Are You a Peeker?

I know that sounds like a really personal question doesn’t it? (I am a proud “peeker” but we’ll get into that in a moment…)

I’m about to ask those of you who quilt/put bindings on projects some really deeply personal questions, are you ready?

Working on sewing on the quilt binding that won the votes (see posts Help Me Pick the Binding for Seattle Scrappy! and And the Winner of the Binding Fabric Poll is…) yesterday got me wondering what other crafters’ practices are related to sewing on a binding.

First a couple questions related to the initial sewing on of the binding to the quilt:

Are You a Peeker?

When you first sew the binding onto to the quilt (before you hand stitch or machine stitch it down), do you peek after your first couple inches or so to see how the binding is going to look finished

I do! I am a proud peeker! As soon as I have enough binding sewn on to the quilt I flip the edge it over to the backside so I can see how it is going to look:


It is just so pleasing to me and like instant gratification to see a preview of how the finishing quilt binding will look!

Do You Measure or Eyeball?

When it comes to turning a corner on a quilt when initially sewing on the binding, do you eyeball the quarter inch (or whatever measurement you use), or do you whip out the ruler and measure?


I am an “eyeballer” and so far it has served me well (but I have screwed up a couple times). Occasionally, as you can see in the image above,  I do also pin it in place before sewing down the next section after turning the corner.

Now a couple questions related to hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt after you’ve initially sewn it on:

How Do You Do Your Corners?

After you finish initially sewing on the binding, do you sew all the corners of the binding first and then sew down the rest along the quilt; or do you just start at one section and work your way around the quilt?


What I do is preview the corners, that they are sitting correctly and sometimes leave some pins or some clips in the corner, and then I randomly select a place to start to sew down the binding and work my way around the quilt.

And the most private and personal question of all (smile):

How Do You Select Thread Color to Sew Down to Back?

I’ve always struggled with this – do you go with trying to match the color of the binding or the color of the backing/back of the quilt?

I went with what was in my sewing machine – a medium-ish gray and I hope it works between the medium-dark binding color and the light gray backing!


I think that is enough probing questions.

Okay, so in the comments below feel free to share your most personal binding related secrets – it’s OK you’re among friends (smile)!


I was also going to ask how do you initially measure how much binding you need to bind a quilt? I eyeball it by holding up my fabrics strips, that will be made into the binding, up to the quilt. But many times I end up with this situation: too much leftover binding…

24 thoughts on “Are You a Peeker?”

  1. I really enjoyed this post and your questions, Tierney. Yes, I am a peeker too. I also use the eyeball method. As a result I have a box full of leftover binding strips. I don’t do mitred corners — have never got the hang of it — and only sew closed the edges of my ‘boxed’ bindings if I am entering the quilt for a competition because the QP always look to see that the tubes are stitched down. I tend to use thread that matches the quilt top when hand stitching the binding down, so that any stitches that inadvertently go through all the layers don’t show on the quilt front. I start stitching in one corner and move around.
    PS: Do you also find that doing the binding is a bit of a bind? (sorry, weak pun)

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  2. I’ve been known to peek upon occasion – However it tends to distract me from the task at hand! HA! And I’m an eyeballer because at this point I’ve done so many miters, I feel comfortable eyeballing – but it wasn’t always that way!
    As for approach to the hand binding: I sort of take a running start from about a few inches from one corner, do the turn, then continue on for as far as my thread will take me. Then, I’ll try to take it from there and incorporate the next corner…In other words, I do a corner section at a time, taking care to not start or end anywhere near the corner…don’t know if that makes sense written out, but there you have it!

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  3. Leftover binding being a fact of life, I have 3 things to do with it: 1) save it “just in case”, 2) use it to frame the label on the quilt, 3) save it for students to use for practice. As for “just in case”, HA! as you would say 😀

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  4. Here’s what my friend Wendy Hill (@wendyquilter) sent me that due to technical issues did not post as a comment:

    Here’s the gist: I measure the quilt sides, cut the fewest strips possible- lalala – then I often cut one more I move the needle over to desired seam width- line up the edge of my presser foot with edge of quilt I use a wider seam allowance I finger press the binding over with a bone tool- then fold it over. I’m moody about sewing the miter folds at the corner. All depends.


  5. I am a blatant peeker, and a shameless eye-baller. I like to start with one corner then work my way all the way around. When I sew down the back, I do choose thread that matches the binding, but I sew it by hand using invisible stitches so it really doesn’t matter. When I miter, I fold the corner down first then turn the left and right edges down. I looooove how this is looking.

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  6. Your hand quilting finishes it so beautifully & adds a lovely texture. Glad you landed on the gray binding. Gorgeous.

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  7. Great questions for us to think about. I am not a very experienced quilter, so a lot of what I do is ‘winging it’! I do peek as I’ve been known to miss going all the way through all the layers and have to fiddle around afterwards filling in gaps. I almost always use a common/neutral thread of an off white. I hadn’t thought of doing the corners first and that sounds a great tip – corners on quilts are a bugbear to me – thanks for the tip!

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    1. I have friends who are the same – they only machine sew the binding down. I’ve done that a couple of times on small pieces and table runners. For some reason I am kind of sloppy with machine sewing the binding down so for most quilts I hand sew the binding. I’ve tried a couple of tutorials to become better at machine sewing down the binding but I am not sure why I cannot master that skill 🙂

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  8. Well I can’t comment as a quilter or a binder – but as a creator in other materials – I’m a bit of a peeker to make sure that the “back side” is looking okay – no threads caught up, no wrinkles of paper, that where I might layer something on the reverse, i.e. book making. I too have oodles of “scraps” – where I the original item doesn’t fit the size of the paper. Or I cut/tear many strips, both fabric and paper, and then I don’t need them all. Or I can’t bare to throw away the leftovers!

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