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 Quilting Techniques : Quilt Finishing Guide

There is more than one way to finish the edges of a quilt. Some prefer using a bias strip, while others prefer fabric binding or quick turn finishing. Which method is best depends upon the type of quilt you are working on, as much as personal preference.

No matter the choice, finishing a quilt serves a role in the function and design of a quilt. One of the first location for signs of wear is along a quilt's edges. Well-constructed finishing can prolong the life of your quilt. A quilt's overall appearance, further, is related to the appearance of it's edges. Consider your finishing technique the icing on the cake, in terms of your design's visual appeal.

Binding Guide

Straight-Cut Binding

Straight-cut binding is used primarily for decorative quilts or those not expected to see a great amount of use. Wall-hangings, table runners or other type of display quilts should use straight-cut binding.

Straight-cut bindings are made by a simple horizontal cut of fabric.

Bias-Cut Binding

Bias-cut binding is the best choice for quilts expecting to see a great deal of use. Examples include baby quilts, bed and lap quilts. Quilts featuring a number of curved edges also do well with bias-cut binding.

As the name implies, bias-cut bindings are formed by cutting fabric on the diagonal. This type of cut yields a stronger fabric strip than a crosswise cut.

Calculating Fabric Requirements for Binding

To make certain you have enough fabric to bind your quilt, use the following equations :

(quilt length + quilt width) x 2 = quilt diameter
(quilt diameter / bias fabric width) x bias seam allowance width = inches of fabric needed

Keep a fudge factor in mind to account for shrinkages and any mishaps and buy just a bit more than calculated with the above equation. If you are using a bias-cut binding, add a generous extra amount onto your total to make sure there are enough pieces of the proper length.

Binding Your Quilt

To keep the layers of your quilt in place and make binding easier, either baste or tie the quilt first. Next, lay your quilt out, with the top facing upward, on a flat surface. Iron the binding strip in half lengthwise. Using a quarter-inch seam allowance, stitch the raw edge of the binding through all layers of your quilt (top, batting and back). Turn the bias over to the quilt's back, covering this raw edge, and blind stitch the folded edge of the bias in place by hand.

Quick Turn Finishing

Quick Turn is a faster alternative than binding for finishing a quilt. It does work best for quilts with flat edges, though experienced quilters certainly can get good results with curved edges as well.

Note : For best results, your quilt backing and border should be of the same fabric. It is possible for some backing fabric to show with this method, but it is less noticeable if the fabric is repeated as a border.

Place the batting, quilt backing (right side up) and quilt face (right side down) on a flat surface. Pin all layers together around the quilt top, but leave a space in the middle of one side of twenty-inches or so unpinned. Additional pins in the quilt's middle helps stabilize the project even more. Starting at one side of the unpinned area, machine stitch through the three layers all the way around to the other side of the unpinned area.

A walking foot is particularly handy for this. Use a quarter-inch seam allowance. Trim all edges even with the quilt top. Remove all pins and turn the quilt right side out through the unstitched area. Large quilts may require a second pair of hands at this stage. Flatten all layers and blindstitch the opening.

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