Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Magic Binding - so Easy and it looks great too!

Last weekend I was at a local quilt show and came across a vendor that had a large bin of 3 yard fabric cuts at $6 a yard. I looked through the bin and found two pieces that made it home with me.

One of them was an orange and yellow harlequin print and I thought it would make the perfect accent fabric for my latest quilt finish. The quilt itself is a Halloween tumblers quilt, which I had cut out, pieced and finished the top awhile back, but had never gotten around to quilting. I decided in October that 2013 was the year to finish it (it was only an UFO for 1 year). I managed to plug through long arming it with bats, and pumpkins and a spiderweb pattern in the various areas. It was off the machine and trimmed up and ready to be slept under on October 30th this year.

We actually slept under it on both Mischief Night and Halloween without the binding! It was warm and fun and some of the fabrics glow in the dark so they lit up the room for a few minutes until we fell asleep.

After I got the harlequin fabric home, I decided it was time to make the binding and really finish the quilt for show and tell at guild. While I typically employ the use of hand applied bias binding for my show quilts, this time I made the MAGIC Binding, also known as the Piping or Flange Binding. Essentially, this binding is made up of two long straight cut pieces. The actual quilt binding strip pieces are cut at 1.5" in width for the length you need to bind the quilt plus about 10 inches.

The accent or flange strips are cut a bit wider at 1.75". Again, you need to measure your quilt and cut the same number of strips of each. The same fabrics are then sewn end to end into one long strip of 1.5" and 1.75" respectively. I prefer to use the mitered seam join (45 degree angle) to reduce the bulk in the binding keeping it consistent.

Once the strips are sewn and the seams ironed open and flat, then you join the two strip sets into one using a 1/4 inch seam allowance (right sides together of course!). I like to use my favorite old molefoam trick on the machine bed to keep the seam perfectly even. This was key on this binding because it was long as the quilt is actually king sized.

Press the seam gently the lengthwise of the strip and ensure the seam is nice and straight. Press the wrong sides together of the strip matching the unsewn edges and press. The result will be a nice, perfect binding that has a little 1/4 inch accent piece where the strips were joined. This accent piece creates the flange accent.

Now here is the fun part, you add the binding to the back of the quilt. The accent fabric, the larger of the colors, is actually facing up, your primary binding fabric is facing down and is the smaller of the colors. This way when you sew it to the back of the quilt, the accent color ends up on the inside of the added binding, magically becoming the flange and giving you a place to sew by machine the binding. I use matching threads when attaching the binding to the quilt for the first go around.

I use invisible thread in both the bobbin and top stitches when finishing the binding after it is applied to the back. Once sewn the backing and the invisible thread is loaded in your machine and bobbin, bring the binding around to the front and sew in the ditch on the front between the two colors. Pinning the binding may help you sew straight, but be sure to remove pins instead of sewing over them.

When you get to the corner, its easy to make mitered corners. Sew to the edge, back up a few stitches, tuck the other side in and turn your stitching line.

If you take your time, sew with care, the binding will form mitered corners on both the front and back as shown in the pictures above. Below shows what the edges look like.

I really love the way the yellow and lighter orange colors in the harlequin fabric pull out the colors in the pumpkins of the backing and binding fabric. This binding is fast, fun and since its completely done by machine, its easy and the results are quite pleasing to the eye.

Questions, feedback welcomed!

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