Quilt ADD in therapy

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Colorado, United States
Other than my family, the passion of my life is quilting. An eclectic, I love a wide variety of styles and techniques encompassing both machine and hand work. I am a longarm quilter who can work for you. I enjoy any style, from pantographs to all-over to full custom, ranging from traditional to modern. I love bringing vintage tops to life and am willing to work with a challenging quilt top. Instagram: lyncc_quilts

Sunday, November 19, 2017

BOMs Away - How to Prevent Wavy Binding & Avoid Lumpy Corners

Welcome to the link-up for BOMs Away Mondays!
Where we share what we're doing on a BOM-type project 
so they don't stall out in UFO-land!
(Linky at the bottom.)

Because my need to finish up the third Thanksgiving quilt Right Now left me with no BOM sewing time this week, I thought I'd share some binding tips. The first one I figured out on my own, the second I picked up a couple years ago from who-knows-where.

~*~ Preventing Wavy Binding *~

Have you ever taken a quilted quilt with nice, flat edges, and carefully machine finished its binding, only to have the edge be all wavy out of nowhere when you're finished? I'm talking about the kind of wave that I've simulated here by putting spools under my quilt's edge:

I can help you banish those waves!

Except for the few times that a design need demands a straight-grain cut (like totally cool stripes along the quilt's edge), I always cut my binding on the bias.

That's because fabric folded along the bias is much, much more supple than it is when folded on the grain. This yields a binding that wears better on the very edge and has a softer bend as a quilt is used. It is also the ONLY kind of binding you can use for scalloped quilts.

But the same traits that give a bias binding its wonderful suppleness are the same traits that give you an undesirable outcome on machine-finished bindings if you don't handle it properly.

We all like to work smarter, not harder, so we use the quickest, easiest way to accomplish quilting tasks that we can find. Sometimes these short cuts aren't worth the time saved, though.  (Like cheater borders where you don't bother to measure your strips and you end up with bowed or waving borders instead of flat ones.)

Another shortcut you have to watch out for is failing to pin when you're putting a binding on by machine. I don't mean we you first attach it. I never pin for that, except when I'm marking my stop point as I come into each corner, and when I'm doing the invisible join at the end of it all. 

But when you're doing the final stitching to put the second edge of the binding down, if you forego pins and just pull the binding around as you go, stitching a few inches, pulling the next bit around, stitching. . . etc. . .  you *will* get a wavy binding because the flex in a bias cut allows the binding to stretch in unattractive ways. You can kind of get away with this short cut on a straight-grain-cut binding, but not always.

The solution is very simple. Just use pins. I work with only 10 or 12 of them, folding over and pinning however much of the binding those pins reach along. I pin *along* the binding instead of across it, like this (and you can see that I stitch right up into that pin's business before I remove it:

Now, when you  sew the second binding edge down, start ahead of the first pin (you're going to leave that one in until you get back around to that point again - you can see my red-head here at the end of my stitching that was the first pin in, and it stayed in all the way to this point):

And MAKE SURE you always leave the last pin in your line-up in the binding in front of your needle when you stop to pin up the next segment. If you don't, you'll get a little wave in the spots where your pins ran out each time. So, this pin STAYS IN while the next ones get added:

And the magical outcome of the simple practice of pinning your binding before that final stitch-down is a perfectly flat edge. Happiness!

I'm sure you could use the little binding clips just as well (I wouldn't space them further than 2" apart for this use) - I'm just too lazy to go upstairs to get them from my hand-stitching station, which is how I usually finish a binding.

~*~ Avoiding Lumpy Corners *~

You know how the corners can get super lumpy on your binding? 

Some people (and I've been guilty of this approach years ago) actually snip a wee bit off the corner of the quilt to reduce the binding bulk.

Oh, my! DON'T DO THAT! Never cut bits of your quilt off.

Instead, you snip off the binding dog-ear, and here are the two steps to do that:

(Please note that I was making a faux-piped binding, so one side is gold, and the other is brown, which you'll see in these photos.)

After you've attached your binding all around your quilt, pick up a corner 

and insert some good scissors into that fold on the top, between the uppermost layers and the triangle-fold on the inside.  (Big scissors work better than little scissors for this job.)

Now snip that fold open to the cross seam.

After that, you can carefully fold back the top flap and the quilt so that the inner dog-ear is exposed. 

Binding is folded down to the left,
Quilt is folded down to the right

Now, even MORE CAREFULLY, snip off that dog-ear pretty darn close to the cross seam. You don't want to get so close that you snip any stitches, and heaven forbid the actual quilt or outer binding! 

This removed a huge amount of the bulk for the corner, although you will still be able to feel that necessary tiny bit of ridge if you palpate a finished corner. Can't be avoided, but it's waaaay better than the bulk of leaving the dog-ear in.

Now, the last step to getting the flattest corner possible is to fold the second side of the binding down in the opposite order that it was folded on the first side. You want the bulk of each side to lay on either side of the corner instead of both together on one side. When you hand stitch those folds closed, this corner will be FLAT with a nice, clean angle. Super lovely!

~*~ Final tips for a binding that's lump free all-around ~*~
  • Join the strips with a diagonal seam, never a straight up-and-down seam. 
  • Press those seams open, not to one side, and clip off the dog-ears.
  • Before you attach the binding, Run a quick long zig-zag around the perimeter of your quilt that's about 3/16 inches wide.
  • Use the never-ending join-up when you attach the binding so that no-one will ever know where your binding starts and stops, and that point will be lump-free. (Nancy made a great tutorial to do that meet-up: How to Finish Off a Binding.)
  • Always hand-stitch the corner folds closed as your final task. Keeps corners sharp and flattest they can be.
And they don't get wonky in the wash if you stitch them closed.
Here's the freshly cleaned, softly crinkled quilt
ready for its gifting.


So, those are my secrets for how I get bindings and corners that always receive compliments when I have a quilt appraised, whether I hand- or machine-finish them. Now, if you're making a quilt for stiff show competition, there's another level of OCD you want to go to, like using glue, etc., but I'm talking about us normal folks who are finishing normal quilts where we want to pay attention to detail, yet be realistic in our approaches.

And now back to BOMs Away - 
I didn't have any work to share, but do you?


  1. Great tips, some of which I already use. I'll have to try that dog-ear snipping trick, though it does look dangerous! Thanks for sharing. No BOMs here this year, but maybe I'll finish a couple of last year's in the next year, or not - we'll see what each tomorrow brings.

  2. That is the coolest, smoothest binding ever!! I can't wait to try it out! I do all of mine by hand because I don't like the way the machine binding looks, but I think I could make this look nice!

    Thanks for the weekly link up!

  3. I liked the tips as well especially the corners.

  4. Thank you for great tips about the binding. I plan to give it a whirl.

  5. Thanks for this tutorial. I had never thought of snipping off the binding dog ears but I will be snipping away from now on!


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