position.
Open up your binding and position it along the edge of your patchwork, carefully pin along the pressed line. I like to pin about 10 to 12 inches of binding into place at a time, more than that and the pins can get a bit prickly in your lap, and I find they also have the tendency to fall off (to only be found later by “Colin”* and his magnetic feet).
Using a “sharp” needle (“sharps” are long, fine and aptly named, very sharp. They are perfect for sewing patchwork and for sewing the binding into place) and a thread colour that matches your binding, make a small back stitch though the layers of the quilt, and then over stitch it so it is super secure.
Then continue to make very small back stitches through all the layers, along the pinned edge. Try to keep your stitches neat and consistent in size. You really want to be aiming for between 8 and 10 stitches an inch……don’t be tempted to start rushing and making bigger stitches, they won’t keep the binding secure and will end up showing as little gaps underneath when you go to turn the binding over. Just take your time (it doesn’t have to be completed in 5 minutes)……
When you turn your work over you’ll be able to see a tiny row of stitches along the backing fabric. These will act as a guide when you turn the binding over and sew it to the back.
Sewing the corners is a bit tricky…..(at this point I either pop the kettle on and make a pot of tea, or have a Werther’s Original. Armed with those I’m invincible!) Lay the binding flat along the edge and allow it to drape over towards the left….gently score with a thumb nail along the edge of the left side of the patchworks’s raw edge and mark with a pin.
With a second pin (the grey headed one) measure over 1/4 of an inch and pin the spot.
Continue sewing your little back stitches to the exact point of the grey pin, and over stitch that final stitch. Tuck your needle into your work a couple of inches away (I had to move my needle in the above photo as it wasn’t quite far enough away, it’s easier if you tuck the needle above the stitched line.)
Now fold over the binding so it forms a diagonal edge in the corner. Gently press the fold with your thumb nail. If you’re worried it’s going to wriggle about then you can pin it into place.
Then fold the binding back down along the left hand side. You need to line up the binding with the raw edge of the binding where you’ve just sewn. A little flap of fabric will be formed at the top of the right hand side of the binding.
Pin the flap so it doesn’t shift about, rotate the quilt round and then pin along the pressed line of the binding on what is now the new top side.
Un-tuck your needle, now you want to carefully push it through the last stitch made (on the left hand side of the stitch) and bring it out the other side of the tuck. You need to make sure you don’t sew through the fold made underneath the top section of binding, so with the needle in position you can carefully peer down through the layers from the top to check the needle hasn’t poked through the binding underneath, if the needle has poked through then you can just un-slide it a little so the tip can move along where it needs to come out. (this sounds a lot more confusing than it is. If you make a test piece you will see what I mean). When the needle tip comes out at the right place, make one small forward or straight stitch and then carefully make another on top before sewing along the rest of the pressed binding edge with small back stitches.
When you’ve sewn some of the binding into position you’ll find you can fold the binding up on itself, and the corner forms a little concentina style overlap.
When you come toward the last side of the quilt, make sure you leave a nice sized gap for where you are going to be joining the two tail ends of the binding together. I generally like to leave about 10 inches so I have plenty of turning room.
* a reference to The Great Escape and the pin on the floor.