The final step to completing a quilt, whether you have quilted it yourself or sent it out to be professionally long-arm quilted, is to put on the binding. The challenge with binding is that you need to make it long enough (but not too long) to go around your entire quilt and allow for you to properly pivot the binding in the four corners of the quilt.
Quilt bindings (for the non quilters reading) are traditionally made from folded in half 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric that coordinate with the quilt. The the binding is sewn to the edge of the quilt with a 1/4 inch seam. Then it is time to put on a movie, plop down in your favorite chair with needle and thread and hand sew down the other edge of the binding to the back of the quilt.
If you are a quilter you know of the challenges of sewing enough strips together (but not too many, ha!) for your binding. If you are like me, then you always have extra binding left over! Occasionally (ok frequently) I have shocking lengths of binding leftover. It is like I was planning to go around the quilt TWICE with the binding!
I could never bring myself to just put the leftover binding back in my fabric scrap stash, so I came up with the idea of saving any leftover quilt binding ENDS to use on small quilts, potholders, wall hangings, etc. I have also pieced together binding ends from previous quilts to make a scrappy binding for my current quilt. I love using the ends – “waste not, want not”!
If you are a quilter you are very familiar with the term UFO (Unfinished Objects). Quilters and other crafters are plagued by them, many UFOs carrying over year to year until they fester into a large stash/backlog of projects to finish. I once attended a quilting retreat which focused solely on working on UFOs, but I also brought new projects and worked on them!
Why do we have all these UFOs – why do we start projects, put them down to start something else, or just put them away (like in the back of the closet)? We would not live the other aspects of our lives this way: imagine only brushing a couple teeth once a month and coming back to your mouth say 4 months later when you stumble across your toothbrush under a pile of fabric scraps? (of course then you discover you are out of toothpaste, so you put the toothbrush away for a couple weeks until you have time to find the perfect toothpaste to finish the rest of your mouth…)
A couple weeks ago I talked to a friend who belongs to a quilting guild which has decided to help their guild members focus on knocking out UFOs in 2014. Each guild member had to list 8 outstanding UFOs. Throughout 2014, the guild leadership will randomly pick a number and you have to work on completing the UFO you listed under that number or pay some type of penalty (like a $10 donation to charity) and bring it finished the following month to the guild meeting. I decided to unofficially participate and my friend gave me a copy of the form to list your UFOs. There is no real penalty to me if I do not finish them but I wanted to participate in that kind of “pressure” to clean out my stack of UFOs and squelch the alien invasion in my craft area.
Yes, you read correctly – my “stack” of UFOs. I have them all organized in plastic containers and they include the fabric, the pattern and the progress to date. Stacked, quite high. While trying to decide on which 8 of the 17 or so in the corner (some containers had 2 or more UFOs in them!) to list, I thought: “If something has been a UFO for say 5-10 years, maybe you are not really interested in finishing it. Maybe it is time to let it go”. So I did. I whittled down my extraterrestrial clutter down to just 8 UFOs! Many of the UFOs that were not started I just reintegrated the fabric back into my general fabric stash and returned their pattern to my pattern binder or folder. One UFO that was partially finished I donated to the Humane Society Thrift Shop which has a nice craft section. It was quite a freeing to let them go!
So I thought I was safe. I now had 8 UFOs that I actually wanted to finish and I was ready to find out which number would be selected first by my friend’s quilt. Of all the numbers they could have selected, they chose the number that corresponded to my most tedious UFO of all – a yo-yo quilt UFO made with 409 yo-yos! To be finished in a month! Guess how many of the 409 yo-yos I had done already? Three. So I have been slowly working on yo-yos made from pretty Asian fabrics in the evenings and I am now up to 14….only 395 more to go. I am seriously considering only making a small wallhanging and calling it good. I think the pattern was too ambitious and was for someone with a lot (I mean a lot) of free time on their hands!